Wednesday, March 15, 2017

6 Degrees of Separation

On this day, 45 years ago, a teenage White girl gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. I can imagine the mixed emotions this young mother experienced as she lay in that hospital bed. I’m sure she was overwhelmed by the feelings of relief in knowing that her baby was healthy and the joy she experienced entering motherhood, but I can also imagine the great pain and loss she suffered as this baby was taken from her arms and placed into the arms of an adoptive family.  

Thirty miles away, a teenage Black boy was given the news that his college fling with a White girl had resulted in the birth of a baby girl. Her birthday was recorded in a family bible by the boy’s mother, and that would be the only connection the boy had to his baby girl. Attempts to gain custody of his child were thwarted by the girl's racist father. Even though the boy’s family was tightly knit and welcomed a new member, the girl was forced to place the baby for adoption by her parents.

For the next 40 years, the boy often thought about his baby girl. He told his wife and children about her, and periodically allowed them to search for her and her mother as technology advanced and adoption policies changed. All attempts had failed until miraculously, one day there was a knock on the man’s door. Now in his 60’s, sickly and frail, the Black man came face to face with a stranger on his doorstep. The strange man told the sickly Black man that he had married a woman that had placed a baby girl for adoption years ago and that this particular baby girl wanted to meet her birth parents. The sickly man was ecstatic! He could not believe that after all the years of unanswered prayers and failed attempts to locate his daughter that God would literally bring her to his doorstep.

One of the happiest moments of the man’s life was meeting his daughter. “She’s a pretty girl,” he said. “Nice and friendly,” he added. Then he wept, “I’m just glad her mama didn’t abort her. I wanted my child.” The man spoke often with his daughter. They met for lunch and traded stories. Ironically, she had grown up less than 30 miles away from him. She had attended college at the same time and place as his other daughters. They had mutual friends. For over 40 years, there was only 6 degrees of separation between the man and his long lost daughter.

Can you imagine waiting 40 years for something you have deeply longed for? In 2 Kings 4:8-37, the Shunammite woman went through her daily life in deep longing and distress. Many around her did not know because she put up a good front. She was probably well off because she built a guest room on her house for the traveling man of God, Elisha. Friends and family were most likely clueless because even the man of God confessed in verse 27 that “...her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.” But the Shunammite woman persevered through life day by day until she no longer wanted to want the thing she so deeply desired. Have you ever waited so long that you stopped wanting to want? Did the frustration of it all dim the vision? Choke out the memory? Weaken the ambition? When the prophet Elisha wanted to show gratitude to the Shunammite woman for her hospitality, I would imagine it was the years of frustration and disappointment that spoke up for her when she declined the prophet’s offer of the very thing she wanted, a son. However, the prophet blessed her in spite of her words.

The woman had a son. And the child grew. Then the child died. Yes, died. Have you ever lost your dream? Failed at something you worked hard for? Been teased with success only to end up broken again? Can you imagine the Shunammite woman hiding her desire for all those years, being blessed by the prophet, only to then have the dream die? Well my friends, this was a woman whose faith did not waiver. She saddled a donkey, put her game face on and sped off, telling all those she met “It is well.” She found Elisha, grabbed him by the feet and ‘demanded’ her blessing. Elisha obliged and raised the child from the dead. (Go read it y'all, it will bless you) So friends, I encourage you to never quit on your dreams. If the vision has faded, renew your desire. If the blessing seems dead, resurrect it. Have faith in God. You are 6 degrees of separation from your victory.

Though the little sickly Black man had given up on his dream to meet his long lost daughter, God blessed him “in spite of.” Within a year, the sickly man passed away. Having reconciled with his past, he was at peace that all of his children had finally found each other. God did that as a grand finale for my dad.

Happy Birthday to my big sister.