Posted on

Christians as Rachel Dolezal: Faking it

Does what you put on the outside transform the inside? Christians as Rachel Dolezal - Heaven Not Harvard

Rachel Dolezal’s behavior might seem confusing to us, but have you ever been around a group of people and been deeply jealous of their joy, attitude, experience, togetherness, bond? Something inside you begged to belong?

This week Facebook has again been abuzz with the scandal of Rachel Dolezal, former head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. She lied about not only her background, but about who she is at the core of her being. She isn’t African-American.

Her parents provided teenage pictures proving Rachel isn’t just not black, but she shares my ultra-Caucasianess. How good does a coverup have to be to change your identity? Does changing all the details change you? Many are analyzing her behavior, motivation, techniques, and even hairstyles, but the truth is – she lied and faked her African-American persona for some personal agenda.

Something about the black culture or community was attractive to her, so she learned how to fake it. She dressed and accessorized to blend in with her desired group. Then she tanned her way into passing as black. Rachel also learned everything she could about African-American hair, and was able to turn her straight blond locks into a “natural” kinky afro. (I gotta give her props on that one. I can barely get my similar hair to curl.) Does what you put on the outside transform the inside? Christians as Rachel Dolezal - Heaven Not Harvard

Stepping aside from the race/ethnicity issue, something about this story struck a chord about putting on a persona that isn’t real, which lead me to think about how much I’ve changed in the past few years since we’ve been attending this radical little rag-tag group of Jesus’ followers and how different it is from what church was for me most of my life.

Do you know any Christians playing a part like #RachelDolezal but out of touch with the Spirit? Click To Tweet

I used to attend some larger, more traditional churches in which everyone wore their Sunday best and acted like we had it all together. We talked a lot about God and Jesus and how He saved us, but we didn’t spend a lot of time on ‘from what’ or the ongoingness of the process. And I could doll myself up with the best of them. Raised in a Christian home, I know how to put on the trappings. But I was living LOST the rest of the week.

Do you know any “Christians” playing a part just like Rachel Dolezal?

They put on the appropriate attire, whether Sunday best or “witness wear”, and create this persona based on external factors instead of real change in their hearts. These cultural Christians edit their vocabulary on Sunday mornings, but don’t let God transform their minds.

They are still living too comfortably in the world to have met Jesus personally. Or are living in such sin that the Holy Spirit is entirely quenched.

1 John 2:3-6 ESV  “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

They’ve learned the right things to say, the right Christian vocabulary, but they are missing the big truth of the transformative nature of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of their walk demonstrates that they are living lost. We have to walk like Jesus to demonstrate that we abide in Him.

The fruit of the Spirit demonstrates our faithfulness.

Being around joyful, spirit-filled Christians is tantalizing. When we’re lost, that assurance is so appealing. But unless you know Him, it’s just playing a part.

I spent years being Rachel Dolezal with my perfect church facade, my modest clothes, and my church vocabulary. I could win sword drills like a boss. Yet, the people around me had no idea I was DROWNING. No one seemed to talk about the realness of sin. We needed to talk about the process of cleaning it up, not just covering it up.

Rachel Dolezal spent years living as black. She had it ALL down, but no matter how hard she worked, she couldn’t change herself from the inside out. Neither can we.

That is God’s job.

After years feeling something was off, but thinking I was saved, I finally feel I’m truly being sanctified through the Holy Spirit, but it is sometimes painful to watch other Christians’ actions.

I see their language, posts on social media, and choices that are absolutely not reflective of a spiritual transformation of the heart. And realize I’m not the only Rachel Dolezal who has ever sat in the church pew playing pretend. While there is room for imperfect progress, there is a humility and gentleness to those who KNOW how deeply we need redemption.

We can't use the Bible to judge who is saved, but as a means to deal with our own brokenness. Click To Tweet

We can’t use the bible as a standard to judge someone’s salvation, only God knows the heart. What we can do is use it as a means to heal our brokenness. We find a true depth to our salvation that clearly demonstrates who we are and to Whom we belong.

Because when we take off the mask, we encourage others to do the same.

Nothing has helped me be more real than sitting in a church family who doesn’t hide behind sin, they hold it up and say, “No more! Jesus paid my debts. I’m finished with this.”

If we are doing this church thing right (no matter what we like to wear on our bodies), we’re all wearing our real faces – tempers, language, alcohol, drugs, sexual sins, pride, gossip and turning them over to God one by one. I know no matter which church I visit, I belong to the right body of believers when we are willing to own up to who we really were born as, because only God can redeem us.

And I quit being Rachel Dolezal so that I can encourage people to do the same because our victory is knowing how lost we are without God and choosing to truly belong in His family.

[jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text=”Enter your email address to get more of this encouraging content!”]





Posted on

Dear Birthmom,

Have you ever had a letter you wanted to write, but knew you could never send it? It would be too real, too raw, too vulnerable? What about talk to someone who is out of your life? Sometimes, I have so many things I’d like to say specifically to our daughter’s birthmom due to our unique circumstances. This is not a letter to any birthmom. I will share that letter soon.

Today is National Adoption Day and my spunky lil’ punkin woke up ready for Christmas. She has been a bright light all morning. She told us that to feel the Christmas spirit you have to stretch your arms out wide, take a deep breath, and spin. It is mornings like this that make me feel so blessed to have a chance to mother this tiny tornado, and wish I could talk to her birth mother.Christmas Spirt

Every year as soon as the first signs of spring appear, I start mentally preparing to write her birthday update to our birthmom; I carefully craft the letters and select perfect pictures to tell the story of her year. The first few letters came easily, I was just so grateful for this gift of an amazing child. But this last year I struggled more than usual. I always keep the letters light, warm, and open, but I have things I wish I could say to her.

Dear Birth Mother,

I haven’t heard from you since she was still in the NICU, the day you planned to come back to see her one more time, but never called and never answered a call or email again. How did you walk out of that hospital without her? She has your ears, you know.The first time I saw her yawn, I could see your mouth in hers.

She’ll lay in bed with me in the mornings and tell me her dreams. Her dreams of being a bear trainer and a circus clown, and I’m awed by your sacrifice that built my family. I want to call you or send a picture right that minute, hoping to catch the way joy sparkles in her with my clumsy iPhone camera. But just like my phone’s lousy ability to capture the truth of her beauty, a picture wouldn’t capture her spirit either. Although this video is one of my favorites.

Sometimes, I’m really angry with you. You put cocaine into her tiny body, and I couldn’t stop you. While they scanned for brain damage, I held her tiny head, frantic for her. Despite being premature and some early breathing difficulties, she seems alright, but tiny signs make me wonder. We can’t know the future battles she may face due to the alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs.

I also don’t understand not wanting to know her. I have emailed a few times, willing to keep communication open. Not one reply. There are moments that I feel like a mother is the one person who can celebrate all the tiny, insignificant, earth-shattering, wonderful things she does. Then, I wonder if you would understand, if you have that mothering instinct at all?

Or if that instinct is what encouraged you to give her away? Because you did bring her into the world. You gave her life. Not every woman would make that choice.

Maybe you’ve never answered an email because a single word to me would open a floodgate of regret. Maybe you have a hole in your heart, shaped just her size. I don’t want to remind you what you’ve lost. That’s why I stopped emailing so long ago.

Every time she calls me “Mommy” my heart wants to burst. The other day we were talking about her adoption and if babies remembering being born. I asked if she remembered her “real” mom. I don’t know why that word came out of my mouth, because I always use “birth” mom to describe you. Maybe it still doesn’t seem possible that she is mine. But, you know what, she looked right at me and said, “You’re my real mom.” And I am. I’ve been branded in snot, puke, poop, and hugs. I’ve played dress up and tea party, and had to discipline her when watching her chubby cheeks stained with tears was breaking my heart. I’m as real as it gets, but you’re still a part of her, too.

I try not to worry about how she’ll feel in the future. I don’t know if she’ll be more than curious, but I do know she will always have a hole in her heart for the people who gave her away. I pray I’m doing my job so well, it will be only a tiny thimble space of emptiness that won’t ever bother her. But I wonder if she’ll ever come looking for you. Will she turn toward your family, aching to know why you gave her away. Part of me doesn’t want her to need you, but I want to be OK with her loving you, too. Our hearts aren’t limited in how many people we can love.

I tell her that God always meant her for our family, that she grew in my heart as part of His plan for her. Yet, during those teen years, will she ever yell, “You’re not my real mom!” at me? I pray that she doesn’t ever feel like that, or even if she does, we’ll both know she didn’t really mean it.

Dear BirthmomToday is just another Saturday, even though we know it’s National Adoption Day. And I’m celebrating her and our family. Daddy made traditional Belgian waffles, so delicious they didn’t even need syrup. We’re gonna stay in our jammies until lunch time.

We’re having a pillow fight. We’ve never had one before. I handed her the pillow and walloped her. Her eyes got wide with surprise, she was allowed to hit me? Then the laughter started to bubble up bursting into huge giggles, dissolving into giant guffaws as we bashed and bonked, great reckless pillow fun.

And you’re missing it. You’ll never know how her tiny, baby chuckles could fill a whole room with laughter. You’ll never see her jaw drop in amazement when she learns something new.

When I write to you each year, I worry over ever word, wanting you to be happy you chose us to raise her, wanting you to agree that I’ve been the best mom I could be for her, but I worry you’ll judge her height and weight and wonder if I’ve been feeding her too much junk food. I worry that you’ll hate her haircut or the mural I painstakingly painted on her bedroom wall. I wonder if you’d approve of the deep faith she is developing. Then I think, you gave her up because you couldn’t take care of you, should your opinion matter to me? Two seconds later, I hope you’re doing alright and are making better choices.

And I have times, I wonder if letting her go left a huge hole in your heart, if there is anything I could say that would make it hurt less, feel better. You did the right thing. She has a stable home, a family that adores her, and close friends who practically live at our house.

She will ask lots of questions in the future, I’m sure. I know my feelings will change too. So for right now, this minute, I’m grateful but wonder if you know what you’re missing.