I don’t remember much about my grandmother personally, but I heard a lot about her. Dorothy Mae could cook her butt off. She could bring the church house down with her singing.
And when it came to civil rights and equality, in Greenville, MS, Dorothy Mae was a trailblazer.
My grandmother was a “Stand Up For Your Rights” marcher, “You Will Not Silence Us” crooner, “If You Arrest Me You’re Going to Have to Release Me and When You Do, I’ll Be Right Back Because I Refuse To Stop” type of woman.
Dorothy Mae didn’t play.
Sometimes I wonder how much of her free spirit, vivacious personality, and sweetness got passed down to me. Honestly, I can’t sing worth a lick, but I think I still managed to get some of my grandmother’s winning traits.
I believe I inherited one particular trait from her: I wanted to seek fairness and justice in all situations.
Last week I crossed paths with a person in authority. This person had sworn to protect the community and its people. This same person ended up breaking that vow to serve and protect.
I can still recall the moment I wondered if the outcome of our crossing paths would end badly. And I’m not going to lie- I had been worried.
Over the next following days, I had time to think about injustice. In those moments, I found myself thinking a lot about my grandmother, who I imagined had been forced to witness countless examples of injustice decades ago.
I began to wonder:
How did she do it? How did she get up every day and face the unpredictable (and at that time, extremely overt acts of injustice, discrimination, dissension, and discrimination)?
How did my grandmother find joy during some of the most terrifying moments of her life during her fight for equality? How did she look hatred in the face one moment and then into the beautiful smiling faces of her children the next without suffering from the insane dichotomy?
And with my own brush with disappointment, especially in this day and age, I wondered what Dorothy Mae would do. How would she react if she still had to face the very battles she fought so hard against over fifty years ago?
And then I thought a little further; I dug a little deeper and sought out the original trailblazer that was Jesus.
Our Savior was no stranger to persecution. He was no stranger to both overt and covert displays of discrimination and hatred.
He literally had to battle Satan!
And knowing the inner thoughts of the self-proclaimed religious folk, Jesus was even aware that His life was being threatened. The very people who had sworn to be God’s people and show God’s love had plotted to kill God’s only true Son.
The Pharisees had made a vow to keep the laws of God. They had made a promise to uphold the law of God, but they broke that promise.
Jesus knew the intent underneath the messages and statements of the Pharisees. Jesus knew how dangerous it would be to cross paths with the Pharisees.
But He did it anyway.
My grandmother may have been brave, but Jesus was fearless.
While under hypocritical fire from the Pharisees, Jesus even boldly encouraged the masses to love their enemies and ask God to bless them.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6: 27-28
And so as I stared into the face of the one sworn in to protect me, I said, “I’m going to ask God to bless you.”
Not because I wasn’t mad- I was extremely put off at that point.
Not because I wasn’t alarmed, but because it was what Jesus wants me to do.
Turning the cheek doesn’t make life’s challenges easier, but it frees me to trust in God’s sovereignty. Forgiveness allows me to give the wheel over to God and allow Him to work His light into darkness.