One of my mentors shared this quote with me very early in my career. At the time, I found it to be an impossible statement. There were too many politics, barriers, naysayers, and I chose to focus on all the obstacles instead of all the opportunity.
Yesterday, I was listening to Andre Norman’s story from juvie to jail to Harvard. What seemed like an impossible story, came to life because of his ability to reorient his mind and do small things that took him on an 8 year journey to who he wanted to be. So much of his story and his perspective touched my heart, but this line in particular, “I had to change myself to fit the world I wanted to live in.”
A courageous and selfless perspective that took hard work and determination. He took full responsibility for everything he faced, whether he was to blame or not. Andre was born into a situation where grew up in a rough neighborhood with a single mother who struggled to make ends meet, but he didn’t let his past define his future. A lesson all of us could take to heart.
Although Andre faced extreme hardship, the path to this new life was as simple as a mindset change. He chose honesty, kindness, and hope. Reflecting on his transformation, he said his anchor and inspiration to change were the kind words his teachers and others said to him when he was younger. “You are a good person. You have a good heart. You can be somebody.” He said kind words were his shield against negativity.
We need kind words…hope and love. We also need redemption. Redemption requires honesty. Honesty with yourself and with others. Face your demons. Admit your suffering. We all need to face ourselves with the support and grace of at least one other person to call in our time of need. It can be God or a human or both. In our weakness they can help us move forward. We need to face our pain before we can realize our potential.
If it’s to be, it’s up to me. Give yourself love, hope and redemption. Go out and be where love, hope, and redemption are needed. No need to look far. There are situations every hour right in front of us where grace can be applied. Where a little love and truth can make a difference.
In reading the book “Joining Jesus on His Mission: How to Be an Everyday Missionary” the advice on how to take action is as simple as this: Wake up and prepare for your day as usual. Take some time to reorient your mind around the good news that the kingdom will be on the move around you today. As we walk out our front door and into the new day, we can have two simple questions on our mind: “Jesus, what are you up to today?” And then, “How would you have me join you?”