Receiving Holy Hospitality is Hard for Me

Readers and friends,

I’ve been in India for a month now, well exactly a month yesterday, and although my time here has been fun and fulfilling, God has been trying to bring another f-word into my life: freedom. For far too long I’ve been sitting on the sidelines, hesitatingly accepting hospitality from others, feeling afraid to fully immerse myself into the lives of the families that God has placed me in for the time being. I’m too scared to jump right in, allowing others to treat me as part of their own. I’m afraid that one day they’ll suddenly look at me and say, “Who are you? What are you doing here? You don’t belong here! Get out!”

When someone does something nice for me, an act of service, I find it hard to fully embrace it. I often feel like I owe them something. I feel like I’m in debt to them. I feel so incredibly guilty. Even with people I’ve known for years, I find it very hard to accept their open and giving hospitality. Here’s an example:

I have a family in India that I call my own family. I met them three years ago and have hosted them once in New York. They’ve hosted me twice in India. I call the wife “Momma” and the husband “Dad.” Their two sons are my two brothers and they call me their sister. When Momma and Dad introduce me to their friends, they refer to me as their “daughter from the U.S.” When one wants to care for their family members, they do anything, right? With no complaints, right? Why do we care for our family members with all of our hearts? Because we love them. Because they’re family.

Well, my biological family is different. Growing up, my childhood was terrible. I grew up in a home where I was yelled at for every little thing. If I sat for too long on the couch, I was yelled at and called lazy. If I forgot to do the dishes or take out food for dinner, I was yelled at and called lazy. If I left my room a little bit messy for a few days, I was yelled at and called lazy. If I finished a bag of chips or cereal, I was yelled at and called greedy. I became afraid of doing anything. I couldn’t sit, stand, eat, clean, or do anything properly. My entire existence was just me walking on eggshells around my own house. The thing is, I never realized this when I was a kid, because I was just living it and trying to survive. Now that I’m approaching my mid-twenties, flashbacks and memories are coming up every so often and it reduces me to tears and maybe a little panic attack, which is what happened last night.

My Indian momma and dad consistently care for me, through feeding me, giving me the room with the A/C, taking me wherever I have to go, buying things for me, and just generally loving me in spite of my past and flaws. They give me advice, guidance, and unconditional love. Last night, all of this came to a point where I cried a little in the car on the way home from driving twenty minutes to pick up my contact lenses. My Indian dad just drove me there and back with no hesitation. While in the car, I had memories of being a child and teen, having different appointments, and hearing complaints from my father. “Why do you have so many things to do?” “You’re costing me so much gas money.” “Everything you do costs money.” I distinctly remembered feeling like a small child when these memories came back to me. I heard my father’s voice in my head. I was transported back to that time and the panic began. My pulse quickened. My body flushed. I didn’t want my dad and brother to know I was having a panic attack, so I swallowed my feelings and prayed that God would let me get home quickly so I could cry in my room.

I got in my room and called my mother in the U.S. She cried with me and lamented for what happened all those years ago. She encouraged me to share these feelings of guilt with my Indian parents. I really didn’t want to. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to express them well. I was scared that they wouldn’t understand. They saw that my face was sad so they asked me what was wrong and that opened the floodgates of my feelings. They already knew about my childhood so I told them that I was having flashbacks and that I felt guilty for eating their food, taking their nice room, and letting them do nice things for me. Momma immediately started rubbing my back and Dad said countless encouraging things. One of my little brothers came over to me with mango ice cream. He shows love with acts of service. The other brother gave me a little smile from across the room. He’s not the best with emotional things. My Indian parents immediately said, “Gabby, you’re family. You belong here. You belong so much here. This is your home. No need to feel guilty.” Then they reminded me of Christ’s words when He told us that when we leave our biological families, we find parents and siblings everywhere else.

Lord, help me accept these families as gifts from Your hand. 

Gabrielle G.

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Being Despised for My Youth (It Sucks)

Readers, I’m pissed. Yeah, I said it. I’m absolutely 100% pissed off.

I don’t typically approve of myself when I become angry, but this time I learned a few things about myself and my life. Here’s the story:

I met one of my cousins today for the first time ever. She’s ten years older than me and is in a different place than me, literally and figuratively. She’s from the South, she has a romantic partner, and a full-time job in an office. It seems like she’s content with that life. 

If anyone talks to me for five minutes, they can figure out that I would never be satisfied with that life at all. It would drive me crazy to be confined to one place, the place where I grew up, and just get a job in an office. Ugh gag me now.

So, of course she knew I was going to India because although we just met today, we have been friends on Facebook for a while. She’s seen my posts about India. Not knowing anything about me, she made a few judgements about my trip to India and that’s where ya girl got a bit upset.

So my cousin begins this line of questioning with a blank face. It felt like an interrogation.

“I don’t understand this trip.”

“You’re not working?”

“So why are you going? You’re going just to go?”

“Don’t be one of those Americans who thinks they can drink that dirty water over there.”

“Are you just going for the experience?”

“You say you hate living here but every country has its problems so I don’t understand why you’re going to India.”

“But where are you going to stay?”

“You’ve only been there for six weeks before? Ok, but that’s different than a few months.”

“I’m just concerned because you seem to have no plans.”

 

Now she said all of this before I even got a CHANCE to explain my trip. Before I had an opportunity to tell her about my plans, my accommodations, and my goals. All I was able to say, before she took over, was “I’m going to India for a couple months.”

 

The way she spoke to me was just how a condescending adult talks to a person they deem an ignorant child. No, my life choices won’t make sense to someone who thinks that working the same office job for ten years is satisfying. I don’t have a permanent home on this earth. I don’t have a lot of money or a lot of material things. I don’t care about any of that. I live a sort of vagabond life, neither here nor there. There’s nothing wrong with that. You think I’m crazy for living that life, but I think you’re crazy for living your life. Maybe we’re both crazy. Maybe neither of us is crazy.

 

Either way, don’t be rude about something you don’t understand. Damn.

 

P.S. I’m starting my period soon so I guess I’m a little sensitive at the moment. But, still!!

 

Gabrielle G.

 

 

When Your Family Doesn’t Understand

Readers,

I feel like I’m not even sure where to start with this. I have so many thoughts muddled in my brain that to even begin feels so daunting. But, begin I must and therefore here we go.

If you’ve been a reader of mine for a minute, you know that I have a divine calling for overseas, cross-cultural work. It is a calling that is beyond me. Lord knows I could easily work full-time, invest in a career, marry, and have children here in the U.S. I could go on vacation once a year and sit in a church pew every Sunday. I could give to homeless people sometimes and maybe have a brief chat with them. That would be easy for me. That’s the “American Dream” now.

Yet that is not my calling. Since my childhood, I’ve had a strong feeling that I would not live in the United States, that I would not marry young, and that I would adopt children. I can’t quite explain why I felt this way, but it almost feels as if I was born this way.

If you want to know more about this feeling and how my life has played out as a result, please let me know and I’ll write about it in more detail.

Now, most of you know that I’m going to India for at least two months. While there, I’ll be exploring different parts of India that I’ve never seen before. I expect to see amazing things and meet incredible people. I have a good Father and I know He wants me there! He has made that VERY clear.

As I get ready to go, as I raise funds, and tie up loose ends here in NYC, I’ve felt so much confusion from my family members! A few have said, “Why can’t you just get a full-time job here and build up your career? You can serve Him here.” Others have said things like, “It must be nice to not have to work full-time, take care of kids, and just go travel.” 

If they think I’m going on vacation, they’ve clearly missed the point of everything that I’ve ever written or spoken about. 

While reflecting on all of this, I’ve come to a realization: it’s okay if my blood family doesn’t understand why I’m doing this, why I’m going to India. My eternal family understands and supports me. That’s what matters. Our Lord wasn’t understood by His family or disciples while here on earth, so why should I be understood?

The life I’m choosing, or rather, the life that I feel has been chosen for me, doesn’t make any sense to the world. The world says “make money moves, build an empire, build a kingdom, get what you want.” Oh, I want to build a kingdom alright, but it’s not my kingdom at all. It’s His. I’m going to do kingdom work. 

So, no, it won’t make sense to worldly people that I want to leave all of my possessions, go to a country where I don’t speak any of the languages, and serve my Father. It just won’t. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make much sense to brothers and sisters in the faith either. It’s “too extreme”, “too risky”, “too dangerous” to do what my Father has called for me to do.

Yet He has called me out. I must respond. I must go. He has commanded me. He has commanded us. GO!

Blessings,

Gabrielle G.

Still Dark in Puerto Rico: My First Protest

Friday, December 29th marked 100 days since Hurricane Maria attacked Puerto Rico, leaving the island completely without power or water. Medical attention was next to impossible, as the hospitals had no electricity. Even getting to the hospital was unimaginable, due to fallen trees and the lack of gas for cars.

 

After Hurricane Maria initially struck the island, all communication ceased for a few days. Family members desperately tried to contact each other both on the island and the mainland U.S., but found little luck. I personally did not hear about my family for several days and when we finally received word, we heard that they were safe, yet had no food, water, or power. Initially my first thought was, “They have to leave the island! Let’s get them off!” I consulted my mother and we determined that I could house four people in my apartment and she could house some in hers. After concocting this plan, we learned that no one wanted to leave the island. Not even parents with young children. I could easily discern that Puerto Rico’s immediate recovery was going to take an extremely long time and schools could be closed for a while, if not shut down permanently. Why wouldn’t a family with young children move to the mainland for a better life if a positive future in Puerto Rico was impossible? Well, I guess the people of Puerto Rico have more faith than I do because, although many of them left the island, many stayed behind.

 

One of my aunts in Puerto Rico regularly uses her Facebook page to update her friends on life in Puerto Rico. She typically writes brief status updates: “No hay luz. (There’s no light)” “No hay agua (There’s no water).” “No tenemos comida (We don’t have food).” Each status update brought new waves of despair over me and I felt completely helpless. At times, she posted that they had electricity and water only to post again a few hours later that they lost it. With my current financial situation, I’m pretty unable to tangibly help my family in Puerto Rico. Literally the only thing I can offer is prayer for everyone and everything affected by Hurricane Maria. But, I try not to doubt the power of my prayers. God moves mountains when those who love Him pray to Him and ask for His intervention.

 

As the days have passed, mainstream media has completely forgotten about Puerto Rico. While the media initially remarked on the damage, the number of deaths (we’ll return to that in a minute), and Trump’s idiotic and tone-deaf response to the island, coverage has diminished. It’s only natural; other news stories take precedence, I suppose. But, people on the island are still suffering. Many people still do not have power or water. People don’t have food. Yes, these are people and are valuable because they are image-bearers of God, but they are also American citizens. How can American citizens suffer in this way when the U.S. can do whatever they want? The U.S. has absolutely everything and its disposal, yet has not used that privilege to expedite help to Puerto Rico. In fact, it seems like more than just neglecting Puerto Rico after the hurricane, they are taking steps to lie about how damaged the island is. One facet of this cover-up is the death toll. We were first informed by mainstream media that a few dozen people in Puerto Rico died from the hurricane. Questionable as that statement was from the beginning, I thought, “Well, even the Puerto Rican government is saying this, so I suppose it must be true. Certainly the Puerto Rican government wouldn’t conceal the true death toll. They want aid!”

We’ve just learned that the death toll is over one thousand people, most of them dying after the hurricane. This means that because the U.S. didn’t act expediently, people died from its negligence. People undoubtedly died because of lack of water, medicine, and food. The U.S. has Puerto Rican blood on its hands, but this is definitely not the first time that has happened.

 

On December 29th, many Puerto Ricans and supporters gathered in Union Square Park in New York City to protest this ridiculous response by the U.S. government. I was one of those Puerto Ricans. Standing outside in below 15 degree F weather was certainly not my idea of a good time, but as one of the speakers, Rosa Clemente, said, “Standing outdoors in the cold for two hours is nothing compared to what our family and friends have suffered on the island over the past one hundred days.” Since it was my first protest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I arrived, protest organizers handed me a sheet of paper with the Puerto Rican national anthem and some chants as well as a few articles about the truth that the U.S. government doesn’t want us to know about Puerto Rico. My toes and fingers ached with cold and my ears cried to be covered. But, I felt so proud to stand there along with different generations of Puerto Ricans as one cohesive unit. No matter our borough or language, we were one. Spanish-speakers, English-speakers, Puerto Ricans, Caucasians, African-Americans, former Young Lords members, people in their 20s, parents, and teens all gathered together. The solidarity in the air was incredible. We sang the Puerto Rican national anthem together and while most people didn’t know it, I did and I sang it with solemn pride.

 

The protest finished out with drum playing and joyful victory chants. We believed in a victory that we couldn’t yet see. That’s faith. My first protest was a cold and serious experience, but I thought about everyone who couldn’t be there that night. Rosa Clemente said that each person standing there represented a hundred people who couldn’t come. That deeply resonated with me. I stood there, in New York City, one Puerto Rican among many, yet representing my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, and on and on until we reach our Taino, African, and Spaniard ancestors. I knew that my grandmother would have beamed with pride if she were alive today and knew that her granddaughter was woke, passionate, and committed to Puerto Rican restoration. My grandmother was a strong Puerto Rican woman. My mother is a strong Puerto Rican woman. This is the stock from which I’m made. I will continue to push forward, writing the truth each step of the way, praying that it sets someone free. Pa’lante. Siempre pa’lante.

 

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

 

Cultivating Divine Gratitude

Readers,

 

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! (If you’re in my time zone, that is.) What a problematic holiday, am I right? Native and indigenous rights are being discussed more and more as each Thanksgiving passes and I love it. This piece isn’t about that, but it is about something we all need to read right now. After you read my piece, go read up on the Dakota pipeline news.

 

The fabulous Jenay, the creator of the Afro-Latina blog “HashtagIAmEnough”, asked me to write a piece of thankfulness and God. I’ve never been ASKED to write about God before so this was certainly a thrill for me! Head on over to her blog to read it and check out her other amazing posts.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

 

Cultivating Divine Gratitude by Gabrielle Greiner

Self-Sabotage and the Single Girl

Readers,

I have a confession to make. I self-sabotage all the time. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, I’ll find a way to make it harder for myself. Jobs, boyfriends, friends, it doesn’t matter! I self-sabotage.

This realization has come upon me recently and for a few weeks I wondered why I did this so constantly. It’s become almost second nature for me. Well, I think I have an idea why.

I grew up in an abusive home. My parents had a marriage void of love, respect, or shared purpose. My dad was not the best example of a father OR a husband. As a result, I’ve noticed ways I react to conflict or difficult situations that must have been learned in childhood. When there’s a conflict, I fight viciously for myself and cut ties. When it appears that someone is taking advantage of me, I remove all emotion from my words and treat that person in a professional way. When a job seems like it might be too hard for me, I quit the job or find reasons not to take it.

This was taught to me in my childhood. When my parents had a fight, divorce was threatened each time. My father would leave for the night, slamming the door and abandoning us. My mother would then go to the bank, taking out cash and teaching me how to “get what I need for myself.”

So much happened in my childhood that I’m slowly seeing how even my relationships with simple things like money or food have been distorted because I’ve never seen a healthy example of one.

What’s the point of all of this? I’m a runner. In difficult situations, I neither flee nor fight. I freeze.

But when people hurt me or appear to manipulate me, I fight with all I’ve got. It’s a positive thing that I’m a fighter. However I have to let my shield down a bit and put my sword back in its place.

Because sometimes, a person will show you that they would never treat you like how your dad used to. They aren’t that person from your past. And if they’re worth anything, they’ll stick around while you painfully and awkwardly discover that.

 

Be patient. Work out the lies you’ve believed and harmful habits from your childhood.

 

Let God heal them. Let God show you that there are people out there who will love you.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

When Your Parents Divorce (For Adults)

This is hard. This is vulnerable. This is complete exposure, but if it helps one person, it’s worth it.

After almost 30 years of marriage, my parents are divorcing. The divorce will be final later this month. A divorce can take those two people through incredible ups and downs. There are moments of sadness, times of relief, and seasons of depression. After all this time? We’re just going to throw it all away?

What happened with my parents is their own personal business, but I will talk about what happened inside me during this time.

For years, divorce had been a constant threat in my family. Ever since I was a little girl, my parents would fight weekly, big blowup fights, and divorce was promised each time. It never happened. So, by the time I reached my current age, 23, hearing of a divorce would not be too much of a shock for me.

In fact, a few years ago, when my mother would call me while I was away at college, complaining about my dad, I encouraged her to do whatever she needed to do. Even if that meant divorce.

But in the past few years, things seemed to get a lot better. The screaming diminished. The insults were silenced. Relations improved. Or, so I thought.

When my parents announced in April that they were going to divorce, it took me a bit by surprise. I had thought that we were going to be a family forever. I had assumed that their relationship wasn’t that bad.

Through this time, unfortunately my parents deemed it appropriate to seek my counsel. I counseled my mom. I counseled my dad. Remember I’ve had zero relationship experience and these are my own parents. But, I did my best to give them Biblical counsel.

After my counsel was rejected, the divorce was pursued full-force.

I felt defeated. I felt vulnerable. I felt broken.

My parents were no longer my parents. They were real human beings who needed freedom from each other. But, I couldn’t see this at the time. At that time, I screamed, whined, and cried all the time.

“Great.” I thought. “My parents had a shit marriage and now I’m going to have a shit marriage.”

“Where will I spend the holidays? Well, it’s not like we had any real traditions anyway.”

“Do I have to pick a side?”

 

For a few months, I was on the receiving end of my dad’s complaints about mom and mom’s complaints about dad. I was asked for advice. For my opinion. I was given deep and dark information about many things I had no desire to know. Secrets from 1995 were revealed to me. Specific abuses were described.

My heart was broken. My spirit was abused. There were no boundaries whatsoever.

 

So, if you’re an adult, or even a teenager, and your parents are getting divorced, hear you this:

  1. Create boundaries. This is hard for each person and it looks different for every relationship. Check out the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
  2. DO NOT feel selfish for keeping distance for the sake of your mental health. You do not owe your parents anything. You don’t have to sacrifice your happiness for their sake.
  3. DO NOT give advice. It’s not your place, love. They need counseling. If they ask, say “I’d rather not talk about that.” or “It’s not my place.”
  4. Lean into your Abba in heaven for consolation.
  5. Remember that your parents’ marriage will not determine how your future marriage will be. Although their actions affect you, they do not rule you. You and God determine your life.
  6. Have faith. It gets better. It really does.
  7. Rest with your siblings. Bitch about your parents. Spend time with them. They are your biggest allies right now.
  8. Find your life apart from your parents. ❤

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

My Abuela: Mariana Gonzalez

She was a typical Puerto Rican woman in so many ways that pain me to explain:

  1. She never went to school and was illiterate.
  2. She had ten children and raised them alone.
  3. She lived in Brooklyn, NY in her adult years.
  4. She was taught to serve men.
  5. She sacrificed her entire life for her children.

 

My grandmother was a warrior. A luchadora. She passed from pancreatic cancer when I was 11 and therefore I really don’t know much about her. I’ve been taught that she had a difficult life but she always kept a smile on her face. She believed that no matter how little you have, you always have a plate of rice and beans to give someone. That’s love.

As I transition back into NYC, the place my grandmother called home for so many years, I’ve decided that I have to collect her story. I will go back to her old apartment in Downtown Brooklyn and find neighbors who remember her. I’ll book a flight to Arecibo, Puerto Rico and learn about her island years, the years that shaped her beginnings. I will write her story because she deserves to have it known to the world.

 

I love you, Abuela.

 

 

Stay tuned…

 

 

Gabrielle G.

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.

Restoring Distorted Family Legacies

If you ask me what my family has been known for throughout the generations, I could easily list several negative things: drug abuse, domestic violence, witchcraft, poverty, lack of education, etc.

We’re also known for our resilience. Many of us have served the US through military service. Most of the younger generation has dedicated their lives to serve The Lord. 

These positive aspects of my family’s legacy don’t really outweigh the negative aspects, especially when you consider the spiritual realm.

One of the more painful parts of my family’s legacy has been the involvement in witchcraft, or Santeria, as Latinos like to call it. Santeria is not considered witchcraft by many Latinos, rather it is viewed as the cultural expression of Latino Christianity. Yes, those who practice Santeria believe themselves to be Christian, most of the time. They pray to saints with candles (the ones you see at the botanicas on the street), they have statues of saints that they feed, give money to, or do some other type of ritual to. But, many of these people will tell you that they love Jesus and they do these rituals for good. This “religion” came from our African ancestors who were forced into Catholicism. Rather than give up their paganism, they simply molded the two together and worshipped their idols under the guise of Catholicism.

Readers, Santeria is NOT Christianity. Jesus tells us that we cannot mix light and dark. Light has no fellowship with darkness. (2 Cor. 6:14-17). Jesus repeatedly tells us in Scripture that He is the only way to God (John 14:6), and that He is the ONLY mediator (I Timothy 2:5). Scripture warns us in multiple passages against becoming involved in the occult and gives us examples of people who give up that life to follow Jesus. (Deut. 18:10-11, Lev. 19:31, Acts 16:16-18, Acts 19:19).

Santeria was the legacy of my family. It kept my Puerto Rican family in bondage for generations. The Lord in His tender lovingkindness looked upon my mother and chose her to be the one to break this generational sin. He did this by instructing her in His ways from her childhood and as a result, her mother (my abuela) came to faith as did I, also in my childhood.

Praise be to The Lord!

Since Santeria is witchcraft, we know that those who practice it are exposed to demonic activity and to possession by demons themselves. I have to wonder if the vicious cycles of drug abuse, domestic violence, molestation, poverty, and lack of education are all due to my family’s involvement with witchcraft. I’m inclined to believe that it’s the cause, because we know that The Lord brings restoration, peace, and comfort to our souls.

It’s tough for me to swallow this part of my family’s legacy. I wish it were not so, but then The Lord reminds me that He takes the most unlikely candidate and turns them into one of His fiercest and bravest soldiers. Although my family was bound in the past, the generations to come (should The Lord tarry), will not be bound by any of those generational sins and curses.

Who would have thought that the great-granddaughter of a woman who practiced Santeria would be a strong-minded, discerning, loyal follower of Jesus Christ? I thank God that He is restoring my family’s story through my mother and through my own life as well.

How does one restore their family’s legacy? Simple. Jesus! Give your life to Jesus and He breaks any generational sin and/or curse. He will restore what has been broken through His hand over your life.

 

Rest in His arms,

 

Gabrielle G.