It’s 2:00, and today has been a busy day. I went to the Memphis Urban Summit this morning, and then left around 12:00 to go to watch PCA’s final rugby match. There are so many thoughts that are swirling inside my head right now, and I’ve been wanting to write about it all day long, so that is what I am doing.
Swirling Thought #1: Angel/Devil Thoughts
You know this – the angel and the devil on your shoulder saying opposite things to you. Well, I had one of those mornings this morning while getting dressed. I felt fat and ugly and I simply wanted to not go to the Urban Summit because what if I were to meet my husband there, and I looked ugly; I don’t want the first time my husband sees me for me to look fat and ugly. (Ladies, I am working on not having these thoughts anymore, but it takes time. Men, all women have thought this at one point in their life, so please don’t judge me; I won’t judge you for pretending that you’re samurai.) Anyways, because I felt ugly and fat and unsuitable for the public eye, I almost didn’t go to the Urban Summit. However, something squashed the devil voice long enough for me to get in the car and start driving. In four words: I”m glad I went.
Swirling Thought #2: Why I am glad that I went
It has been written. Memphis will be my home for the foreseeable future. It is easy to diss Memphis because Memphis has some problems. But it is even easier to celebrate Memphis because so much amazing growth is happening in this city. I heard from some great leaders in the city speak about justice, and I spent some extra time listening to one of our public defenders as he (and we) discussed criminal justice and the homeless and the mentally ill and our youth. I don’t know if anything was “accomplished” necessarily, but one thing was proven to me that needed to be proven: Fixing Memphis will be an act of God. God is doing that act. It made me grateful to be here, to be a part of a movement, to be involved in change.
In the break-out session, our keynote speaker, Stephen Bush (yes, his name is a link you should check out), said one thing that really got to me; there is a good chance it is random, and I will try to make this flow a little. He said, “In the city where we killed Dr. King, justice must mean more than punishment.” Incredible, right? It is so easy to think of justice in terms of punishment, but we rarely connect it to the concept of righteousness – what is right! We have to begin thinking about living out justice – living out what is right.
Swirling Thought #3: Marginalized
Justice makes me think of the marginalized – those who suffer injustice every single day. I think about the homeless man holding a sign on the corner. I think about the 5-year-old students in elementary schools around the city who do not know their alphabets yet. I think about single mothers and the mentally ill and generations and generations of poverty. I think about my own students, the ones who would have fallen through the cracks in a regular public school, and the ones who still fall through the cracks in my own classroom. I think about it, and I begin to feel overwhelmed and sad and helpless. And I guess that is how many of these people feel too – overwhelmed, sad, helpless. And if I didn’t know that Jesus had overcome death, then I would feel hopeless too. But that’s the thing – he did, and so I don’t get to be hopeless. I get to trust that God will use my overwhelmed, sad, helpless hands to restore justice to his world. Annnndddd that’s awesome.
Swirling Thought #4: And God is good (my rugby boys)
I saw God working today in a sweet, sweet, sweet moment after my boys (I should call them young men, but I still think of them as little middle schools, not almost-grown high schoolers) lost the last rugby match of the season. It was led by an incredible young men named Jahlyn (he’s going on a mission trip to Mexico this summer – click here to read and give him money). At the match, there was a huge, muddy puddle thing on the side of the field. Right after the game, the winning team all jumped into the puddle and were, you know, playing in the mud. A few moments later, as our team was walking off the field looking slightly defeated, Jahlyn looks at the team playing in the puddle, says, “Come on” to his teammates, and led the team into the jump-puddle-play time. It was sweet and showed incredible character. Jahlyn and the other guys could have chosen to be angry and bitter and negative; instead they chose to let it go, move on, and celebrate with each other. Maybe I’m too emotional, but I was majorly touched by this, and it reminded me that change is happening and that more change is coming.
God is real. God is here. God cares deeply about me and you, the marginalized and not marginalized. God is working in this city and cities all over this country and this world. His kingdom is being restored here on earth. It’s awesome and magical, and I’m grateful that he repossessed my heart and urged me to get involved.