When I walked into this building eight short months ago, I had no idea what I was walking into. I don’t say that as a bad thing—it was a wonderful surprise. I could never have imagined the gifts and lessons that the members and staff of First Church would bestow upon me. My internship is not over quite yet (I’ll be here through the end of May), but I thought I would start reflecting now.
As I write this article, I am at a loss for words. How do I put all of the lessons, growth, and memories into 250 words? Here are three words to represent what I have learned and experienced here. These words cannot represent all the amazing experiences I have had, but it is a start.
Patience. Before I started this internship, I viewed justice work as a race. Who can respond the fastest, who can gain the most knowledge in the shortest amount of time? While certain issues do require a quick response, it’s not so much of a race. We all go on our “justice journey” at a different pace and in a different way. Sometimes taking your time to learn and plan, before going out and taking action, can be even more effective.
Humility. Unfortunately, none of us are perfect. With such a vast sea of social issues surrounding us, it’s extremely challenging to know everything. I used to try to conquer this unimaginable feat of “knowing it all.” Then I met the people of this church. I am constantly amazed by the
humility both members and staff display. There is a desire for learning that permeates this congregation. Perhaps this is the beauty of incorporating spirituality into social justice. It encourages us to not only recognize, but honor our mistakes and flaws, and learn from them.
Gratitude. There are so many amazing people within our community (at church and in Milwaukee) doing the work of justice. I feel privileged to have witnessed this and been a part of this. There are days where I feel a little discouraged because of the injustice that runs deeply within our communities. Despite this feeling, I am often met with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation when I see the remarkable work First Church is a part of. It is having more of an impact than you will ever know.
I will be around for the next month, so feel free to stop by the Social Justice Table some Sunday and say hello. For now, I want to leave you with a word of thanks. Thank you for all of the work that each and every one of you does. This work is creating a community of inclusivity, justice, and love. A community that I have loved being a part of.