If you flip a few posts back, you’ll see one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2015 is to share my life and experiences with you on this blog at least once a week. That means sometime between Monday and Sunday, all 52 weeks of this year, I’ll write – making my deadline for this week tomorrow evening. All day I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I’ve done, seen, heard and experienced in this week, only my second week back at Vanderbilt. The things I’ve got to do, see, hear and experience this weekend and into next week, the responsibilities to fulfill, are weighing heavy on my mind as well. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep my resolution – there just wasn’t a way to limit everything I was thinking and feeling into words to be shared on this platform.
I was determined to ignore lingering worry about commitments, work and the future last night, however, when some of my best friends decided to get together for a night out in Nashville. These are the friends from my first week on campus, the ones I’ve known as long as I’ve been here, the ones who’ve known me, who I had dinner with at Commons most nights of freshman year, who I’ve come to feel completely comfortable around. This year, since we don’t all live in the same area as sophomores, it’s gotten harder and harder to spend time together as a big group. Nights like this don’t happen very often anymore. And like I said, I had determined I would enjoy it! That mean that when we decided to go see a movie after dinner, even though it was late, and there were things I felt like I should be doing at home, or sleep I should be getting, I went along for the ride.
These are those friends, along with a few of our freshman year escapades
We decided to see Selma, an appropriate choice for the history buff in me for celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday this weekend. The movie is outstanding, especially if you share my affinity for American history, or have a particular interest in the civil rights movement. Even if you don’t, I still recommend you see it, for it succeeds in combining education and history to create and contribute to positive citizenship. It is educational, but it is based in the story of incredible deeds by ordinary individuals of both races, and it is living proof for our society today that the choices we make as individuals contributing to a democratic nation have far-reaching consequences, no matter how insignificant or irrelevant these decisions may seem in our everyday lives.
What the movie Selma does for its audience is what I would like to do as a teacher for my students. It is also a mental stance I have been developing so far this semester in preparing myself to pursue both history and education, two of my greatest passions, to work in tandem and contribute to something larger than myself, and larger than either subject can achieve on its own. That something is the creation and encouragement of positive citizenship in the hearts and minds of future generations. Like I said earlier, there’s been a weight on my mind these past few days. This is a heavy responsibility I am looking to take on in my career, and often that intimidates me.
Somewhere in the middle of the movie, when Dr. King and his fellow protesters had been placed in jail, I checked the time, and began to worry about all of the things I was not doing to prepare myself for this great, frightening future in the present moment, as I was instead sitting inside a movie theater. I tried to reassure myself with the truth that spending time with these friends, who I will only have two and half more years to share life with in this way, is in itself valuable and meaningful. But that didn’t dissuade my agitation, probably because it is a human solution to a human problem.
Going back to the movie, I realized Dr. King was also worrying about the future of the civil rights movement as a whole, and the goals he was attempting to achieve on behalf of his people. That’s a pretty momentous human problem to face. There is no human solution. That’s why one of his friends and colleagues, sitting in a jail cell with him, turned to him and said,
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6:26-27 (NIV)
In that moment, God intersected with our human problems, our sinful state, and our broken world. He entered the fear at the deepest level of my heart and mind and gave me a reason to be present, right where I was: that He was in control, and I was valuable to Him. The writers and the directors of this movie had no idea a nineteen-year-old college student would need to hear the same Scripture as Dr. King did in a jail cell to be reminded that ultimately, our lives, our futures, and our hopes are in the hands of One with a plan far greater than ours.
My God intersects my life with examples of His power, particularly when my human solutions, as all do, fall short of fulfillment and accomplishment. My brokenness is redeemed when I say, “Who could add a single hour of to his life by worrying?” I begin this week continuing to love and be loved by Him who is in control of my big picture, so I can be joyful, not anxious, as I step into the power, purpose, peace and presence of my God.