the best valentines gift ever

quick note: the words below don't really do the feelings I have justice. I am in tears just knowing the sanctification process that God takes his people through. I have traveled the world and seen miraculous things... but this was one of the most beautiful displays of the gospel I have seen and experienced.

My dad is southern. He is one of 14 children who grew up in a small town, where everyone knows everyone; reputation is everything and there is nothing left unsaid. He knows a lot about hard work, respect, and simplicity. My dad was raised in the church, in east Texas it’s uncommon for people to not go to church on Sundays. My dad is imperfect but I have never had more love for any person. He always tried to love my sisters and I well, and he is one of my very favorite people.

Two years ago I told my dad I liked this guy, who loved God and wanted to pursue me… this guy happened to be “black.” My dad responded the way any southern father would. He was concerned for my reputation, what people would think of me and my family. He was a protective father, and he wanted to keep me from anything that would be hard.

He was right… time showed that for me it was hard. I had elderly women talk to me in bathrooms; I have had countless rolled eyes and stares as I walked through towns holding the hand of this godly man that was created with a different skin tone. I actually ended the relationship out of fear.

In the south it’s uncommon to see white people married to black people. Is it wrong, unbiblical, unclean, or are we of different species… NOT AT ALL! But in the deep woods of east Texas there are some folks, well meaning… but they still have remnants of this belief. It’s heart breaking, but nonetheless true.

2 years later I found myself driving to the house of my father holding the hand of that same man. My dad had never met him. I was full of peace and I was sure that this was what God had for me. My heart raced because it was filled to the brim with love for my father as well as love for the man God brought into my life. As we drove past the run down fence and reached the tree line I saw my dad wave as we parked.

We walked hand in hand towards the man who at this point seemed to hold my happiness and there was a hand shake and hug. Not a glimpse of hatred or racism. My dad looked at him like he looked at any man that would pursue his daughters; with interest and good intent. They talked about everything from types of trees to nerves before they met. I was simply soaking it all in. Before we left my dad hugged this man and gave his whole hearted approval.

As we drove home it all seemed like a dream because it was covered in grace and beauty. I saw what the gospel had done in just two years. My dad is so strong, smart, and God fearing. Without the work of Christ he would have never shaken the hand much less hugged a black man that was dating his daughter. He would have never given approval and invested time, my dad in that moment showed me the finished work of Christ. He showed me the deepest of a fathers love. A father trusts that Gods plan is beyond what he imagines or had planned for his kids. A father seeks to understand the values, heart, and plan of the man that would be with his daughter… looks of any kind fade away. I was in tears thinking about what the power of God can do in a few years, I was amazed to think that God cared so intensely about his people.

Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to look beyond preference and what we know to be normal to get to know others and value people. Here it may be race, in other areas of the world there is hatred that’s gender specific, or hatred because of religious beliefs. Some of these things we would be outraged to hear about; babies in Asia being killed because they are born female, Christians being killed in the middle east because of their beliefs. It breaks our heart and we have our rants prepared if the opportunity arises. My question would be; what are some areas that you have found hatred in your heart. Maybe you are in my family and reading this because you are so confused by my relationship… What if your daughter wanted to be with a godly man who was selfless and full of integrity but he happened to be black… how would you respond?

My prayer is that hatred would meet an immense love, that this love would change the hearts of man and that the gospel would reveal in the slightest of wrong thinking. Just as my dad responded in love and embraced those whom we never imagined to be a part of our family… that they would be welcomed and shown genuine kindness.