I just finished the newest episode of one of my favorite shows, Blackish. I love the whiskey drinking, truth-telling Grandfather, and he’s taking the time to explain to his grandson, Andre Jr., the full context of Martin Luther King’s famous, “I have a Dream” speech. Andre is preparing to give a speech on peace at his school, as Student Body President, and through his conversations with Pops, realizes there’s more to history than he’s ever been taught in school. He gets so focused on the fight against injustice, that as he sits with his Pops one last time before the speech, his grandfather reminds him of this:
“The people need to hear that we should be fighting, but they also needed to hear what we should be fighting for: the dream. Martin knew that. You need to know that, and you especially need to know it, with where we are right now.”
The dream is as important as the fight. We can lose ourselves – our joy, our ability to persevere, our perspective, our reason and even intimacy in relationships – if we make the fight our primary pursuit. It’s easy to get on the grind, building and moving the needle forward, and forget why you started in the first place. This is true whatever your dream is. Maybe your dream is freedom and you’re grinding in recovery, but it’s difficult, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever truly be free. Maybe your dream is to have a healthy marriage and family that lasts a lifetime, but you want to kill your husband and your kids, and are having doubts about forever. Maybe you want to finish or go back to school, but the obstacles feel overwhelming. Maybe you’re fighting injustice, but you’ve grown weary, and the systemic cycles and layers of pain seem insurmountable. Perhaps you’re building a ministry or a business, but challenges with people are overpowering your dream, and you just want to give up.
Or maybe you’re contending for a few things, and sometimes doing it all feels like doing too much.
I feel you friend. I want to be healthy and whole, inside and out, to continue growing in and fighting for freedom for myself and others. I also want our marriage to thrive, to be more in love with every year we share. I want to be one of those patient, intentional moms, who makes her own baby food. For the record, unless you count heating up a sweet potato or cutting up an avocado, I haven’t made jack crap, except for budget problems when we buy a few too many $2.00 organic squeezers. My son also watched so much Paw Patrol and Fireman Sam yesterday, that he was literally having conversations with the characters before bedtime. I also yelled at him (a few times) because he wouldn’t stop climbing the bookcase, his high chair, every piece of furniture in the house, oh, and my face. This morning he ate some essential oil when we turned our head for 30 seconds. So, yeah, I am obviously winning at parenting. We’re also fighting to build our family, community and ministry in a urban city, and this is no small feat. The cost of living is significantly higher, and urban living comes with 99 problems you didn’t want, or even know about. On the other hand, we love the culture, diversity, the arts and the fact that anything we want or need, is a walk or subway ride away. (This wonderful article by Kathy Keller encouraged me about raising kids in NYC.)
And I have dreams for the church, for it to be a place where Jesus is glorified, where people walk in the doors of our community and feel at home, like they can be themselves, no pretending or performing necessary. I want to see the Spirit of God so thick and beautiful that His presence is tangible and transformative. I want to always remember the ground is level at the foot of the cross, and if we have been entrusted to lead, we have been authorized to serve. I want to see the family of God live out the gospel outside of the church, opening our arms, our capacity, our resources to others in our community, our workplaces, our schools, that the love of Christ would spill out into the streets like a river of hope, like waters of life.
And I’m contending for prison reform, for the end of the era of mass incarceration in my generation. The complexities of this issue require that we examine everything from education to healthcare to why your zip code often determines your destiny. This is true for human trafficking as well, another issue we are passionate about ending. Vulnerable young girls, who grow up into adult women in the business need our love, not our judgment, and the church must continue to address the consumer side of the issue, given that the stats in and out of the church, for males and females are nearly identical. Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” This is not easy, but it must be done. If we don’t fight for ourselves, for our families, our communities, our churches, for justice, who will?
This Dance Mom is picking up what I’m laying down.
We’ve got to hold on to hope as we fight for our dreams, hope that change is possible, hope for a dream fulfilled. Martin Luther King, Jr., who we celebrate today, said this: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
What dreams are you fighting for? What difficulties are you facing? Lift your eyes from the fight, and remember your dream, remember why you started. Hold on to hope. You’ve come too far to give up now.
“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” J.K.Rowling