Coming Full Circle in Faith (With a Little Vomit)

Readers,

The other day, before violently vomiting, going to the hospital, and learning that I have the stomach flu, my father gave me a call. If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while, you know that things with my father have never been easy. I grew up in an emotionally and verbally abusive home. I became a woman who yearned to be loved by men and yet feared men while simultaneously disregarding men’s importance or personhood. It’s an odd dynamic: fearing men while hating them and mocking them. This is something I’m still working through.

My father called me just after I vomited for the first time on the street here in NYC, terribly dramatic I know, and he rang to see how I was. During our conversation, about twenty minutes in, I began vomiting again and he heard it all, bless his soul. On the other end I heard, “Gabby, relax. Gabby, breathe. Gabby, can you hear me?” After each hurl, I gasped for air and feared that I wouldn’t find any. Once that panic sets into your body, it’s hard to get out of it. 

I wiped my mouth, sat back, and listened to my Dad. A few minutes later, I felt much better and I explained to my dad that I think all of these sicknesses are a result of an evil, demonic attack. Considering how no doctor can understand why this is happening to my body, why I’m experiencing all of these erratic symptoms, and taking into account the time that it started, it seems clear to me that this is an evil attack against my body, to prevent me from my calling. Of course to my Dad, a new believer, this was shocking and confusing.

I explained some parts of the book of Job to him, in what I call the GIV (Gabby International Version). Essentially I said, “So God was like, ‘Wow, Satan, look at my servant Job. Isn’t he awesome? Doesn’t he love Me so well?’ And Satan was like, ‘Yeah right, God. He only loves You because You gave him all this stuff. Take that away and he’ll curse You to Your face.’ Then God was like, ‘Okay, take his stuff but you can’t touch him physically.’ So then Satan was like, ‘Okay’ and took everything material from Job in one day. Then Job still loved and honored God so Satan was like, ‘Aight lemme mess with his body. Then he’ll curse You!’ God was like, ‘Okay, but you can’t kill him.’ Then Satan messed with his health. So clearly, dad, this is what’s going on with me. Job wasn’t a one-time thing. Things like this do happen!”

I know, I’m quite the story-teller.

Then I asked my Dad if we could pray together and he asked me the one question I wanted to hear all of my life: “Gabby, how do you pray with another person?” 

What honor. What responsibility. Me, a twenty-four year old woman was to teach my almost sixty-year old father what it meant to pray with another person. I chose my words carefully, making sure to avoid all Christianese.

“Well, Dad, you’re basically just talking to God with another person. And remember when I was a kid and we would pray at the table and Mom would say, ‘Yes, Lord.’ ‘Mhmm.’ Well, she was just agreeing with us in prayer. Jesus tells us that where two or more are gathered in His name, He will be there. So of course Jesus is with us all the time and we don’t need another human to talk to Jesus. But, when we gather with another in any aspect of life, we’re stronger, right? That’s all it is.”

We sat and prayed together for about ten minutes. That was the first time he had ever really prayed with someone. Wow, God. After praying for my Dad’s salvation for years, almost a decade, he finally came to faith in You. He is beginning to know You. I can’t believe You’re letting me help my dad in his faith journey. I can’t believe You want me to do this!

Readers, never give up hope on your family members and friends. God works on His own timing. Jesus will save. He still seeks and saves the lost.

Blessings,

Gabrielle G.

 

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Dear America: My Father is White (And That’s Okay)

This weekend has been jam packed with hospital visits and emergency surgeries, but I finally have a few moments to sit and breathe.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m “biracial.” My mother is Afro-Puerto Rican and my father is German-American. In other words, my mother is brown and my dad is white. Their union created me, ethnically ambiguous me, and I enjoy looking so distinct. Although my mixed heritage has been difficult to embrace at times, mostly because of others’ reactions to me, I love who God made me to be. I’m blessed to not be stuck in one culture and one mindset. Because I’m mixed, I can easily move between many cultures and believe that this will help me win souls for Christ. 

While being different is fabulous, there are aspects of the mixed life that are annoying and, at times, disturbing: some people think I’m my father’s wife. Yes, some people see me, a brown-skinned, curly-haired 23-year old woman out with a white 57-year old man and assume that any relationship between us must be of a sexual and romantic nature. Are you vomiting yet?

Growing up, I instinctually knew that society would perceive us in this way and when I became a teenager, I would make it a point to call my father “dad” or refer to “mom” whenever we were out in public. My fear of being mislabeled was profound. As a little girl, no one thought that anything inappropriate was happening between my father and I; we were just father and daughter. But, as I grew older, I knew that doubts would arise.

I could see it in people’s eyes when my dad and I shopped for groceries. I could feel their judgement on my back when I would hug my dad in public.

“Who is this little brown girl?”

“Is she some mail order bride?”

“That’s disgusting.” 

This fear subsided for some time because I lived in New York, and people were liberal. It was not inconceivable for a white man to have a brown child in New York. However, moving to Georgia has shown me a different side of America. Here, I go out with my father with the constant fear that someone will assume that our relationship is not familial. The other day, we went to Walmart (I hate them, but my dad’s a sucker for a bargain), and at the checkout line, we engaged in our typical witty banter, much to the amusement of the beautiful and sweet African-American cashier. When my dad left the checkout line to wash his hands (he got chicken blood on them -__-), the cashier asked me my age.

“I’m 23.”

“Oh, wow! I was going to say 17!” she laughed.

“Yeah, that’s just because I have my glasses on.” I replied, smiling.

. . .

“Are y’all close?”, she asked.

I was taken aback. In what way was she asking this question? I hope she knows he’s my dad.

“Yeah, we are…he’s a good dad.” I answered. Good job, Gabby. Clarify the relationship.

“Really? Aw, thats great. It’s hard to find good dads these days.” she said, with a little sadness in her tone.

Amen, sister.

When my dad came back, the cashier remarked to him that I said he was a good father and he in turn commended me as a daughter.

We left the store and I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman who saw my father and I together and immediately knew what our relationship was. That is rare.

 

This feeling didn’t last long. The next day, my father was rushed to the ER with what he thought were heart attack symptoms (turns out it was a panic attack), and the EMT who arrived at our house referred to me as my father’s wife. My dad immediately corrected him and he apologized.

Blunders like that happen often, but I asked myself why does this happen so often to us? It’s clear that my dad is almost 60 and I’ve been mistaken for a teenager countless times. Does anyone seriously think we’re married? If so, why?

I believe there’s only one reason that some people don’t understand our relationship: my skin color. If I were completely white, no one would doubt that this almost 60-year old white man and white 23-year old girl were father and daughter. In fact, if the genders were switched, I highly doubt that anyone would assume an older white woman would be in a relationship with a young brown man. They would see him as her son, wouldn’t they? No one would question it. But, because I have brown skin and I’m a woman, suddenly the relationship is not clear. This should not be so.

We live in an era where people freely marry people of other cultures and have babies with them. These babies grow into young adults and then adults who must deal with society’s perception of them and their parents for their entire lives. It is so damaging to a mixed person to be perceived as so incredibly “other” that we must not be related. We must be some young bride. Some sugar baby. Isn’t that the picture they have in their heads?

I wish this would stop. A girl shouldn’t fear going in public with her father simply because she’s of a certain age and different skin tone than he is. So, yes my dad is white. He’s my dad and will always be my papa bear. I’ll hug him in public and let them think what they will. He’s my dad and that’s all that matters.