By EMILY HARDIN
On homework and humility
This past spring, our son’s history teacher tasked students with interviewing an adult about a time they experienced racism. My husband’s reaction was to call Mission Mississippi President Neddie Winters. (You know you’re living a good life when you get to call Neddie Winters for homework help!)
Thanks to an ever-deepening relationship with Neddie through Mission Mississippi, Van knew what a transformative experience this would be for our son. Van and Asher buckled down to prepare for the big phone call. Our nervous 9-year-old dialed Neddie’s number, asked his interview questions, then listened with rapt attention and took notes as Mr. Winters detailed a vulnerable story of racism from his lived experience.
Neddie Winters became part of our village that day. Our son has referenced their conversation multiple times since then, each time with great passion. Neddie taught our son lessons we could not have taught him. As parents, we are so thankful for our village. We are better together. We believe that is God’s design for humanity — to live interconnected and dependent on one another.
Today we find ourselves at the intersection of a global pandemic and a racial justice awakening. The pain is deep. People are not okay. And the world is watching. How will the church respond? We stand at a crossroads, with the opportunity of a lifetime to join God in bringing His kingdom here to Earth. Will we give in to fear and fighting? Or will we band together to usher in the kingdom through love? Failure to do so is causing us to lose our credible witness to this weary world. And that, my friends, must compel us to lament and repent.
We live in the “already” of the kingdom of God thanks to the finished work of Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, yet we await the “not yet” of the kingdom when all things will be made right — when all things will be restored to shalom. This means that all is not yet made right. There are matters here under heaven that must be dealt with for the glory of God and the good of His creation.
We are quick to teach that, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), but will we let this truth penetrate our hearts and move us to embrace the work God is drawing us into today? Are we willing to surrender our certainty, compromise our comfort, and lock arms in solidarity as brothers and sisters on a mission to woo the world back to our good, good God?
This month, I found myself in a conversation where I landed in a different place on a political issue than the other person. It was disorienting and frustrating for both of us. I was 100 percent convinced that I was right, and he was 100 percent convinced that he was right. It would have been all too easy to move on and brush off the tough conversation. However, my friend is a wise and obedient follower of Christ. The next day, he brought me into a Mission Mississippi Zoom call because he wanted to hear my thoughts. He then confessed to those on the call the conviction he experienced after our conversation, and publicly apologized to me for his treatment of me. I was speechless.
In order for us to be effective kingdom-builders, we must come together. We must change together. This will require humility like my friend displayed on that Zoom call, and generosity to teach one another, like Neddie Winters displayed for my son.
The weary and wounded world is watching. May we be the first to listen, to repent, to forgive, to sacrifice, and to embrace! These counter-cultural rhythms fueled by the power of God will be a holy balm to our watching world. #changetogether!
Emily is still really glad she is the girl who got to marry Van Hardin. She is the mom of three hilarious and tenderhearted boys and the director of Red Door Jackson, a faith-based nonprofit that works with students and families in the metro area.