I’ve been sitting at my computer staring at its blank page for about 15 minutes now. Words seem to elude me as to how to begin this and really how to articulate much of anything at all. But my heart’s been moved, so I am going to try. To put it mildly, last week was ROUGH. Between the shooting on Skid Row, the passing of one of my residents and the heartache of some stuff going on outside of work, I wondered if I was eventually going to get to a point where my tear ducts just up and stopped working altogether out of rebellion. (Doctors, is this possible? Please advise.) To make matters more complicated, I was slated to fly up to Washington State to participate in and speak at the Washington State Leadership Forum. For those of you that know me, you know that two things can make me an anxious wreck faster than just about anything else; public speaking and walking into a crowded room where I know nobody (how I ended up in a position where I am forced to do both fairly regularly is still a lost on me), so to say I was hesitant would be a huge understatement.
As I got into Seattle and was waiting for my ride I received more bad news and just sat down and cried; I was 100% certain this weekend was going to be a mess- I was going to be a mess. I couldn’t help but feel a longing for my people- my home team; the ones who know me and get me…or maybe don’t, but at least humor me a bunch. I realized that it wasn’t so much that I felt like Skid Row needed me to heal from recent heartbreaks, as much as I needed them to cope with my own. I was fairly certain I was making a rather large mistake in being where I was at.
But as it turns out though, evvvvery now and then I am wrong…don’t get used to this, ok?
On the docket to speak throughout the weekend were an incredible line up; the governor of Washington, several legislatures, the head E.R. doctor at the local county hospital, U.N. Ambassador and right-hand man to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ANDREW YOUNG*…oh and me. [What? No. This must have been a mistake, we should not be addressing the same crowd- oh we are? Okay great, I will just start panicking now, thank you.] I was reminded over and over by these community leaders that true change takes time and courage- BUT THAT IT CAN BE DONE. I was moved by accounts of peaceful protests and heart-changing metaphors. I was taken in by folks who up until walking in those doors didn’t know I existed.
*Want to see my freak out like a tween at a TSwift concert? Place me in front of a Dodger and/or one of our country’s greatest heroes in the fight for justice and racial equality.
But you know what my favorite part was? From all over Washington came college students desiring to live lives that will change the world- and I got to hear from them. You guys, the generation rising up- they are doing BIG things. They are dreamers and believers and want to make beauty in the ash. I can’t tell you how honored and encouraged I was to field questions and hear stories of the hearts within so many of these students. Holy heck, our future looks bright.
This weekend my heart was handed rest over and over again and for what felt like the first time in days, I breathed. It reminded me that sometimes my biggest job is showing up and following through, even when it’s uncomfortable. It reminded me that God can do big things with our metaphorical loaves and fishes- even when we fear they are rotten and stale. It reminded me that I am not alone in this fight for peace. It also reminded me how important it is to get away, regroup, reevaluate and let yourself be loved as you love. We weren’t made to do this alone, y’all- thank God we don’t have to.