Larissa Kwong Abazia (@LarissaLKA on Twitter) returns as our featured artist. She is a 2.5 generation Chinese American pastor whose work centers around building relationships within and around church communities. She is anxiously awaiting and striving toward God’s beloved community. On the hardest days, building a future in which her son and those who experience the world like him can thrive, keeps her going.
I held my pen as if it bore the weight of the world when I read “Ethnicity/Race Information” on the enrollment form: Primary (check only one box) and Secondary (circle ALL that apply).
I anxiously thought of my five year old son’s future. It felt as though one pen stroke would define every single step.
Check only one box.
And as I dropped him off for his first day of kindergarten, I thought of this milestone now wrapped around my neck. Would he be safe? Would the school’s security be preventative enough? Would he ever have to hide under a table as his teacher dashed to lock the classroom door? Would I ever wait by my cell phone with worry for the call that no parent wants to receive?
How can I explain to him that kids from Aleppo were executed as they fled for their lives? How will I help him understand that he has friends whose parents will have “the talk” with them (if they haven’t already)? How can he grasp that, post-election, there are people who are afraid to stay in their own homes? How will I even begin to tell him about the church whose dumpster says, “Go home chink” and pastors all across the country who are trying to equip their members to face harassment?
We brought our son into this world; this box of division and otherness that he will have to navigate. A box of fear and anxiety where people of color have to defend the value of their lives. A place where box-checking is required for enrollment and participation in community. Ours is a land where you have to know who you are and where you fit to survive.
“But when the fulfillment of the time came, God sent his Son, born through a woman, and born under the Law.” Galatians 4:4 (CEB)
I wonder if God ever regretted sending Jesus into this world…
Could it have been when Mary’s faithful yes was almost followed by the quiet desertion of the man who said that he loved her?
Was it as Mary’s contractions strengthened and Joseph filled with fear while countless people turned them away?
Or when Mary delivered the holy child surrounded by the stench of animals and a fiancé who had no idea what childbirth required?
Did God have to turn away while Jesus tried to love humanity time and time again only to be rejected by his own community? Was the pain sometimes so much that the Holy One had to become numb to swallow responsibility for this mission?
Were God’s hands thrown up in the air with a shaking head as religious leaders remained concerned with structures, laws and standards? Was there wailing when those religious leaders joined with the empire to kill the Son of Man?
Did God feel defeat at the execution of Christ’s battered and broken body?
Thousands of years later, does God feel regret that the effort toward redemption led us right here, to this place?
I want to believe that I can raise a child in this world as though it is a defiant act of hope. I want to trust that we can make this better, that we want to make this better. But I am not so sure anymore. I hear his laughter and it makes my heart leap before completely crashing down to shatter in a thousand pieces. I pick them up and put them together as best I can before I’m ripped apart again.