This semester in Bible study, we have been reminded of the picture that every man, woman, and child is created in God’s image. Even if I don’t like the way they are rude, even if they cut me off in traffic, even if they don’t believe in God, even if they don’t give me what I want when I want it, even if they act in ways that I wouldn’t act, even if they have the opposite personality that I do, even if they have different skin color, even if they make more than I do, even if they make less than I do, even if they have a different culture, even if…Just to cement this realization, today in Bible study, we received a handout for our children that talked about knowing people from other cultures and races, and how important it is to introduce God’s “flavor-filled world” to our children. My carton of vanilla ice cream is only one flavor out of hundreds that will be represented in Heaven one day, so I better start making some changes now to get to know all the flavors that God created and loves just as much as He loves my plain old vanilla flavor. As a mother, now I realize that it’s not only my attitude that is important and affects my relationship with others and with God, but that attitude trickles down directly to my daughters and to how they perceive others. Is my attitude teaching respect and love for others, even when we don’t agree or they don’t look like we do? Jesus’ most common dinner guests were sinners and tax collectors, the two most hated groups of people in his day. So, if I’m following Christ and leading my daughters by example, I probably need to work on opening my heart to knowing people who aren’t as vanilla as I am.
Over the years, I have met many people who have impacted me and I’m taking time to think about them and thank them for the impact they have had on my life. These people aren’t just like me, but my life is so much better for having known or met them. I want my girls to know the kindness and humor of my Indian friend, Krishna, with whom I taught for five years and was one of the best fathers I know; I want my girls to know the love and incredible gift of a special student, Kendall, with Down's Syndrome, whom I once had the chance to help teach; I want my girls to know the loyalty of my Jewish friend, Jessica, who drops everything to be at my side and sacrifices her time over and over; I want my girls to know the "realness" of my African-American friend, Sadie, who loves Jesus with her whole heart and even though she doesn’t have much money, possesses more joy, wisdom, and contentment than anyone I know; I want my girls to know my Asian friend, Sandra, who strives for excellence and honors Christ daily with her music talents. Some of these friends know Christ, and some don’t, but I want my girls to have a heart for all people, regardless of race, socioeconomic level, or cultural background.Vanilla? Maybe. Rocky Road? Definitely.