Saturday, May 29, 2010

S'bayt Khmaow!

There are some things in life that simply leave me baffled. One of these things in perspectives on skin. Living in a tropical climate has left me a bronze color that I previously did not know was possible. The sun is quite intense here, but I rarely wear sunscreen because I am not usually outside for long periods of time. However, ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there has left me with really dark. The interesting thing is that in Cambodia the people desperately want white skin. It is quite a feat to find any kind of lotion, make up, or moisturizer here that does not have some kind of whitening agent in it. White is beautiful. The Khmer people are quite varied in their skin tones as they have lots of influence from other ethnicities in their history. Some of them are really dark while some of them are quite light-skinned. And, undoubtedly, the light-skinned Khmer are deemed more beautiful regardless of any other quality. As my skin has bronzed, I have begun to get disapproving looks from my Khmer friends and those I work with. They frown and say "s'bayt khmaow!" which means "black skin." Then, they ask if I like my skin this color and they shake their heads when I answer "yes!" I like my bronze skin. They have also taken to regularly comparing my skin tone with their own. I am now actually as dark or darker than many of them, which they think is quite funny.
Isn't it quite reflective of life that we consistently want what we don't have? Those of us who have pasty white skin desperately want to look bronzed (minus the sunspots and wrinkles) while those who have beautifully dark skin tones lather themselves with whitening creams. We want to be thinner, smarter, more athletic, more musically inclined, wealthier...the list goes on and on. Rarely are we satisfied with the way God created us, with the talents and gifts He apportioned to us. We find it much easier to focus on that which we don't have, rather than rejoicing in the gifts and beauty He has placed inside of us. I have come to learn that people are most beautiful when they are walking alongside Christ and operating in the gifts He has given them. When this is the case, people simply glow! Their joy is both evident and contagious! I want to be like this. I want to reflect Christ in all I do. I want His joy to radiate from me. I don't want my glow to come from my bronzed skin but rather from my reflection of the Son. I want to rejoice in the person He has created me to be and excel in the gifts He has given me, not so that I will be noticed but so that God may be glorified. He truly is a creative artist. As I pause to truly look at the world around me, I am consistently amazed by His amazing creativity and attention to every detail. I challenge you to take the time today to pause and reflect on the amazing creation around you!

we're colored people, and we live in a tainted place
we're colored people, and they call us the human race
we've got a history so full of mistakes
and we are colored people who depend on holy grace
~ dcTalk, "Colored People"

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