Y’all, I know you’ve read the news. And, by now if you read this blog much, you’ve probably guessed that I went to Ole Miss, that my family went to Ole Miss, that my grandmother was Miss Ole Miss. (She still is, by the way. Ask anyone who knows her.)
So, when Ole Miss makes the news because of the vandalism of a statue of James Meredith, it makes me think. Long and hard.
Because I love Ole Miss. And, I love Mississippi.
But, more importantly, I want to love Christ and the things he loves. And, y’all, he loves people. I mean, he LOVES people. And, he longs to see their wounds healed. He died to see their wounds healed.
And, Mississippi? Well, we have our fair share of wounds that need healing, don’t we?
Growing up here, I didn’t always realize it. I would be lying if I said I did. I lived in a bubble full of people just like me. In my church, in my school, everywhere.
In fact, as I was being interviewed as a prospective missionary after college, I was asked a question that had never even occurred to me:
“I see you’re looking at positions in Africa. Being from Mississippi, how do you think you will handle being in a place where YOU are the minority?”
The only thing I could think to say was something I was told as a child. By one of the only African American people I knew.
She was our babysitter, and I was her baby. She loved me, and I knew it. And, that’s saying a lot because I think I was born with a tendency to think people didn’t. Ask my mom…she’ll tell you. But Mae?
She was the person I ran to when I skinned my knee, when the neighbors weren’t nice, when anything was wrong in my world.
I took her the questions that burned in my little brain. I asked her anything.
And, I mean anything.
So, one day, as I sat in her lap, holding her hands, I noticed something. Her skin was dark on the outside, but it was light in her palm. I asked her why.
And, she told me something I will never forget.
“God made me that way so we always remember we might look different on the outside, but…”
And she opened her palm and said,
“On the inside, we’re all the same.”
I might have been five years old, but I remember that moment like it was yesterday.
It shaped the way I viewed people, the way I saw the world. The way I still do.
And Mae’s simple words echo a truth spoken many long centuries before.
Y’all, in Christ, we’re all the same. He loves us all the same. And, if we’re his people, he expects us to love the way he does.
I won’t pretend to know the answer to all of the questions about healing race relations in our state, but I do believe this: “Love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.”
I can’t make history right. But I can do right. Today.
Today, I can love.
Today, I can see people the way Christ does.
All in need of him.
All as precious treasures for which he gave his life.
He knows the pain our past has caused.
He is scarred by it, is he not?
He knows the pain of hatred. He carried it to the cross.
And, he defeated it there.
He can defeat it here, too. The same way. By the laying down of lives in love. And, by forgiveness.
I can’t change what any crazy college kid may do in days to come. I imagine there will always be someone ready to defame, deface and destroy. Because there will always be a deceiver to lead them to it.
But, I can choose how I will live. And, I can teach my children how they should live. And there is only one way: