The God Who Sees: Guest Post by Jessica Delgado
I grew up in a white church. Every Sunday, my family would pile into the car dressed in our Sunday best and drive to the nearest mega-church in our San Diego suburb. We were consumers, really. We attended church every Sunday but never stuck around to get involved, to serve, to go deeper with our neighbors in small group discussions or Bible studies. When the church we were attending stopped serving us, we’d venture on and find another. Yet in all our wandering, we never seemed to find a church that represented us: a Mexican-American family. I don’t remember ever seeing any kids that looked like me. There were no teachers, no preachers, no worship leaders, nor greeters who had skin as brown as ours. Whiteness surrounded us and we were eager to join the crowd.
I spent most of my time in white circles. My friends were white, my teachers were white, the celebrities we wanted to be like were white. I was comfortable with white people, I saw myself in white people, being white was what was normal to me. Yet for all their normalcy to me, I was not normal to them. They wondered if my dad was a drug dealer, if my family was undocumented, if my cousins were in gangs. They wondered, and they questioned, and they joked because there was no way a Mexican family could make it to the suburbs and be better off than some of them unless we had done so by breaking the law. When I ran to the church for solace, I was turned away. “It’s not about race,” they would say, because it had never been about their race.
I learned to hate the parts of me that made me different from all my friends. I learned to hate my tan skin because it was too brown, I learned to hate my resourcefulness because it was so ghetto, I learned to hate my ability to roll my r’s because it was so Mexican. I tried to hide the parts of me that were inescapable, the parts I couldn’t do anything about. I hid and I hid and I hid. After a while, I was practically unseen but for the parts of me that looked like everybody else. I longed to be known, to be chosen, to be loved wholly and fully for everything I was – even the parts I didn’t like. I had been living invisible like this well into my twenties – still going to church, still wishing I was white – but God had his sights set on me and He grabbed hold of me with unrelenting love.
God started teaching me about my culture, my heritage, about marginality and the plight of every immigrant’s child: to be too ethnic for the majority, but not ethnic enough for our own people. He led me to research, and findings, and then He quieted my heart long enough to let me listen to the margins.
The first time I heard the Scriptures interpreted by a minority point of view, my mind was blown. It seemed that the God of Israel was less of a cheerleader for me and my future – as I’d often gathered from my white church experience – and more of a Protector, a Provider; Defender of the powerless and Righteous Judge of the oppressor. This God that they preached in the margins was unlike any feel-good, Jesus-is-my-homeboy kind of God that I’ve ever heard of. This God was mighty, this God was holy, this God was King. Worthy of every breath, every song, and all our devotion, the God of the margins was also the God who sees. He saw us, hiding in our brown skin with our truest selves tucked in some faraway corner of our deepest closets. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He is calling us out of hiding and into freedom.
See, there’s no reason to hide, because He already knows. There’s no reason to fear, because He already loves. The God of Israel, our Father who art in Heaven, He sees us, He knows us, He loves us. He is not colorblind and He is not indifferent to our suffering. Our God cares, cares enough to measure the hairs on our head, the blood in our veins, the drops of melanin poured over us. If you hear nothing else, hear this: the Almighty God of the Universe sees you, He is listening for you, and He will exercise justice on your behalf. He is a good Father. So to all you shadow-dwellers, come dance with me in His marvelous light.
Jess is the creator of the blog, Life as Nobody’s Wife. She was born and raised in San Diego, studies Theology at Point Loma Nazarene University, and is totally, crazy, utterly in love with Jesus Christ.
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