Reflections of the Life We Live on MLK Day

Do you think MLK Jr. would want everyone having his birthday, a day set apart to remember his work throughout his life, off? Here is a man who completely gave his life tirelessly to serve others and fight for racial justice and equality for all and we celebrate by not working. Most of us who do get off on this day spend it sleeping in, shopping or meeting up with friends for coffee.

Twenty years after Dr. King’s assassination, they observed the third Monday in January to celebrate his birth and commemorate his works. This year the 3rd Monday actually falls on his birthday, January 15, 1929. It wasn’t until the year 2000, that all U.S. states observed this day as a federal holiday. This undoubtedly shows how slow we are to progress and make the changes needed as a nation to promote equality for all. We are often slow to progress ourselves with positive change as well.

Most of us are familiar with Dr. King’s, “I have a Dream” speech or many other famous speeches or acts he led or supported including the March on Washington, The Freedom Riders and the Freedom Walk in Detroit, etc. When reflecting on Dr. King’s life today based on the articles I’ve read, movies and shows I’ve seen about him and my current work, I began to apply his works to my own life. In doing so, I came up with a few take-a-ways.

What can we learn from Dr. King & the other activist of the Civil Right’s Movement?
Since the Civil Rights Movement, there’s been many improvements in the U.S. when it comes to racial justice and equality for all, but there’s also been other injustices rise from the ashes and a societal norm to be more self consumed than ever. In an age where we base everything on how we feel, we can learn from the men & women who put their feelings aside and acted for what’s right and wrong even though they felt tired, hurt and hated. They were physically harassed, mentally belittled and taunted and I’m sure, just wanted to go home to their families and loved ones and live a “normal” happy life with equal treatment.

3 Take-A-Ways:

  1. When You serve others, You forget about Your own problems
    It is true that when we serve others, it does more for us than it does for them. This shouldn’t always be our drive to serve because it’s good to go in with a servant’s heart, but God knows we’re human. I’ve always loved to serve but with 5 kids, often didn’t have time to do so in a big way. We would serve on occasion through our church or a local nonprofit. What I would do, especially at times when I started feeling sorry for myself, was find a small way to give. These small giving’s brought me some of the greatest joy because they were normally personable. I would post on FB and see if anyone needed food or a few extra dollars. I’ve given to pantries, provided clothes for people, etc. I never boasted or posted about me doing this, it wasn’t about me being seen, it truly was about me helping someone else. This helped me realize that we all go through tough times and if we all just help one another, we all would be better off. Even when we’re not able, we should give what we have if we see a need. I think about Even with tithing, I’ve given when I really didn’t have leftover money to give, but I believed God would see me through. I didn’t have much money when I’d post on FB but I gave what I had. I can remember cooking dinner for my family and making more to give to a family that I knew was eating Roman Noodles everyday. It wasn’t anything fancy, it would be a beef stew or something that went far but it warmed my heart to do it.

How can You serve others today?

  • Pray/Meditate – be specific & you’ll have something placed on your heart, follow it
  • R&D – Research different resources that align with what you’re wanting to do
  • Social media
  • Churches
  • Non profits
  • City Pages
  • Food Banks
  • Shelters
  • Schools
  • Pay Attention – When you’re out and about, pay attention to what’s going on around you. Most likely there are needs all around us all the time.
  • Help an elderly person with their groceries
  • Smile and make conversations with people
  • Be kind even when people are being nasty
  • Let that car in who’s trying to merge
  • Pay for someone’s coffee or food behind you
  • Shovel/salt someone’s walkway for free
  • Put money in all the slots at the laundry mat
  • Nothing is too small!

When we serve, our hearts grow bigger and happier. We gain perspective in our own lives and start to appreciate what we do have and stop focusing on what we don’t. We also tend to feel a sense of accomplishment which boosts endorphins and confidence.

2. It’s dangerous to let our feelings guide us

We live in a society driven by our emotions and how we feel. We went from a nation driven by transaction, business and survival to the other extreme of a nation driven by feelings. They both are no way to live and my hope is that one day our nation can find the balance needed. The only way we’ll ever find this balance is if we turn back to God. God talks about not letting our feelings drive us. He knows how dangerous this is and how it only leads us to a life dwelling in sadness, anger and non-movement. Has someone hurt you or is still hurting you? Do you have a traumatic past you can’t quite get over? Do you find yourself dwelling in these thoughts and emotions? You can’t quite move forward?

what happens when we’re guided by our emotions:

  • We stay in a state of sadness or anger
  • We do not think clearly, therefore are not of sound mind to make good decisions
  • We become stagnant
    When we’re only focused on our pain, it can lead us to addictions & depression and other costly behavior

What God intends for us to do:

  • Seek Him
  • Know that if we live by His guidance & way, we can rest assured all things are done for good
  • We can be of a sound mind and make good decisions guided by the Holy Spirit
  • Intentionally grow
  • Avoid things like depression & addictions

God knows we are human so undoubtedly we will be sad and angry sometimes. He just doesn’t want us to dwell here. He wants us, in our weakness, to rely on Him and He will make us whole and great in all things. This means we can relax! I know it’s easier said than done but when we find ourselves aching, in addiction or depression, it’s a direct result from being separate from God. We’re letting our flesh lead us instead of God. In Phil 4:6-7 God tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

3. Only focus on what we can control

One of the toughest times of my life happened this past November. I can remember waking up Thanksgiving morning to one of the worst news a mother could hear. All I wanted to do was lay in bed and cry. Somehow, through God’s strength, I got up showered and dressed and went with my family that was there that day to serve food and talk with the homeless. It didn’t make me forget my pain, but it did bring me joy and help put things into perspective for me. I can only do what I can control. Sometimes, you have to let go and let God and just do what you can. I trust and still trust God knows what He’s doing and the only thing I can do is completely align with Him to ensure I’m doing the next right thing. A lot of the next right thing is continuing on when we don’t feel like it. When have you been at your breaking point? Did you trust in God or spiral downhill? I’ve done both but am learning it’s much better to trust in Him. It’s important to focus on what we can control and give Him the rest. God wants peace for you. Give all your burdens to Him and see how light and powerful you feel through Him.

What we can control:

  • How we respond to people or situations
  • Happiness – it’s an intentional choice
  • Working moment by moment, day by day as to not get overwhelmed
  • Connect with God & follow his lead constantly
  1. Pray
  2. Read
  3. Be in his presence
  4. Worship

I’m thankful for the example Dr. King and all the activists at the time taught us. Without their pain, persistence and leaning on God, I would not be doing many of the things I do today. Even the simplest act of taking a sip of water at a public fountain or walking confidently into an interview or even swimming at some of the greatest spots around. I am humbled by their acts and choose to remember. It encourages me to be appreciative daily and seek out areas I can serve in any capacity. My hope is that this national holiday we can all take serious and find a way to serve another. It’s more than just racial injustices, it’s providing the same opportunities across the board for everyone no matter your color, economic status or anything else that can set us a part. It’s about being kind and living a life of servitude towards others even with what we think are small gestures. Let’s mark this day as a true reminder and not just have a day off. Happy MLK Day to you all. God Bless!


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