Today marks the 29th Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Many people spent the day at home, enjoying a day off. Many others though participated the in National Day of Service. This is the first year that I didn’t just stay at home. Being part of a leadership club at school, I spent the day serving the community alongside my peers. While sleeping in would been nice, I think it’s really cool that I got the opportunity to serve others. We worked in a huge cave that is used as a storage unit and my team sorted out Christmas lights. The copper from them will be used to pay the rent of the homes that the charity owns to house the homeless. It was really cool to spend the time team building with some really awesome people.
I spent a lot of time thinking about what I was going to write today. I wondered if I should just pick a topic off the list I have already, or do something to talk this day. So, I went to the place where I get many a question answered: Google. I started looking for information about Dr. King, and I found some facts that I had never known before, like:
- George Washington is the only other American to have had his birthday observed as a national holiday.
- King entered college at the age of 15 after skipping 9th and 12th
- Today over 700 streets in the Unites States are named after Martin Luther King Jr., with one such street in almost every major city.
- King is to date the youngest male to win a Nobel Peace Prize, winning it in 1964 at the age of 35.
I remember as a kid learning about Dr. King in school. We would do word searches, watch movies, read books and get homework. But then the week would pass, and we would move on to other things. Yes, I knew that he was a great man. Yes, I knew that he led the fight towards equality. Yes, I knew that he caused people to think. But I didn’t really stop to think until now.
I found a website that had a list of quotes from some of his speeches, these few really stuck out to me:
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
To be completely candid, I am in a constant battle with myself. The teenage years are rough. (From what I’ve heard, the adult years aren’t easy either.) I’ve made mistakes and said things that I regret. I struggle with the fact that I want people to like me and I constantly want to please people. I sometimes feel as though I am a bother to those around me.
But over this weekend, I had a revelation that I’ve been needing to have for a while now: I am who I am, and I can’t change. Granted, I will always be going through stages of being refined and constantly learning new lessons, but I am stuck with the fact that I am Abby. And that a great thing.
It is my life’s mission to love others. I am, as one friend called me, a “Jesus Freak”, or as my bible says, a Child of God. As a Child of God, I am not asked, but I am commanded to serve and love others. Dr. King knew this too. He knew that his life was constantly in danger. “I’ve Been To The Mountain Top”, his last speech, was given the night before his assassination. It was almost as if he knew he was going to die the next day. Go read it. It’s very inspiring. But even though he knew that he was in constant danger, Martin still actively spoke out against segregation and called everyone out for tearing each other down.
Many Christians today are living comfortably. Loving some people is hard. It can be risky. You could get your reputation tarnished. In some places, there’s a chance you could get hurt. Being zealous like the early Christians is a taboo in our culture, so we just coast through life. We love people that are easy to love. We serve when it’s convenient. We zone out in church and don’t apply the teaching we hear when we walk out the doors.
I’m done coasting. I want to soar.
Dr. King didn’t live to see the change that happened in our country. While I don’t plan to start a national movement to change horrible laws, I want to make a difference. Whether it’s serving others full heartedly, loving people (even if they’ve hurt me), or just learning to love the person that God made me to be, I was to make changes happen that matter. If Martin could keep up his fight after being threatened, scoffed at, and arrested 29 times, I can work to make a difference in the lives of those around me.
Until Next Time,
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!