Writer's Workshop--Faith and Heritage

Writing prompt: Write a post about a childhood memory as if you're in that moment again...from the perspective of yourself as that child.
       I'm Hispanic. I'm also Christian. These two facts are not mutually inclusive, but you might not understand how they are related in reference to me. Well, let me tell you....

Sixth grade--circa 1987
      I don't know where the term "wetback" comes from. I know that it's not good and I know that no one should be calling me that. It isn't the first time I've felt different since we moved here. We moved to the country from Kansas City when I was in the second grade. I wasn't different in Kansas City. In fact everyone I knew what either black or Chicano, but not here. Here I'm the strange one. Here everyone whispers about how "dark" my dad is. Here the new kid from Texas can call me a wetback in reading class in front of the whole class AND the teacher and it's ok because we are having a "discussion". The teachers don't know that introducing sixth graders to a derogatory term, even in a controlled discussion is like lighting a fire in a dry field. I heard that word whispered, in the halls of the school for many years and I heard that word in my head for longer than that.
       Sixth grade isn't the first time I've felt the sting of discrimination--it's not even the worst. The first time I realized that being different was a problem I was actually in church and that single event would color my views on God and religion for more than 25 years.

My family and I are now proud
members of the Lutheran church.
      My mom took us (my brother and I) to church. Over the years there were several churches, several denominations. My father only attended once a year--Christmas. I dreaded it. The Christmas program marked an inevitable end to fitting in. Once my father was seen my secret was out; people then knew I was "mixed". After overhearing some old women tisking over us, "poor mixed children" I decided that if that's what Godly people thought and did, I no longer wanted any part of it.
       Soon it was easy enough to find ways out of church. I was older and busy with school activities. Later still, I worked. College came and I searched for meaning anywhere but in a church. I did learn to embrace my heritage eventually. But learning to embrace God took a lot longer. It took pregnancy to make me realize that I wanted my children to have faith and I knew that that was going to be a tall order when I wasn't sure I had it myself.
        I also knew that it was necessary to find a church that would accept me, but after a few months of listening to the pastor preach I realized that it wasn't the acceptance of the congregation that I needed. I finally found the acceptance that I had been searching for all those years; the acceptance that comes from an unconditional love.

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