So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for God. — Romans 12:1
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived a life that transformed the world. We celebrate his life and legacy as an official holiday on Jan. 20. Growing up, I always commemorated his birthdate as a holiday. My mother would take us to a play, concert, museum, parade or gathering where we would learn about and honor the life of Dr. King. That evening, I would write up a full report on what I experienced and learned that day.
The next day I would return to school with my report and a note from my mother, which read, “Dear Teacher, Sheila was out to commemorate and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She has completed a summary of the day and what she experienced …”
My mother predicted my teacher’s reaction, because the letter closed with, “I realize that this is not recognized as an official holiday, but it should be. And until it is, it will be recognized as one in my home. My children will learn his life and legacy. Sincerely, Mrs. Doris Spencer”
Thank you, mama, you were ahead of your time, but the country eventually caught up.
It is incredible when you reflect on everything he experienced and that he never reached the age of 40. One part of his legacy was the fact that he lived out his calling during the lifetime on Earth. Two months before his assassination he told his congregation what he would like said at his funeral: ‘‘I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to love somebody.’’ He knew the value of living his best life.
The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 20, 2020 also marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” this encourages all to volunteer to improve their communities.
Your life is an offering.
As I reflected upon the importance of living our life as an offering, it reminded me of an article I read. Nurses shared statements that patients made as they reached the end of their lives. The statements are simple yet complex. I share them with you, and I thought about the wisdom of Rev. Dr. King.
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“We must use time creatively.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. It is very important to try and honor your dreams along the way. Each one of us is given something to do that shows who God is, and that is a blessed gift. The world is waiting and needs the gift you have to offer. Live your life authentically.
I wish I did not work so hard.
“There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We live in a culture that glorifies being busy, having a full schedule and constant grind. It is important that we take time to rest and realize that self-care is not a luxury; it is essential. Let’s focus on the quality of life, not just the quantity. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win. We are encouraged to speak the truth in love.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” — Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for the ill patients. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important …” — Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called “comfort” of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
We can celebrate the legacy of Dr. King when we live our best life authentically, love God, love others and speak the truth in love. Martin Luther King, in his 39 years, was a living example of this. Can you imagine what would have transpired if he didn’t follow his life calling?
Let’s do the same. Life is a gift. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, and choose honestly. Choose happiness.
Our lives are an offering.
Blessed to be a blessing to you,
Rev. Sheila P. Spencer