Becca, the Peacemaker
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” Matthew 5: 8, 9
My youngest daughter, Becca, is 18 years old. She graduated this year from high school and this meant no prom, no graduation ceremony, no saying good bye to all of her friends and teachers, no closure in her senior year. She missed many events that are usually considered “rites of passage” for a person her age.
But losing these experiences does not define who Becca is or how she sees this world. Throughout this Covid 19 pandemic, she continued to work as an essential worker at the facility where her grandmother lives and even though Covid 19 was in the facility, Becca worked as a dietary aide, one of the few who kept working to deliver food to all the residents who lived there. She wore a face shield, mask and gloves and didn’t regard the mask as an infringement upon her rights and freedoms but as a way to protect the residents, herself, her co-workers and her parents. She willingly picked up extra shifts so that the work would continue unimpeded.
And Becca has been our family shopper since the epidemic began. Each week, she dons her mask and ventures to all the places we have needed her to go so that her father (who has diabetes) and I (who am in the “age risk” category) reduce our risk of exposure. We are so blessed.
But this is not why I write today. Today I want to share two stories that are but a small glimpse into the world and how Becca acts as peacemaker.
Last week Becca was pumping gas at a nearby gas station on County Road 10 in Mounds View, about 2 or 3 miles from our home. One of the staff was doing some outside work. It was hot, the beginning of the heat wave we’ve been experiencing and the uniform for the staff member included long pants and a button polo shirt. A middle aged white woman pulled up alongside to pump gas as well and she said to the young staff member, “I bet you’re hot.” “Yes” the worker nodded in agreement. “But I guess your people are used to being out in the sun…having been in the fields for generations.”
Becca’s eyes widened and as she reports her mouth dropped (although you couldn’t see it because of the mask she was wearing). And Becca said to the woman, “Excuse me, I think that was incredibly insensitive”. The woman gave her a look, finished pumping gas and drove off without another word.
The worker said, “Thank you” and the reply was “You’re welcome.” Then the young woman said, “You didn’t have to do that” and Becca replied again, “Oh, yes…I did”.
The second story was even more personal for Becca because she herself was the target. She was doing the family shopping at Aldi in Mounds View yesterday. She had her cart half filled with groceries from the list: vegetables, bread, cheese, baking needs and oh yes, one of the corner tables on special that week at Aldi. Her dad had asked her to look for them and if they were in stock, get two. So one was in the cart and she had the second one in her hands when, once again, a white middle aged woman came around the corner and said to her, “I need that”, pointing to the box in Becca’s arms. “There’s another one on the shelf for you” she tried.
“But I need two”.
“I’m sorry but I have this one. There is one for you on the shelf”.
And then as Becca later told us, the woman began to berate Becca, telling her she was young, probably only shopping for candy and fast food and on and on it went.
Becca told us, “I was so shocked I didn’t even know what to say. After it went on for a bit and no one was around to witness this, I told the woman, you can have this table, even though you are not entitled to it. I’m not going to absorb any more negativity from you. Have a nice day”. And the box went back on the shelf.
Some would say that the woman got away with her bullying, that she didn’t learn a thing, that she couldn’t be shamed by Becca’s words. Some might say Becca should have gotten the store manager to intervene. Some might say that Becca backed down.
But I say that Becca is pure in heart, a peacemaker. Becca named the woman’s poor behavior and called her out. She stated what she would and wouldn’t accept from the woman (no more negativity). And then Becca chose to bless the woman by wishing her a good day as she walked away.
Some might ask why do I keep mentioning that the two women in these stories were white? They were mean spirited but why bring in race? The young staff member was a person of color-that’s why the woman said what she said. And Becca? Well, for those of you who don’t know, Becca is Vietnamese, adopted as an infant. I think the woman who confronted my daughter in the store saw teenager, mask, and Asian eyes…that’s all it took for the woman to decide that Becca did not deserve to purchase an item that the woman wanted for her own. So she simply demanded it from her. Race and white privilege permeates these stories.
As Becca told her father and me these experiences, I find that I am so grateful for Becca’s spirit of generosity, kindness, compassion, purity and peacemaking. I am in awe of the way she has matured and is finding her voice; that she speaks up and out; that she names that which is privilege; and that she protects those who are vulnerable. I am grateful that she has decided to be a peacemaker and that she is living into her calling as a child of God, helping to bring in the Kingdom of God.
As we, her parents, prepare to send Becca off to college, we are aware more than ever that it is a harsh, cold, and privileged world right now, made even more divisive by the politics of the day: oppressive, racist, unequal, filled with intentional fear mongering by those in power. We send her out with no small amount of trepidation, knowing that we cannot fight her battles for her; we cannot protect her all the time. But we can and will continue to support her efforts, stand with her as she names injustice and pray unceasingly for her.
Go out into this world, Becca. You are ready. You are making a difference. God goes with you.