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Calculating Your RouteBy Danielle Tumminio
“Stay in your lane,” that’s the wisdom that the Rev. Kim Jackson imparted at the Harvey Lecture this past week. In talking with students, faculty, and guests about activism in the contemporary world, she reminded us all that engaging in social justice can be overwhelming. There’s so much that needs to be done—how do we know what our role is supposed to be? Should we march in protest? Run for office? Write editorials? Start a nonprofit? The options can be overwhelming, and knowing where to begin can feel daunting.
That’s where the phrase “stay in your lane” can provide some guidance. Rev. Jackson suggested that each of us is like a car driving down a multilane freeway. We’re not every single car; we’re just one among many. And we can’t drive in every lane at once. We have to choose the one that works best for us. If we are planning to exit soon, then the right lane might be the place we belong. If we need to pass another vehicle, then we should hang out in the left for a time. Whichever lane we wind up in, we know where we belong because we know what our destination is. In other words, the destination and our driving patterns determine which lane we choose.
This image of us as a car that chooses the proper lane is a metaphor for our own sense of call. God did not make each of us to be all things to all people; God created us as unique individuals, with unique gifts and a unique calling, just as cars dwell in the lane that’s fitting for them because of their drivers’ patterns and destinations.
The lesson for activism then is that as activists, we are called to bring our unique calling—a calling gifted by God—to the task. That means we have to take some time to figure out what that calling is, discerning where our gifts meet the world’s needs. We can do this through prayer, through reflection with friends, trusted colleagues, clergy, or a spiritual director, or through creative endeavors like art and writing that help us learn more about who we are.
God says in Jeremiah 22 that humans should, “Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed.” Like so much of the Bible, the message remains timely: We are all to act with justice and righteousness. And we’re to do that in the way that God calls us to. That means knowing who we are, gaining awareness of our gifts and a sense of what we can do to create change. It means knowing which metaphoric lane we are meant to drive in, and, with eyes focused and hands on the steering wheel, proceeding onwards to our destination.
What lane might God be calling you to drive in?
How can we tell if it is time to change lanes?
Do you trust that God is giving you good directions?
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