Words to Live By: My Reflection on a Day to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

“All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I cannot recall the first time that I read that quote. I suspect that it may have been my junior year of college– six years ago (has it been that long?!). I fell in love immediately. I am a fan of words– not the complexity of them, but rather the simple combinations of words that succinctly and precisely say what you have always known to be true, but in a way that you could never have crafted yourself. Many of Martin Luther King’s words are this way for me, but this quote in particular. I cannot be as precise or as succinct, nor as profound, but here is my reflection, nonetheless.

In being wholly ourselves– not the selves that we spend our lives constructing or that we imagine ourselves to be, but the selves that we were intended to be, the selves we are when we are free from anxiety and fear and doubt– we offer others the opportunity to be wholly themselves. This belief influences my daily life in simple ways. Generally speaking, if I sense anxiety, fear or doubt in someone, I try, in my own awkward way, to create a comfortable environment where they might feel more at ease. If I’m awkward enough, no one else has to be, right? This is my small contribution to the world.

Once we are comfortable with ourselves, we can be comfortable with others, and once we are comfortable with ourselves and others, then we can be great. Greatness is achieved when you are who you are called to be and you do what you are called to do. But we can only achieve greatness with each other’s support. So, let’s get to it! My plan is, with your help, dear reader, to harness my awkwardness and use it for good.

What is your plan? What will make you great?

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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2 thoughts on “Words to Live By: My Reflection on a Day to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

  1. “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I love that quote as well. Your thoughts bring to mind a speech by Nelson Mandela on our own light that needs to shine and by shinning we give others permission to do so. I feel fairly certain that you have seen that one. If not, let me know and I will send it to you. All…….easier said than done for me but I do keep trying. This was a lovely thought and a great way for me to start my day. I try to re commit myself daily to becoming more, the person I believe I have been called to be. Thanks for the reminder

  2. Denise

    I love you! (I love Dr King, too, but I love you more!)

    Aunt Denise

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