“I was regretting the past and fearing the future. Suddenly my Lord was speaking: ‘My name is I AM.’ He paused. I waited. He continued. ‘When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there. My name is I WAS. When you live in the future with its problems and fears, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not I WILL BE. When you live in this moment, it is not hard. I am here. My name is I AM.'”
~ Helen Mallicoat
When we talk about race, more often than not, we are talking about what “they” did to us or what “they” will do to us. We are always the victim– past, present and future. And we tell our children that they will be future victims: “They will hate you and they will hurt you.” The experience of victimization takes all of our time. Consequently, there is nothing left to be present for. And time is always against us, offering nothing new, only useful as a container for what has been.
When we see ourselves as racial beings, that is socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige, the vision of the victim is always the past. It is proof that we exist and validates our existence. It is where the identity is strengthened. “See, I have a right to be angry, to be unforgiving, to be bitter. Look, what they did to me.”
Race has nothing new to say about us or the other. And it does not create new people or relationships but stereotypes of what has been. It offers no new way of seeing things but says you and I cannot change. This is the only way to see “us” and “them”
But, when we define ourselves by race and experience our lives as victims of other socially constructed racial groups, we trap ourselves in time. We name ourselves based on the experience and we take on the experience as an identity. I am victim; hear me retell the story again and again. Over time, we become the experience and what has happened to us becomes who we are.
But, we are not always the victim; we are not everywhere and at all times being victimized– unless of course, we ascribe to race and assume its racial identity. Race tells us that our bodies are the crime. Its appearance has done something wrong; it makes persons afraid or uncomfortable or embarrassed. It even looks guilty.
But, as new creatures in Christ, we have a new time, a present that is a gift from God. As new creatures in Christ, we are no longer victims but victors, even more than conquerors because of him (Romans 8.37). As new creatures in Christ, we are healed, no longer victims of time or circumstance or birth or sin. As new creatures in Christ, we have a new enemy and no longer fight with human beings (Ephesians 6.12). As new creatures in Christ, we were victims but this will not be true again. Time’s up!
“…Forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” ~ Colossians 3.13, NRSV