Tag Archives: culture

A Letter to Ask Your Forgiveness

Dear Native American/ First Nations Friends, and to those who do not want to call me friend,

I am writing this because I felt that God was saying this was necessary.  There are more wounds than what I will say, but these are the wounds I will address on behalf of Christians in America.

Please forgive my nation.  Forgive us for believing that our culture was superior to your own.  Forgive the Christians in this nation for forcing our culture on you and saying it was God’s way.  For not being wise enough to discern what was our culture from what was God’s way even though we had been shown grace when our peoples first became Christians—this was when the followers of Jesus had the grace to say that the new the European followers of Jesus did not have to obey all of the cultural practices of the Jewish people to worship God—that they should only have to give up and change a few things that related back to their past religions and take on a heavenly culture.  We did not say that to you.

Did we tell you there was a better culture than our own that we should all have to change to follow?  Our Great Heavenly Father’s culture and his ways?  That those ways are love?  Did we forget to say that and show that?  I am so sorry.  Did we fail to understand God’s words in Revelation where all tribes and nations were gathered before God to honor and praise him?  Do all “tribes and nations” mean that we all looked the same and sang him the same songs?  Did we fail to say you can sing your songs to Him your own way?  With your own instruments?  In your own language? In your own clothes or regalia?  I am so very sorry because I believe we have broken our own God’s heart by crushing you with our own vanity—you, a beautiful people whom he made to honor him with their own song, not ours.  Please forgive us.

We have been very unkind brothers and sisters at times.  Please know that our Father God is far, far more loving than his children have represented him to be.  Some of my nation still does not see what we need forgiveness for.  Can you forgive that too?  Can you find it in your heart to love us with a love and forgiveness as great as our God’s?

 

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Where the Birds Gather

Living on the reservation had been a very difficult thing for me.  Not only did my cultural behaviors clash with the culture I found myself in, but so did my personality of vivacity, playfulness and love of deep truthful talks with friends.

I worked where the “evils” of whites where constantly preached about and were talked down about, breaking down the already fragile bonds of friendship between those friends of different races.  (Not to say that we haven’t been people who have brought great atrocities on others—but there is a point where forgiveness is necessary and the love between peoples needs to be restored). After I began to notice my racist mindset toward my own people after being constantly indoctrinated with the negative talk—likely from the desire to remove myself from the hurtful words through disassociation from my culture—I realized I needed to get a healthier perspective again.  I left the reservation for the sake of sanity.

You may not have ever had to deal with not being accepted, but it is likely that most of you have to one degree or another.  And some of you have felt rejection for who you are all of your lives.  Some of you are just going through a season of feeling rejected.  Mine had been an intensely devastating season.

I was left wondering if it was wrong that I valued what I did, that I was how I was, if my culture was so wrong, and what was the right way to do things.  About half a year after returning home, my friends swept me away to a silent retreat where we were encourage to listen and talk with Jesus in an old abbey surrounded by a beautiful nature area.  Many people stayed around the abbey, but adventurer that I am, I went cross-country and looked for a little hide-away in the field or trees.  I found a delightful pond to spend time near, and was absolutely fascinated by what I saw there.

Birds of all types and sizes were gathered in and near the little cattail-lined pond.  Redwing blackbirds sat on the cattails and would then fly off.  A hawk soared overhead, gracefully above all of the feathery activity below.  One kind of bird would playfully soar close to the water with others of its type, seagulls flew in unordered groups not so gracefully as the other birds, and ducks and geese swam around the water or would walk up on the shore.

I saw how so very different each type of bird behaved.  Some were very regal, some were very fun, and yet they all gathered by the water harmoniously.  They could act different, and it was alright—that was how God had made them to be!

Suddenly I realized that people groups all have different styles and ways of acting, and none was the right way.  If God made birds to act so very differently from each other, then people, too, were valuable as different and unique cultures with their different values and perspectives.  In a way, valuing other groups was not an awakening to me—but being alright with my own group was a great awakening to my heart.  I related to the playful birds who would flutter and skim over the water.  There was nothing wrong with a playful spirit.  The Holy Spirit would gather all types of peoples together and all would benefit by the same pool of water.

Ezekiel’s vision of the kingdom of God:

“Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.  There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.  Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets.  The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea.”  Ezekiel 47:9-12

Every Tribe, people and tongue will be gathered at the throne of God in heaven (Revelation).  God values diversity—his love will bring all cultures and people together in Him.  And best of all, even if people don’t value me, it doesn’t mean that I am wrong by being who I am, it only means they do not understand the ways of a different type of bird—at least not yet.

Lord!  Let us love each other beyond behaviors, values, and appearance.  Let Your Holy Spirit bring peace between your people, and peace to ourselves. Help us know that our personalities are loved and valued by you no matter if anyone else values us.  But I also pray you bring us to a place where were are valued by others too.  Amen!?

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