I heard a woman from Kenya describe her upbringing in truly terrible conditions. She had endured horror after horror: hunger, rape, kidnapping, prostitution and barely escaped being trafficked. But nothing in her voice or body language suggested anger at everything she had experienced or despair over the environment she grew up in. In fact, the joy she felt at having earned a degree and finding her way to Chicago emanated from her being.
It was a powerful reminder that we are not our circumstances, we are not what we’ve been through, and we don’t have to let our experiences define us.
“Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Joshua 1:9, MSG
“A passive hope is not effective.” ~ Deepak Chopra.
I heard this and I had to think about it…isn’t hope by its definition passive? So I actually looked up the word and what I realized is that having hope is not just wanting something to happen…having hope is expecting something to happen.
In fact, hope is a lot like faith…
“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” James 2: 14-17 MSG
Martyr: a person who is killed or who suffers greatly for a religion, cause, etc.
American is a great idea, an idea executed under false pretenses, an idea maintained for some through the oppression of others. Americans who believe in the idea and who have tried to help America live up to its ideals have often been called to sacrifice their lives, even to the point of death. These martyrs are no less patriotic than those who don a uniform…
“People must have the desire to get out there, to push and pull, and to never give up, to never get lost in a sea of despair, but to keep the faith.” ~ Congressman John Lewis
Our purpose is sometimes revealed in unexpected, sometimes sad, even violent ways … like when we experience something personally or something happens to someone close to us and we feel compelled to act. Candy Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving after a drunk driver, who had a history of arrests for intoxication, hit and killed her daughter.
Whose life will be saved by the protection your passion puts into place?
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
This weekend another young black male died violently, this time on a college campus, allegedly stabbed by a white male member of a hate group. This newly commissioned Army officer, on the precipice of a “limitless life” had sworn to “support and defend the Constitution” of his country…this America where he is hated and hunted because of the color of his skin.
And I grieve for what has been lost, for his family, his classmates and his fellow Americans who understand that America is great because of people like Richard W. Collins III.
“As a United States Army Officer who gladly puts his life on the line everyday…there’s no greater conflict within me. How do I feel about my country? And how does my country…feel about me? Are we only to be Americans when the mood suits you?”
Lawrence Fishborne as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin O. Davis in the movie, Tuskegee Airman