Steven R. Woods, Pastor of Living Word Faith Center in New Albany, recently said, “... you love God but you still haven’t been delivered from racism, hate, unforgiveness, etc...” As I listened to his words, I began to examine my soul. I don’t want any of those issues in my life. I thought about how we make resolutions for the New Year. Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” My resolution is to continue to love people from all walks of life.
My mind began to swirl with memories of people who don’t look like me – how they treated me and how I responded to their treatment. I remember as a child sitting on Mrs. Juanita Watkins’ lap as she read to me several days a week, how she taught me so much about life and how she loved me. My mother was a domestic worker in her home.
I thought about integration into an all-white school back in the late 60s. How the students didn’t like me and how I hated them for the way they treated me. My mother constantly told me I had to love and forgive. I forgave those students and I loved them.
I thought about Mrs. Dot Basden who is almost 90 years old. When I was a senior in high school, I needed to visit MUW in Columbus. She called my mother to say, “I will take Juanita to Columbus, along with my daughter, Sondra. I will take care of Juanita.” Mrs. Basden paid for my lunch and supper. She treated me with dignity and respect. My mother offered her money – she wouldn’t take it. I happened to be in the Red Line Grocery Store in Sherman a few weeks ago and saw Mrs. Basden for the first time since that trip 40 years ago. I was able to tell her how much I appreciated her for helping me when it was not kosher to do so at that time. I have never forgotten her kindness toward me.
I happened to be at Kroger’s when I saw Mrs. Sara Monts, a teller, with Trustmark Bank. She introduced me to Cameron, her husband, and to her daughter, Electra. As I was walking to my car, Cameron followed behind and proceeded to load all of my groceries into my car. What a beautiful act of kindness toward me.
Another friend of mine was sitting in church and the Lord spoke to her. He said, “Wash Juanita’s feet. As you are washing her feet – begin to ask Me for forgiveness of how your ancestors treated her ancestors...” She called me and began to share what was on her heart. After our discussion, she asked if I would be offended if she washed my feet like they did in the Bible. If you know anything about me – even with my imperfections, you know that I love the Lord and I believe in His principles. So I said, “Of course – you may wash my feet.” Mother Teresa said, “Whenever you share love with others, you’ll notice the peace that comes to you and to them.” What a beautiful feeling of peace that came over both of us!
As I thought about my life and experiences, I recalled how I should have died as an infant with pneumonia; should have drowned and should have had brain damage; should have died in several car accidents; and, should have died from complications when I gave birth to my three children. I am so thankful to have been given an opportunity to share my experiences and positive stories of love among the races. Mother Teresa further said, “God loves me. I’m not here just to fill a place, just to be a number. He has chosen me for a purpose. I know it.”
In 2020, what is your resolution? Could it be to love and forgive people? Could it be to carry out your purpose in life? You decide.