“Then He said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth…” Genesis 3:16
October 17, 1998 I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy! So many emotions enveloped me during this time. I was happy he was finally here; nervous about changing his first diaper; concerned if I was going to be a good mother; excited for everyone to see him; curious about what his personality would be like; and scared to take him home, to say the least. However, in that very moment I became a mother and there was no time to waste. I now held a treasure from above, which I would be responsible for and who would depend on ME to survive. Panic set in but I was and am, determined NOT to fail him. The road hasn’t been easy but I thank God for His grace and mercy every day.
As a single mother raising a son and more significantly a black male; there are so many challenges to face for both parent and child. Especially since these challenges would be otherwise mundane experiences for others. In the early years of raising my son the normal protective motherly instincts were always active. However, when he entered school, my protective nature began to transcend to age appropriate discussions about how he should conduct himself in various environments. These conversations quickly grew beyond respect those in authority; keep your hands to yourself; follow instructions; don’t talk to strangers; and the list goes on and on.
As time passed our conversations became much more specific, along the lines of survival tips for young black boys, in a world that largely perceives them to be a threat or target most of the time. Some would argue ALL OF THE TIME. According to naacp.org, 1 in 3 black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime. This is NOT acceptable!!!!
It angers me that we must have serious conversations about such mundane things. Here are just a few examples: when walking home from school don’t go in any stores with your friends; don’t ever run while walking home; be selective about the colors you wear; avoid wearing your hoodie walking home from school; and be sure that your hands are visible if stopped by the police. We should not have to have these types of conversations. Unfortunately, in light of the recent murders of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and the countless other young black males whose lives have been cut short, these conversations MUST continue. The grief and the pain these mothers and fathers have had to face are unimaginable. It made me think about something a preacher said not to long ago…
“Children are ‘the blessings’ that hurt even beyond the birth pains.”
That is surely something to think about.
Recently, reality hit home; after a winter storm I asked my son to go out and begin to clean the car off and I would be out shortly to help. As he was preparing to leave he asked me where my car key was and proceeded to take the car key with him. I stopped him and scolded him, asking him why he needed the key to clean the snow off the car. He remained silent as I ranted about him taking the key but as he was handing me the key back he said softly, “Mom, I feel more comfortable taking the key. Just in case someone thinks I’m trying to steal the car, I can show them I have a key.” I was shocked by his response. I immediately handed him back the key and said “I’m sorry, no problem”…. “I love you.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. But I had mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was sad that this thought was on his mind…surely every young boy that goes to clean off the car after a winter storm doesn’t think like this….Right? While on the other hand I was thankful that he was THINKING. He was processing a possible outcome before engaging in the activity. I really couldn’t grasp what was truly going on his mind. I am a WOMAN….I have no clue what it’s like to be a man nor could I ever teach him how to be a man. I can only provide him the tools for Iife from my perspective and most importantly from a biblical perspective.
My mind has been racing ever since. It made me think about Sabrina Fulton (Trayvon’s mom) and Lucia McBath (Jordan’s mom) and the many other mothers and fathers who have lost their children to senseless acts of violence. What did they share with their sons? Did they too have similar conversations on survival tips for young black males? What would they have done or said differently to their sons? Did these young boys ever experience the freedom of just being a kid and doing things that most kids do? Can our boys fall short like most people do in life without the worry of losing their lives? Then I thought about Oscar Grant’s mother who encouraged him to take the train instead of driving, believing that the train would keep him out of trouble and out of harm’s way. Sadly it didn’t. There is no guarantee that our parental advice or survival conversations will keep our young black boys safe. What else do our young black boys have to face and deal with every day? What are their dreams? What do they hope for? Have we failed them? What can we do? What can I do? ……. PRAY
The real lesson in all of this for me is to seek Christ in everything. The Word of God calls us to “Not worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.” (adapted from Philippians 4:6) I am determined to come against this mountain of fear and concern for my son and the many other young black males, through PRAYER and studying God’s Word. I will also continue to teach my son to pray and seek God for himself. It is in the presence of God that we can find PEACE that surpasses all understanding. Just the thought of all that my son and many other young black males have to face daily is mind blowing. So this is my prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come to you with my greatest care, my son. I know that You can raise him and keep him safe far better than I can. I will no longer seek to care for him by myself. I release him into Your hands. For I know that all I have belongs to You. You are the best caregiver that he could ever have. I enter into full partnership with you in raising him. For You know all of the things that he will have to face in this life. And because you know these things, I believe that You have already provided the resources and protection in advance for his victory. I thank You for going before him and making his crocked places straight. I thank You for bringing him in the presence of people of faith. I thank you that Your favor surrounds him like a shield. I thank You that the dreams and desires of his heart will be in line with Your will for his life. I thank You that You will cover him from all danger seen and unseen. I thank you Father for hearing my cry. So as it is written, I will say to my son, “…Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins, Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.” (Ephesians 5:14-17)….This is my prayer in Jesus Mighty Name….AMEN!!!
“IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL”