It was a Saturday morning and we were out for breakfast at a local greasy spoon. She and I had known each other for four going on five years. Over the course of living life with this amazing young woman, I had always sensed a desire to know and seek God but something seemed to be getting in the way.
So I asked, "What sort of person do you think of when you think of God?"
"An old white man with a long white beard".
"Really?" I replied. In some ways I was not surprised that the "white Jesus image" was imprinted on her mind since we often give our responsibility to teach our young people about their faith away, quite unintentionally at times.
She confirmed and went into great detail about what this sort of God would look like. Mostly, she painted a picture of Jolly Old Saint Nick.
"If you think of someone who really loves you and really knows you what sort of person do you think of?" I inquired.
"An older wise black auntie," she smiled.
And I grinned back at her. This was more the idea I was hoping for. Her eyes lit up at this idea and she began to explain how she felt more comfortable talking and praying to a God who just might look more like her.
Spending time listening to our diverse groups of young people and helping them to re-imagine their image of God is quite a task. This task is essential to our journey's with young people because they hold within them the key which will unlock their ability to truly and authentically connect with the God of Love. Sometimes it's our job to help them find the key.
Sometimes they help us find ours.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor