There’s a white house that sits slightly elevated on Jackson Street in Montgomery. On the outside, it’s nothing extraordinary, but decades ago an extraordinary man lived there. The young minster of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Reverend Martin Luther King, his beautiful wife, Coretta, and their children lived there.
Inside that house men and women huddled in the wee hours to plan the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In that house, Mrs. King shielded her babies when men threw homemade bombs through the window. In that house words were written that changed the course of history.
After a few years in that house, Dr. King knew it was time to move on. He knew he had more work to do, and in a sense he had done all he could do in Montgomery.
Dr. King’s life was a testament to faith, hard work, and dedication. As I reflect on his life and the sacrifice he made so that all people could be treated equally, I often wondered what would have happened if he stayed in Montgomery? I’m sure people tried to get him to stay, but his moving forward changed the world.
There comes a point in every person’s life when you know it’s time to move on. One of the consequences of moving forward is leaving people and things that no longer serve you behind. When you outgrow a place, a job, or even a group of friends, you always have to deal with the blowback.
People will try to guilt you into staying. They will try to “should” you into staying right where you are, even if you are miserable. As my mom used to say, “Misery loves miserable company.”
Sometimes moving on means an actual physical move. Sometimes it’s a new city. Sometimes it’s a new job. Sometimes moving on simply requires you to back up a digital U-Haul, and get the hell out of social media crazytown.
Moving on is never easy, but it is absolutely necessary if you want to do anything good in the world. Your good thing does not have to be a fancy thing, a sexy thing, or a popular thing. But you can never do your thing as long as you are caught up in “their” thing. We all have those moments when we realize, “This is not where I belong.”
So, it is up to you to create a sacred space of belonging. It’s up to you to know when to move on.
We are only given a few years on this planet, and I want to spend mine doing things that matter, being a good mom, and being the best wife I can to my husband.
As I ponder what Dr. King’s legacy means to me, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that progress does not come to those who are unwilling to move forward. The Civil Rights Movement was about people being willing to move into the unknown and into life-threatening situations in the name of progress.
Progress does not come for those who enjoy being a spectator in someone else’s life.
Knowing that I come from a place where people believed in the dream and accomplished the impossible always makes me feel proud. I come from a family who walked to work, marched, took beatings all in the name of the future.
I come from people who did not subscribe to a crabs in the barrel mentality. I was raised with that old school mantra, “When one succeeds we all succeed.”
The work I do in the world is all about laughter and inspiration. I know it’s not super important like a surgeon, nor is it world-changing like Civil Rights work.But, I really can’t expect to have the fruit of my labor to taste sweet, if I constantly expose myself to toxic, poisonous, and miserable people. I can’t inspire others if I am aligned with people who practice the art of personal destruction.
There’s a real life lesson in what folks were able to accomplish during the Civil Rights Movement: If you want to achieve the impossible, surround yourself with like-minded people. People didn’t always agree on methods to end segregation in the South, but they were a united front. They didn’t tear each other down in public or in front of the media. They understood the power of unity.
My two favorite quotes by Dr. King are “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” and “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Both of these quotes resonate deeply with me, especially in light of what I’ve experienced recently. What truly matters to me can be found in my home and in my heart.
I see people jokingly say, “Dr. King didn’t die for this!” on my Twitter timeline, and if you stop and think about it, NO. He didn’t. He didn’t die so that I could be a willing participant in conscientious stupidity.
I am grateful for all I’ve learned, and I bless the journey. But now, it’s time for a course correction, and I’m taking it. I’ve never been more ready to move on.
When I think of that white house on Jackson Street, I brim with pride because that house was the original dream house. When Dr. King left that house, he moved on to the world stage. He no longer belonged in Montgomery. He belonged to history.
Is there something in your life that is no longer serving you? Is there something or someone you need to leave behind? Today would be a great day to liberate yourself, and take a baby step towards your greatness.
To learn more about The Dexter Parsonage Museum, former home of Dr. Martin Luther King and his family click here.