Doubt was not welcome in Mama’s home. If you didn’t have enough faith to stand with her, you’d better take your doubtful behind somewhere else or keep your mouth shut. She taught me that people can either breathe life into you or suck life out of you and the blessings that God intends for you. Let me tell you this right now, my mama didn’t mind letting folks know that if they had negative breath, they couldn’t come to her house breathing all that negativity on her blessings!
According to my mama, negativity is extremely contagious and very dangerous.I developed the same attitude. If folks couldn’t breathe on my mama’s blessings, I sure didn’t need ’em breathing on mine. Shoot, I’m a closet doubter. My testimony might not survive something like that.
Sometimes we don’t act like Christians. Sometimes we are actually running around here acting like “tians” (without the Christ part). In Ebonics tians means “enemy to Jesus.” Just kidding. I made that definition up. However, don’t you go acting shocked when tian ends up in the Urban Dictionary.
Anyway, not long ago a pastor from another church in¬formed me that because I was Mormon, I wasn’t Christian and that I was no longer part of the black commu¬nity. I had one of those “pastor puhleeze” moments. His announcement was more amusing than hurtful. Because when I went into the baptismal font I was black, and when I came out of the water, I was still black. The last time I checked, Psalm 51:2 said (urban dictionary translation), “I’m clean. All them sins is gone! Hallelu-yer.” That scripture didn’t say nothing about all my color, culture, or ethnicity being gone with the sins.
It’s a good thing that while my mama was teaching me how to pray, she was also teaching me that even men of God can get it wrong sometimes. That’s why we can’t trust in the arm of flesh alone. Now that doesn’t mean for you to run up on your pastor and say, “Sista Beehive said I can’t trust you!” Slow down. I don’t want to be the reason you stop going to church. It means that even when your ecclesiastical leaders tell you something, you still need to pray about it.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that Mormons aren’t the only Christians getting picked on. Is it just me, or does it seem like some Christians are constantly trying to kick folks out of the Christian Country Club?
After the pastor finished telling me why he didn’t consider black Mormons to be Christian and why he didn’t feel that black Mormons (me included) were part of the black community, I remembered my mama’s teachings. I already told you that she taught me a long time ago that negativity was contagious, so I knew that the man I was talking to didn’t have the ability to look at me with his Christian glasses on.
Because of my mama’s prayers and the words of affirmation she spoke over me, I’ve always known who I am and have been comfortable with myself. Being comfortable with myself and having faith in God means that I’m going to reserve my place and actively participate in all my communities. The truth is, just by speaking words, I could stop belonging to almost every cultural group I belong to. But no matter what I say, words won’t change my ethnicity. So, to those who claim that black Mormons are no longer a part of the black community, all I got to say about that is, I’ma pray for you!
My mama’s intimate relationship with our Father in Heaven extended beyond prayer. She knew Him, and she knew what He was capable of doing in her life. I’m grateful that she armed me with all the tools I needed to develop a foundational relationship with Him. My mama was ushered into eternity more than ten years ago, but long before she went, she had made sure I had a solid religious foundation, and the religious organization I belong to now helps reiterate the guiding principles she taught me in my youth.
By the time I finished reminiscing in my head about my mama and what she had taught me about prayer, Sunday School was over. But here’s what I would have shared with my Sunday School class on Mother’s Day: My mama taught me that prayer was personal. She taught me that God could and would communicate with me in my language, so there was no need for me to try to be someone I wasn’t. She taught me to believe in my inner voice and to know that I had a direct line of communication with my Father in Heaven. Between my mama, aunts, uncles, and a few cousins, I practically grew up in a theological school. With all the things my mama taught me, it was her example that had the greatest impact.
Daily Doubt Vaccination,
Excerpt from Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons: Finding the Lord's Lessons in Everday Life by Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith. Used with permission from Deseret Books.