God Sees the Color of Our Skin
A Letter from a Catholic Woman
(Click on the letters to enlarge)
My sweet friend,
…For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be less Asian. Less foreign. Less other. So, I hid. I hid any trace of culture. My senior year of high school, I realized that I hid and ignored my ethnicity so well, that I forgot I was even intentionally hiding it. It became a way of life.
My teacher asked me to write a speech on how my race has impacted my life. And as I reflected on that question, all of the subconscious suppression of my ethnicity came to the light. Every experience of discrimination ceased to be isolated incidents and started to collectively come together. I realized how immensely my insecurity dictated my life and my self-concept.
With this reflection, it felt like I truly looked at myself in the mirror for the first time.
There is not one cause to blame for my insecurity. It wasn’t just the boy on the playground who stretched out his eyes and pretended to speak Chinese.
It wasn’t just the standard of beauty that only included white women. It wasn’t just the professors that continuously called me the names of the only other Asians students in the class.
It was all of it. It was every experience that reaffirmed my belief that there was something wrong with me because I was Asian.
This lie continued to reaffirm itself as I started to dive into my faith. I learned discrimination lived both in and out of church walls. However, this time around it was more painful because our Church upholds words like “Universal” “One Body” and “Dignity” whereas the world has no written ideals or values.
A couple summers ago, the tension between my love for the church and feeling foreign in it began to intensify. I lived in an intentional Catholic Community with 30 other Catholics pursuing holiness together. We loved each other so fiercely and selflessly in every way. Yet when it came to me and a particular part of my identity, I felt like there wasn’t room for me wholly in some of their hearts. They were comfortable loving some parts of me, but not me entirely.
I recognize it’s ignorance. But the reality is that, even without their knowledge, I felt reduced to my race. I’ve tried ignoring it. I’ve tried to not be “offended.” I’ve tried to always give them the benefit of the doubt. But I realized by doing this I was not calling these people, whom I loved, higher.
"I’ve tried ignoring it. I’ve tried to not be 'offended.' I’ve tried to always give them the benefit of the doubt. But I realized by doing this I was not calling these people, whom I loved, higher."
During one incident, a girl made a joke about my Asian eyes. At the moment, I think I laughed out of discomfort. But for the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Replaying it. I felt so unseen, ugly, and objectified. I wanted to tell her, “I’m sorry! I didn’t choose to be in this body and if I could change it I would!” I went to the chapel, trying to suppress my hurt. Trying not to stop my tears. Trying to invalidate my experience.
But in my rambling and chaotic thoughts, I felt His loving gaze pierce me, reminding me of who I am. I realized that the way other people see me is not how the Lord sees me. I am not His second thought. He did not choose a lesser skin color for me. He did not want me to be less Asian. He did not think I was foreign. He did not think I was lesser than anyone else.
The Lord when He looks at me does not see just see my soul. He sees the little girl who I see when I look in the mirror. He sees me wholly and entirely and is in awe of my beauty.
"The Lord when He looks at me does not see just see my soul. He sees the little girl who I see when I look in the mirror. He sees me wholly and entirely and is in awe of my beauty."
Friend, if you can relate to my story in some way, I am deeply sorry. I’m sorry you’ve been lied to. The truth is that there is always room for you at the table of the Lord. There’s a seat with your name written on it, a seat in which the Father looks at lovingly and achingly when you’re not there.
I’m endlessly thankful to belong to the Universal Church. I hope you are too. Because when you are in the Church, the Church looks more like Heaven.
You belong here. You’re needed here. You’re wanted here. There is a place for you. I promise.