From the desk of Lauren Palmer
“How is it that I teach women to live beautifully (a term I often describe as colorful and cultural) yet every person in my life is white?” This was the question I asked myself in the summer of 2017 when I felt a conviction: Lauren, I want you to have a more diverse group of friends. This was the statement my spirit heard from God that summer, and I began questioning why my entire world consisted of only one race of people—especially when my impression of heaven is anything but singular. I personally believe heaven is filled with humans of every race; our beautiful, unique colors interwoven in harmony.
This directive from God also forced some self-introspection and I began to examine the reasons why I had not included more women of color among my friendships:
- The majority of my surrounding neighbors are white
- The majority of the moms at my boys’ school are white
- I work alone in my home which restricts who and how many people I interact with on a daily basis
Although each statement is factual, I found none to be a valid reason to continue limiting the races that make up my friendships, thus forgoing any form of heaven on earth and lacking the benefits that come from crossing racial friendship boundaries. I realized that although it truly had nothing to do with hate, my beliefs took on a form of racism based completely on ignorance: I didn’t have a racially diverse group of friends because it had never occurred to me that this was important. The environment I lived in had never offered reasons why I should. I was living in a bubble. I had precious, loving, white friends that were conveniently put in front of me, and I never questioned the singularity in their race or sought anything different. When we stay away from those different from ourselves, we limit our opportunity to love and support other humans. This widens the chasm. Did you hear that? By not recognizing the need for inclusivity in our friendships and embracing the richness that diversity offers, we widen the chasm, and fill it with all the unasked questions, misunderstandings, fear, and the like. Sad, isn’t it?
After acknowledging this directive from God, I began praying that the Lord would align me with some strong women of color to befriend. I am happy to report my prayer was answered a mere 2 months later when I was introduced to Tricia Scruggs, a beautiful African American foodie, journalist, mother, McKinney-resident, and follower of Christ. We chatted about our respective businesses, the kids, the hubbies, and I remember silently thanking God for this meeting while listening to her speak. I instantly loved her gentle, kind demeanor, and it dawned on me that Tricia was an answer to my prayers.
In response to my thanksgiving, the Lord further demonstrated the significance of this relationship and others like it when Tricia mentioned needing some help with branding for her business. I immediately thought of a past acquaintance who works in that arena—Andrea Patrick, an equally beautiful, equally intelligent African American woman I had met years ago when working as a makeup artist at Sharla’s. The Lord provided a path for the three of us to (re)connect, and now, almost three years later, these women are two of my most important friends. Through our lunches, texts, phone calls, and meetings, I came to know these women on a deeper level.
That meeting at the Starbucks in Adriatica forever changed me. My inclusion of another race in my world opened my eyes to see women of color all around me: at the gym, at the coffee shop, out shopping, at the library. A single conversation opened my eyes to see how significant it is to have friends of different races; because I know, and respect Andrea and Tricia, I now better understand the African American point of view, their plights, and their vision. And I’m still learning! This is what will heal the races, friends: taking time to know and understand those different than us. This brings forgiveness.
What if I hadn’t listened to God? What if I hadn’t faced a hard truth about myself? What if I hadn’t prayed for racially diverse friendships? What if I hadn’t allowed my eyes to be opened? I’ll tell you what: I wouldn’t have the great honor of calling Tricia and Andrea friends. I would never know the blessing of visiting with them, of picking their brains over business stuff, of hearing their encouragement, of receiving their prayers. I would never have had the opportunity to love them, or the blessing of acknowledging they are my Sisters in Christ.
Friends, if you have been blind to the different races around you, I hope this testimony inspires you to open your eyes and take in the beauty. There are wonderful women of ALL races ALL around you. Don’t allow ignorance to rob you of the potential for blessed friendships. Heaven is colorful. Heaven sings GLORY around every unique person and race made on this earth. You might think “we won’t have anything in common.” I get that. But don’t discount a potential friend because you might not have things in common. We are all members of one human race.
If we go through life only ever understanding our own circumstance, we limit our realm of impact and live only to benefit ourselves and those exactly like us. Don’t limit your impact. Don’t live in ignorance. Open your mind and heart and be ready to receive the beautiful friends God has in store for you. It is heaven on earth.
A note from the author: Friends, I feel a bit terrified to publish this article not only because racial disunity is such a sensitive topic, but also because I feel ashamed of how blind I was for so long by only pursuing friendships with white women. In spite of my fear, I believe there are probably others in the same circumstance I was in, and my prayer is that this will inspire them to cross racial friendship boundaries, as I did, and initiate healing. To those of you who read this article and provided insight and encouragement, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for your love. –LP
LISTEN TO MY INTERVIEW ABOUT THIS ARTICLE ON THE P.B. & STYLE PODCAST:
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