I’ve learned many lessons in life; some I had to learn at a very young age. I remember one day, I went over to my friend’s house to ask him if he wanted to play football with the rest of us. I considered this a kind gesture for an eleven-year-old, since he wasn’t a very good football player. When I knocked on the door, which was quite common back in the 70s, he answered with excitement, believing this was an opportunity to get out of the house and be around people his own age. I overheard him ask his father if he could go play with Timmy Storey. His father asked him, “Is that the (n-word) from down the street?” My friend looked like he had seen a ghost, and then he answered, “Yes.” “Don’t let him in the house,” his father stated. I smiled and told my friend it was okay and not to worry about what his dad said.
As a child, we had moved from a neighborhood in the heart of Los Angeles that was racially diverse to a smaller suburb on the eastside of Los Angeles. My parents had relocated to a neighborhood where I was the only afro-wearing, Soul Train watching kid around. My friend’s father’s reaction to me was not the first go around. Even when I was younger, I had on many occasions felt belittled and minimized because of the color of my skin.
The truth of the matter was, I usually felt compassion and even a sense of empathy for those that stopped me at the door because of their prejudice. My outlook was not completely because of good parenting or reading the right books, but rather I had a healthy self-esteem, and had an understanding of what God thought of me. I had been going to Sunday school since the age of four, and I really bought into the idea that God thought I was great and wonderful. I was told this on a regular basis, and I began to believe it. Even as a child, I began to understand the power of surrounding yourself with people who will lift you up, so when you’re faced with those who try to tear you down, you know you’re not alone. Sure, certain words and actions of people like my friend’s father have hurt my feelings from time to time, but overall, I am really convinced that God’s opinion of me makes man’s opinion of me irrelevant.
“Now when faced with similar situations, I consider the source. I continue to love, even when it’s not returned. I realize a closed door from one person will open up many other doors that no man can close.”-Tim Storey
Check out more about Tim Storey here
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