in the name of love.

I haven’t seen Selma yet (although I fully plan to), but I have read this interview with its lead actor, David Oyelowo, and he says this in response to the question “Why should American Christians see this movie?”:

Because you see someone who doesn’t just talk about their faith; you see someone who walks it out, with sacrifical love. The Bible says, Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.

That is not only what Dr. King did ultimately (in being assassinated); it’s what he did for those 13 years that he led the civil rights movement. Every day he sacrificed seeing his kids. He had to endure death threats. He had to endure ill health. He often went into the hospital for exhaustion, because he was constantly putting himself on the line for others. That’s what the Bible tells us to do.

It’s very easy to hold someone like Dr. King out at arms’ length, make him into an untouchable icon instead of a flawed, sinful, regular guy who got thrust into a particular time and place in history. (I’m not the only one thinking about this; I’ve seen similar sentiments all over Twitter today.) But that’s what he was, which is a comforting thought–if a normal, flawed guy can make a difference, that means I can, too. But it’s also convicting–if a normal, flawed guy can be called to that kind of difficulty and sacrifice, that means I can, too.

* * *
I just started work in a public library branch in what used to be the largest unincorporated African-American community in the South, what’s now a largeish neighborhood in northwest Houston. It’s unfortunately known for its high crime rates, something I was warned about repeatedly when I let people know I was going to work there.

I drive past a sign every day marking a street that’s called Ferguson, and wonder if that name feels weightier now in light of the events of last summer and fall. Likely not. But it reminds me.

And I’ve always been keenly aware of race, as a daughter of both the Korean forests and hills and of the American South and Midwest. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been aware of the history of minorities in this country. But now I find myself working with and for a neighborhood I’m not familiar with, and I occasionally catch myself thinking horrifying things.

This is now the opportunity for me to put into practice all the things I said during Ferguson–I am there to serve and not be served, to listen and to learn and to love my neighbor as myself, but also just to do my job well and treat people as people instead of obstacles, business as usual. Race, so far, hasn’t really been a big deal, but I still look around and think, let justice roll like a river here, too.

I’m just one woman. And I’m not a prophetess, nor the daughter of a prophetess, but if all my thoughts on the gospel and race and culture aren’t relevant in Acres Homes, I don’t know what use they are.

but by the mercy of our God, all of our hopes begin.

1. I think I’ve spent the majority of my twenties finally downloading the understanding that other people don’t think like I do, which is why I can’t think of other people as stupid or slow or weird or frustrating just because their thought processes are different from mine. You’d think I’d have gotten this before now, but I am, as it turns out, an intelligence idolater, amongst other things.

2. Oh, yes, happy 2015. Goals for this year: Submit something for publication or presentation(!), read at least half of the books on my to-be-read shelf, fit back in my prom dress and wear it somewhere. One of these days I need to sit down and write out a whole lot of things like short- and long-term goals, and plans to get there, but I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants so far this year and I haven’t made time…not the most auspicious start to the year, but I’m going to make it happen. A few weeks ago, my pastor preached on how true repentance leads to concrete, real-time action–we can’t just talk about the stuff, we have to dosomething about it. So this is the year of my doing the stuff, I guess.

3. What I have to guard my heart against, though, is doing the stuff for the sake of doing it instead of doing it for the glory of God and for the edification of others. One of the best books I read last year, Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next, made the significant point that true productivity is finding ways to do the most good for others for the sake of God’s kingdom, and I want to be better about that, and to do it in God’s strength and grace and not my own.

4. I turn thirty in four days. I feel still like so much of my life is ahead of me, like I’m still trying to figure out who I am. I think I had a lot of baggage to get over before I could even think about who I am and where I’m going, but it’s not like God didn’t know that. Here’s to my thirties being great.

5. Oh, yes, one more goal: Write a blog post at least once a week, to be published on Saturdays. Watch this space.