As multicultural and interracial marriages grow in popularity, I think it only fitting to honor those who were overcoming (and still are overcoming) cultural and stereotypical barriers in times before ours.
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with someone I’ll call Maggie, a lovely woman of Scottish descent who married a man from Singapore in the 1990s. (I’ll call him John.) They have three beautiful children.
Through the years Maggie has encountered racism because of her marriage – mostly the indirect type. Like the time when they moved to a new house, in a different location, and she was meeting some of the neighbors.
“I noticed an Asian man clipping your hedge the other day,” one woman said. “Is he your gardener?”
Maggie hesitated. “Uh, no,” she said. “He’s my husband.”
Her neighbor’s eyebrows shot up, and the conversation died shortly thereafter. 🙂
The real opposition to her marriage, though, happened years before in Maggie’s own family.
When things began to become serious between the two, Maggie’s grandmother actually called her in to beg her to reconsider.
“You can’t trust them,” she told Maggie. “Look what they did in the Second World War!”
“But Granny, that was the Japanese!” Maggie objected. “John is from Singapore, a totally different country.”
But Maggie’s grandmother was still set against the match. In her eyes, the Japanese, Chinese and Singaporeans were all the same. She refused even to meet John.
It tore Maggie’s heart, because her grandmother was such an important person in her life. She prayed for her grandmother to change her mind.
Then one day, Maggie’s grandmother fell sick. Her illness became so severe that everyone, including Maggie, realized that she didn’t have much time left.
She asked John to go visit her grandmother in the hospice. He went to visit her and stayed for several hours.
During all that time, Maggie’s grandmother wouldn’t say a word to him. She didn’t even acknowledge his presence.
She died soon afterward.
At the funeral, Maggie met one of her aunts – one she hadn’t seen in a while.
“Maggie, your grandmother wanted me to give you a message about John!” her aunt said. “She said to tell you, ‘His eyes are beautiful.’ ”
Maggie took that to be her aunt’s blessing for their marriage.
When I first heard that story, my first reaction was Wow. What a testimony to the power of prayer – how God can overcome even the strongest cultural prejudices.