“Space to Breathe” {Jackie Robinson, Freedom, and Hope}

“I believe in the goodness to be found in every free society. And I believe that under the American Flag, goodness, and righteousness, cannot long be stifled.” ~Jackie Robinson

Today I visited the Library of Congress. {Pinching self, to make sure it’s real} Tucked away in the “Creating the United States” I discovered a personally typed transcript of Jackie Robinson’ “This I Believe Speech” from 1954.

For those of you unfamiliar with the life of Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), he was the first African-American Major League Baseball player to break the color line. Despite his superior athleticism, he was well-acquainted with the horrors of racism. While his contribution to baseball will never be forgotten, it is his spirit of courage, forgiveness, and steadfastness in the fight for civil rights that will always be remembered.

It’s easy when we’re discontent with the status quo to lose perspective…and hope. Sometimes that discontent is internal–the gnawing frustration one experiences when personal growth seems stalled in the intersection of unwanted habits and unrefined virtues.  Other times, discontent is an external pressure–when the culture around presses against the aspirations of what the heart knows is good, true, and beautiful.

Into this kind of frustration, Robinson speaks, “But I believe with every fiber in me that what I obtained…I obtained slowly because, all of Us in this society of ours…slowly we put behind us the dogmas of the past…discover the greater truth of today…and seek the greatness of tomorrow.

Change takes time. It needs “space to breathe.” It requires freedom. Freedom for you and me to disagree. Freedom for each of us to keep seeking to understand each other…and to maybe even change our minds. It’s really the message of the Gospel, right? All that is wrong today can change tomorrow. 

When I think about all the discontent that is going on in my heart, in the church, in the United States, and in the World, I wish Jackie could be here again to remind us that freedom needs space and hope never feels rushed. 

Here is a copy of his speech for you to read.

Courtesy of American Treasures of the Library of the Congress http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/tri070.html

How about you? Where do you find yourself being rushed along with discontent or frustration?  What “dogma of today” do you need to release to history? What “greater truth” do you need for today? What “greatness” do you long for tomorrow? What will it look like for you to make “space to breathe”?

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