I somehow missed this topic in my introductory post on A Long(er) View of Interracial Marriage, perhaps because it inherently carries less hope than the other topics I’ve covered. I’ve been sitting on it for awhile because it’s more weary-and-burdened than come-to-Jesus, but it’s still a part of the story that needs to be told – harsh, but true.
It’s been just over four months now since we’ve been the only interracial couple in town and I think I’m just beginning to thaw. I had a dream last night that we were in Indiana and ran across two other interracial couples at a local restaurant. When they saw us, they first looked shocked, then pleased. I exchanged an awkward I-don’t-know-you-but-I-understand-why-you-look-so-excited-to-see-me glance with one woman as I walked out the door of a restaurant where we’d typically received what-are-you-doing-here stares. Then, I went outside to sit on a blanket with my husband where we were going to have a quiet little picnic together. My first inclination was to tell him, “There was another interracial couple inside!” which really translated to: “We’re not alone! We really are ok!” but I couldn’t say a word. Instead, I looked for food and realized we didn’t have enough, so I let my husband eat it and I went hungry, resting on the blanket in the warm sun, feeling quiet and sad.
When I woke up, I was confused why I’d felt sad. Shouldn’t I have been happy that I’d seen another interracial couple? It was then I realized what my emotions were settling into: we’re not the only ones anymore. I haven’t felt that feeling of racial objectification in well over four months, and it feels soooo healing to be seen for ourselves and not our skin. I realized that in my dream, I hadn’t really even wanted to tell my husband about who I’d seen. I was tired of talking about race and our inability to ever blend in. We’d lived eight years scrounging for nourishment to sustain the interracial/intercultural part of our identity, and it simply wasn’t there.
My dream highlighted one of the hardest parts of interracial marriage we’ve encountered: isolation. Not all marriages like ours face this, but when they do, it’s certainly not a cakewalk. I don’t claim to suggest that we’ve always handled the isolation well – it many ways I still feel like a failure for not being able to withstand it. In my head, I hear people whispering things like, “Why do they always have to make such a big deal about those things?” or “Can’t they just get over it?” or, perhaps the hardest of all, “If Jesus is what unites us, why does race matter?” Ultimately, a significant piece of me feels guilty that escape was our only resolve.
Over the years, I’ve suspected many share our feelings of isolation for a variety of reasons – differing faith convictions, disabled children, addiction, divorce, dysfunctional childhoods – really anything that causes them to stand out from the perceived norm. I find myself drawn to people willing to be honest about the path they’re walking without over-spiritualizing their response to it. At the same time, I acknowledge that any peace won in the midst of such struggles ultimately comes from a place of deep spiritual grounding.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus promised. Clearly he knew we’d all feel lonely at some point. The reality that I’ve observed is that while we’re quick to advertise our “come-to-Jesus” responses to our struggles, it’s not nearly as safe to share the “weary-and-burdened” ones. I wish I could offer more direction on this, but it’s a very unresolved struggle for me.
So, I’m curious… How do you live in your unresolved and isolating struggles? What characteristics do you see in people who do this ‘well’?
Other articles in this series: