• shelisloterbeek

How Did I Get Here?

I've been thinking a lot about how I was (am still being) formed to the person I am today. How did I get to this exact moment. And the other day I couldn't get the thought of the Black Nazarene Jesus out of my head. So I went digging through the archives to find this not-as-great-as-I-remembered-it photo. It's from the Church of the Black Nazarene in Manila, Philippines. (taken inside with b&w film 20 years ago.) This was the first time I'd ever seen Jesus as Black.


I probably just thought this crucifix was interesting - my childhood didn't see a lot of crucifixes. I also hadn't seen a lot of the world yet, but these small moments were opening me to the journey ahead. To knowing and loving God in new ways, in new places.


On this same trip - a week or two before - I sat on a wooden step at the edge of the jungle and understood for the first time what it meant that humans were created in the image of God. Each of the beautiful Philippino individuals who I met in the remote jungle were also made in the image of God.

I took this photo (I had an infatuation with black and white film) that same morning and I remember it clearly because it was something I wanted to set in myself, to concrete into who I was and what I knew of God.



I wasn't always as reflective as I am now. Things I learned and that formed me didn't feel weighty like they do now. And yet, I was still being formed. Still being formed. Those two moments were significant. One I understood right away. The other, the Black Nazarene, I'm just now understanding the impact that had on me 20 years later. Why I care so deeply about understanding the real Jesus, not the white evangelical flannelgraph Jesus. It's why I look at theology written by Black, Asian, Native American, South American, African theologians. This experience set the path on how I've come to love those who come as refugees and asylees. It's one of the paradigm shifts of my life and I'm ever so grateful.


Reflect. Remember. Set an altar of remembrance. Return.


How did you get to where you are today? Are there specific times that were immediate apparent that formed you or directed your path? To specific things that you care about deeply? Are there things you can look back on and see now that weren't as visible then that have guided you to here?


Thanks be to God for the path, the knowing, and the unknowing mystery that abounds.

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