When I was a little girl, I read the story of Brer Rabbit and the notorious story of the tar baby. The tar baby was a ploy by Mr Fox to entrap and ensnare Brer Rabbit and so that he could have him for his supper…
The tar baby was an image that looked like a person, but made out of black tar. When Brer Rabbit passed and said good morning to what he thought was a person (and the person didn’t respond), Brer Rabbit became angry and attacked the tar baby and became stuck to it. The story ends well for Brer Rabbit , (due to his sheer ingenuity). I use it here as I believe it has has profound historical and current secular and spiritual connotations.
My race of people ie black peoples have come through decades of oppression and where there has been much sensitivities about how we use and determine the color black and how we reframe positive and negative representations of same and ourselves. How we articulate our individual experience of oppression, has been elusive, as there is a tendency to put us all in one box and generalize (ie it happens to all and it is like this for all). Or worse, forcing each black people to conform to a general stereotype of what black should do and look like. This results in closing down and minimizing what it has meant to individuals on a personal basis, rather than the institutional.
It has taken years to develop my own self esteem and identity and in Christ. I am who I am. I am the loved of God, the healed of the Lord and the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus – none of my step will slide. He loves me just as I am, but he desires that I not be ensnared in sin. Because of this knowledge, I walk circumspect not as a fool, but as wise. I also declare regularly that no weapon formed against me shall prosper and say that those that rise up against me, shall be condemned. However, the tar baby has and continues to represent my experience of being denigrated, bullied and labeled as a black female and now even a Christian woman, leader, and in our times.
I come from a history (and a period) of being the only black girl in my class, the only black officer of the court, the only black manager, the only black female evangelist in our current cohort group – although let me say in the latter, I am accepted in love and have felt Father’s heart and a sense of belonging.
From an objects relation theory point of view, we need to see positive representations of ourselves in all walks of life, for us to have a good Id, sense of belonging, to enable growth and to develop well. I think I know what I am talking about when made to feel different, dumbed down, or not having positive representations of myself around me, to feed my self esteem.
I also understand how our race can carry the blame and shame for all societies ills and how we can also internalize it and perpetuate it against each other. I also understand the detriment not only for the victim, but also the victimizer. In the Brer Rabbit story, you will read that the fox ends up getting stuck to what he himself had created. There is detriment for us all if we dont take heed.
Today, I want to focus on the spiritual analogy of a tar baby and what it might mean for Christians. Brer Rabbit’s reaction to being ignored is a lesson of us from the get go, to grasp. The Bible says that offense will come but woe to the one who causes it(Matthew 18:7) Father tells us that we can be angry but not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). We need to be careful about our responses.
Yesterday whilst I was being taught on a subject in Misson 24 training and to do with the early Christians, I heard that the emperor Nero was an emperor who burned the Christians in vats of tar. Almost immediately, I had a revelation of the spirit behind this labeling and stigmatizing and which can occur for blacks and Christians, both in the Church and also in the workplace. Interestingly like Mr Fox, the emperor Nero made a rope for his own next (so to speak) and history records him as committing suicide.
Let me say, we don’t rejoice in our enemies downfall. Father would rather not the death of a sinner and we shouldn’t either. But we stand sure footed on the word of God, which says he will avenge us, in his own good time.
Thank God for Jesus, the Bible says that the rod of the wicked (the tar) will not rest upon the lot of the righteous, lest the righteous put forth their hand unto iniquity. Psalms 125:3. God will avenge us speedily and that right, early. Psalms 46:5
Don’t be a tar baby, be stuck up, or allow others to label or stick sleights or hurts on you. In your patience you will possess not only your soul, but your hide… Humble yourselves and rise above it. Put on the whole armor of God and make your stand.
For those of you feeling under attack, being poured out, or being labeled – those stuck in jobs, careers, ambitions or lost identities, don’t let the enemy reframe you, remodel you, dumb you down, out fox you, or have you for supper… As our leader Jonathan C said yesterday (and like Brer Rabbit did) walk in a place of surrender.
You give up your supper… Fast and Pray. Ask God to reaffirm who you are in Him. Ask him for divine strategies, for wisdom and understanding. I know it will be well with you.
Let me end with this scripture:
Come let us return unto the Lord for He has torn so that he may heal us. He has stricken so that he may bind us up. After 2 days, He will revive us and on the 3rd day, He will raise us up, that we may live before Him. Hosea 6:1-2
From my sick bed
One of Father’s daughters