“All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a far distance they saw and greeted them….” Hebrews 11:13a
It’s rarely an accident when people get left out of the narrative. There is investment in every story we tell: who it chooses to highlight, the way people are presented, the mistakes we are willing to forgive. Resources, companies, and media often retell the same stories in the same ways. They want something from the narrative, which changes the perspective. As we become aware of the marginalized or realize we are the margins, it provokes emotions. This has no place in the Kingdom! We feel. Anger, resentment, doubt, rage, grief are all valid. Our stories also deserve to be told and heard. We should not be erased through being ignored.
Whose story is missing from the list of faithful people in Hebrews 11? Who is defined more by their mistakes than their triumphs? What Bible stories do you tell the most?
We work and live and move and have our being. We struggle. We feel that there must be more, there must be something better, and there has to be a way to create something new. This can’t be all there is. There must be things that bring life. When so much seems the same and we go unseen, what motivates our next step? Does any of it even matter?
I will answer that question through another question: who is one person that paved the way for you to be where you are right now?
Pauli Murray inspires me. Her honest searching and confronting the truths about her gender, racism, sexism and the way she stood up for what she believed. Everything she put her hand to was about a passion truth and justice. It was not a passive, fatalistic acceptance but an active, exercised fight. Her contemplation drove her to protest, write, act, get degrees, etc. Anything she could think to do, she did it. And yet all of this was done without recognition for her efforts. Sometimes, it must have seemed like all effort did little to create meaningful change, yet here we are after her death. Advances in equality and freedom have all been built from the foundation of her work.
Does any of it even matter? That depends on our focus. Who are we doing the work for? If I am wanting a specific result now, I may never see that. That is a hopelessly draining task to fight for a new world instantly appear now. It is an impossible task. But if we are working so that two generations from now they will not have to suffer through what we did, I may still never see that in my lifetime….but they will.
Every seed we plant is not about today but about tomorrow.
What can we do, create, highlight today so that our grandchildren never have that thing cross their minds? This is the kingdom. This is the world that I find life in creating. This is full of the infinite possibility of the divine. Yes, it has joy, but it also has struggle, cruelty, and lack, and it sees the death of so many things that should be my right to enjoy. I can grieve even as I work to pass the things I long for into the hands of someone else for them to have. I may not make it, but I want to make sure that you will. That’s worth it.
So we may die without ever having received the promises on this earth, but we walk towards them, and we see them from afar and greet them as a dear friend….