Samuel Jerome and Richnightder

Samuel Jerome and Richnightder
Our boys in Haiti

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shining Through

Many of you know the extreme racism that we experienced at church back in North Dakota.  It was a disgusting situation that would shock anybody in current times, or for that fact, anybody that believes we as humans are made in the image and likeness of God.  The pain we felt at the time was immeasurable. 

We feel like we've collectively come through the gates of hell and have landed in a place of refuge.  While no place is perfect, we feel good to be here.  The kids have settled in and our summer is packed with people visiting and kids' camps and sports.  Looking forward is good for us, and not looking backward. 

I prayed like crazy during that difficult time.  I prayed with fervor like I've only done a handful of times in my 4 decades + of life.  Out of our heartache and gut-punch came good things.  Things we are still trying to wrap our brains around. But even though we are happy and settled, we still have these lingering feelings of fear, panic, and entrapment that spring to the for front of our minds.  I was talking to a new friend here and she labeled the feelings as PTSD. 

I never gave the feelings a title, but I feel it's accurate.   Out of the 9 years we lived in North Dakota, we worked hard to blend in and adapt to our new living environment.  We gave of our time and sacrificed family time to help our new community.  No matter how hard we worked and volunteered, we were kept at arms length by the 'locals'.  We laughed about it then. We joked that we would never be accepted as residents since we were not born on our great grandfathers farm, attend the two room schoolhouse, the church your family helped build, marry your neighbor who lives on the farm next door, send your kids to the same two room schoolhouse and then die in the house in which you were born.  Living and dying on one road in North Dakota. 

Our family was just too much for them to integrate.  What happened at our church was a slap in the face and hindsight offers a perspective we weren't able to grasp at the moment.  We would have continued to change who we were in the hopes of being accepted by people who made it abundantly clear would never have fully accepted us as friends and neighbors.

What we learned from this experience is that while it is necessary to acclimate to whatever culture you might be living in, it's not good to lose sight of who you are.  Our family did a little introspection and realized some key traits that we have.  As a family we are kind and generous, have great sense of humours, and are proud to be an atypical appearing lot.  Not a single one of us are related by DNA, yet we have a cohesiveness that would try any of those 'one road' families in North Dakota.

We look back on our life in North Dakota and are immensely happy to be outta there.  I learned a lot about myself there.  I learned that the people of rural North Dakota are some of the friendliest people around........... if you look just like them and have similar 'one-road-life stories' to share. 


Tifanni said...

Love this G, I hate that you guys had to deal with so much crap over the past years, but I love how you've been able to look inward, and learn about yourself through this. I love your commitment to never change to be accepted. Rock on Lauries :)

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've visited your blog, and I just wanted to apologize. I am from North Dakota; I was born and raised there. (Well, born in South Dakota, but it's kinda all the same.) I just graduated college in Kansas and am preparing to move back home to North Dakota.

I just wanted to apologize for people who are not willing to accept people who may look different than them. I know you've lived the experience, and I am so sorry people were rude and hurtful. Please don't lump all North Dakotans into that group. What you say has a lot of validity about North Dakotans not being open to welcoming newcomers--I think that's really true. I grew up in a small town and see it all the time. I feel terrible you've been hurt by people in North Dakota--I know "I'm sorry" is probably not nearly fitting enough to cover the pain you've felt by people, but I am really sorry.

Also, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences because I know I need to remember to be welcoming and accepting to people. Some people find it hard to be honest about their experiences, and I thank you for your honesty. People need to hear honest words. So thank you for sharing your life on this blog.

Anonymous said...

My, you certainly have unforgettable and complicated moments back then. Honestly, I simply your strength of character and trust in other people despite of what you have been through. I believe that you really are a good person for clinging into something and holding on to it. But unfortunately, it was never there. I’m very glad that those days were over. At least now you have simply proven yourself worthy of happiness, freedom and everything. God bless!

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