I remember sitting on your lap as a child. Our living room was filled with the scent of curry, spice, and summer. The windows were wide open, and the neighbors knew the sound from our floorboards on a Friday night meant worship was happening. I sat on your lap well past the necessary age because being close to your skin felt safest. On Friday evenings, the world would gather in our home. You invited everyone in. You picked up a blind woman from a street corner once, African refugees, and Chinese students that didn’t know any English. You never hesitated to welcome in a stranger, an outcast, a misfit, a non-English speaking foreigner, a wanderer, a person of light, brown, or Black skin. Everyone was equal. In your eyes, everyone needed Jesus.
I remember sitting in our living room while the drums shook our old farmhouse to the bone. I could feel the beat from the bounce of your leg. I could feel it in my heart. All the accents sang the same words. It made me feel alive. At the bridge of the song, “Welcome to the Family,” the worship leader invited us all to stand up, sing, and greet each other. This was my favorite part. The seventy people crammed into our living room stood and embraced each other. I climbed over couches and folding chairs to extend my arms to strangers who happened to stop by for a meal and worship and to learn who this Jesus person was. Each person needing a home. I was so happy. I couldn’t stop smiling. The drums never stopped pounding until every single person was welcomed.
I remember sitting on your bed for our daily discussions. You would sip your tea. I’d tell you about my day. You would look at me and marvel, “You are so beautiful. Your skin is the perfect color.” I’d jump off your bed and look at my reflection and smile. I was beautiful. Not because I knew what the measure of beauty was, but because you thought I was, so it must be true.
Mom, I remember the way you sat beside me when the day was done. You would stroke my dark hair down my back and sing hymns, songs, and lullabies as I fell asleep.
You’ve always sat beside me. You are white. I am brown. Your skin burns in the sun; mine only darkens. I wonder if the way through the clash of cultures, race, and cancelation comes when we sit beside one another as you’ve sat beside me all these years. I wonder if moving forward starts when we make space for being wrong.
Perhaps the way you’ve modeled love to me can give hope to our hurting world. You loved in a generous, selfless, and jaw-dropping way. You love in extraordinary ways. You gracefully clawed against cultural norms and created a God-culture in our home. Maybe that’s what heals all the pain — extraordinary love. The kind of extraordinary love that sees the difference but doesn’t make the difference hiccup, hesitate, hold up, or hold back. The kind of extraordinary love that laid down His life for a world that whipped Him instead of worshipped Him.
Mom, I know you are lamenting the political climate right now. I know you are hurting for the unborn. I know you are anxious about the future. I know you cringe at the hate crimes against your Asian sisters. I see your pain. My pain doesn’t diminish yours. Your pain doesn’t diminish mine. Listen to mine, and I’ll listen to yours. This is only possible because Christ’s arms are wide enough to receive all our pain. His arms were pinned and pulled wide as a way to take on all our hate, hurt, and hidden pain. His love is large enough to hold all the horrible sadness. By His wounds, we are healed. By our wounds, He heals us.
Lament is a love song. Sometimes the love song can sound like a banging drum, heavy metal hate, or fragile violin strings. But we must lament. There is space for us both to fall apart. There is space for me to sing my own sad song. At the feet of Christ, I can cry out for my children, and my soft wounds still fresh from harsh words spoken. My grief is split open with a gunshot. We grieve into our loss. We grieve into our shattered stories. We grieve into our sad storm. We grieve into Jesus. Our grief is heard. Our grief is safe. Our healing comes when we hear God’s love song over us; Christ sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17).
I’ve pondered deeply how change can happen. I don’t toss out trite ideas, but I am throwing every hope of the possibility of change on the back of Jesus. Hope in our splitting world will require an extraordinary kind of love. The kind of ordinary love that you, my white mom, have shown me. The kind of extraordinary love that forgives the unforgivable, a love that reaches out a hand to those who are different from us, a love that bends into what feels uncomfortable. An extraordinary kind of love that listens to our lament songs, then has the incredible audacity to sing along with us.
Your Asian-American daughter
In the end, this letter isn’t just for my mom. It is for all of us — a letter of hope and a way forward for those who belong to the family of God. There is no way without the extraordinary love and sacrifice of Jesus. There is no way without extending extraordinary love to each other. So even when we sing our lament songs off-key and imperfectly, we keep singing. We heal when we hear God’s love song over us, His beloved children. In His perfect love and grace, He alone can create harmony out of our dissonance.
Dear sister in Christ, what are you grieving today? How do you see God healing you? In what ways can you offer extraordinary, irrational, over-the-top, undeserved love to another today?Leave a Comment
Marian Frizzell says
I love this. Thank you. As a white girl who grew up in Asia, surrounded by beautiful brown faces who loved me and who I loved, deeply, I too am throwing all my hope on Jesus.
Janet Kostrewa says
This is written with such beauty.Thank you
Anna Brown says
This is so beautiful I have tears streaming down my face. I want to be your mum to my children. What an inspiration and what a beautiful way you stand along side each other. Thank you so much for sharing.
Cathy Meidinger says
What a beautiful offering you have given to us all, Anjuli. Your Mom lived out, before you and the world around her, Jesus’ Gospel of love. Oh that we all, no matter the colour of our skin, would ask God to give us the grace and courage to offer that kind of love to our own neighbours, right where we are. Lord, please open my eyes to how I can do that here and now.
Subi Wilks says
Amen and amen. Thank you for this, Anjuli.
connie ker says
I read an editorial written by our Salvation Army leader. He wrote about this current topic of different races, and concluded by saying “we all bleed red blood, and we all started from one man and one woman in the garden”. Jesus may have had brown skin because of where he lived. We have turned him into the race that we wanted him to be, but it never was a topic of the Bible. I remember the song that I sung in Sunday School: Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world”. We all have the same needs of clean water, clean air, healthy food, and a clean environment. Today is Earth Day, so do something today in that regard too.
Paula Gonzalez says
Beautiful words at a time when we all need to be reminded of the perfect love of Jesus. We are one in His eyes.
Cassandra Smith says
A deep, long, beautiful sigh! Thank you, Mom and thank you for sharing your story. This really touched my soul!
Thank you, Anjouli. Your mom is a beautiful model for us all. ❤️
What a beautiful letter to us all. Thank you for reminding us that God created us to be diverse, to see and love all the gorgeous skin tones that He loves.
Bev Rihtarchik says
Your mom truly loved the way Jesus did/does — with grace and truth. Jesus was not a social justice warrior; He was a lover of individuals — no matter the color of their skin, where they were from, or what they’d done. He was about building individual relationships with sinners and inspiring their spirits to seek His Truth and obey it. We could all take a page from your Mom’s playbook which is obviously gleaned from scripture. Beautiful!
Nancy Ruegg says
Well said, Bev!
Today I am grieving the loss of my dad. He passed away a week ago. We are having his funeral this weekend. My mom passed last year during this time and that was sad enough. Now I feel lost, lost as if my history is being wiped out. Praying for healing.
connie ker says
When my mother passed first, I still had my Dad, exactly like you. But when he passed, I felt like an orphan. I remembered I am now the grandmother and the matriarch of my family. Keep that in mind as you grieve, loss is the hardest part of life.
I am so deeply sorry for your losses.
I Maylee, I am praying that God our Heavenly Father will cradle you in His arm and love on you like no other can. Praying Father God will provide you with communities of women, friend and families to stand with you during this time of deep grief. You’re not alone, even when you may fell you are. May His words come alive in your heart and gives you comfort. Ps. 23…He is your comforter Ps 91 He is your refuge and your strength…..Grace and Peace Sis
Beth Williams says
Sweet sister prayers for comfort & peace. Asking God to send His healing touch to your wounded, weary soul. Listen to “On Heaven’s Shore” by David Phelps. Heard it at a funeral & it speaks volumes to me. May you feel His loving arms surround you always.
Sending ((((((((((Hugs)))))))))) from Watauga, TN
Karen Worley says
Soo beautifully said!!
This was so beautiful, thank-you….
Blessings to all,
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Maylee sorry for your loss. You will see both your parents again if saved. One day. You might not have them on Earth anymore. But look at it this way yes you will miss them. But you have good memories of days and times spent together. Know in your heart if they are saved they are with Jesus. You will be together again with Jesus. Said a prayer for you. We all when on earth have to do what Jesus would want us to do is love people of all walks of life. No matter what skin colour they have. I love the fact in today’s reading Aujuli you had Mum that taught you to do that. From a the very day she brought you into the world. You are so blessed. When there are kids out there with parents not saved. Who don’t even take them to Church. Sometimes don’t tell them that often they are beautiful or they love them because they have problems of their own. That sad. So you had Mum that lived for Jesus and showed you in her love for you. She didn’t care what skin colour you had or what you look like. She just loved you like Jesus. That is just so beautiful and lovely. You have that to treasure all the days of your life. Like me I am glad to be saved even though the only one in my family saved. I had mum who always told me I was beautiful with loved in her eyes. Things like this mean alot to us kids and as Adult. My Mum sent me and my sister’s to Sunday School. Even though she was not saved. One song that I remember from my Sunday School years. Now big. Is “Jesus Loves All The Children Of The World Red And Yellow Black and White” How true that is Jesus does no matter what are skin colour Love us all. We are to do the same to everyone. From kids to Adult. I thank my Mum for along with my Dad for sending me to Sunday School. Thought not saved. Still not saved. Even though my Mum not here today. I did pray for her Salvation. I pray today for my Dad’s. Through them sending me to Sunday School. I got to learn that song. “Jesus Loves All The Children Of The World” We the saved are to do the same. Even as Adults. I have always done that. As was Registered Childminder. I used to look are a we boy with light brown skin. His parents and I got on so so well. We are friends today. That is way things in life should be. We should love all people and kids no matter what their skin colour. As mine is white. Love today’s reading. Love you all incourage. Keeping you all in Prayer Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Thank you for writing this! It is beautifully written and such an important message in our hate-filled world today! Your mother sounds like an amazing woman and a great role model.
Miriam MANEEVONE says
Thank you, Anjuli. You are beautiful! You have written a beautiful love letter of hope and pointed all to God’s amazing love which brings healing to our hurting world. May God’s tender love enfold all who need His “Welcome to the Family” embrace!
I’m so glad to be your mom.
I love you. Let’s keep loving all who God brings into our lives. Love- Mom
Sara de Neve says
Awww love these words! So well spoken and yes that song was always the best feeling when we all just hugged everyone! A huge part of my Friday nights growing up. Thank you for speaking words for others to see His amazing love. Love you!
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
So beautifully written and it truly touched my heart. Thank you for sharing part of your heart and faith to enrich/inspire us.Praying we all stay well and safe. God Bless you and all your readers.
Anne Marie says
Thank you for giving this letter a name.
Being called white myself, I have
encountered many racial situations. I was born In Missouri, in the 50’s lived one time in the projects. So many people held a lot of hate & love. I had always decided people were people, not by color but by their hearts.
Awww. That is so awesome! I’m Asian too, but my mom was Japanese and my dad was white. Bless you always!
Thank you so much for sharing your letter and your heartfelt words of love, encouragement and hope. As the mom of an Asian American daughter born in China I was touched beyond words. God bless.
Beth Williams says
Such a poignant letter. I agree wholeheartedly with the words written here. We need to love lavishly like Jesus & your mom did. Don’t judge others based on their skin color, looks, etc. Look deep within & see their hearts. Get to know them on a personal level, if possible. The only way we can heal this cultural divide in our nation & world is by showering God’s love mightily on it. Being an encourager I always thank my co-workers, especially evs(housekeeping) & supply. They have a thankless job & I know what it means for someone to appreciate you. Often times I help our dietary aide hand out food & pick up trays afterward. You will most likely see me out in the hallways cheering patients on when they sit in chair, stand or take a walk. My way of trying to boost their morale & quicken their healing. Plus it makes them smile. Have also helped patients get their belongings down to their vehicles. What ever it takes to make someone’s day I will try to do it & bring some happiness to our hall (hospital).
Nancy Ruegg says
Praise God for your mother and others like her who demonstrate how to be welcoming and gracious to all, just as our Heavenly Father opens his arms to us all. Thank you, Anjuli, for sharing your memories with us, for showing us “a love that bends into what feels uncomfortable.” Lord, help us follow her example!
Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young says
This letter is stunningly-beautiful, my friend. In so many ways, it is the heart-song and letter I could write to my own white mom. Grateful for the ways you speak truth and experiences that resonate.