When you were in middle and high school, which crowd were your people? Were you the popular crew, the rebels, the athletes, the nerd, the bully or the bullied, the mean girl or her victim? From 6-12 grade, I was a blender.
My ability to blend in with any group of people was due partly to the fact that I was smart, which meant I could help anyone with their homework and partly because I was nice, which meant I helped most people when needed it. Also, I didn’t spend much time away from the sight of my teachers. I did what was expected of me and I had perfect citizenship (behavior) every year in middle and high school.
For the most part, people didn’t notice me unless they were blenders like me. A few times, here and there, a popular guy noticed me and talked to me in public but for the most part, I was one of the few black students in all of my classes and was expected to represent my race well. That pressure kept me pretty busy; so, I didn’t go out of my way to be noticed or obtain popularity.
But, there was one person who got the worst of it. There was always that one person that no one spoke to and who everyone shunned, even the nerds. When I was growing up, that person was a boy who was really poor. From the time I knew him, he was always alone. No one ever spoke to him. He got on our school bus, sat in the front, and got off our school bus to go to school. He was always alone.
To this day, though I remember his face, I am not sure of his name. I saw him every day and never had one conversation with him. He lived less than two miles from me, and I never visited him. He and his grandmother were the neighborhood recluses. In fact, I didn’t even notice when they both no longer lived in our community. As a blender, I never gave up my protected status to speak to him and nor gave him a place to be among the crowds.
Thinking about my schoolmate, I am reminded of John 4:27, “Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’” Jesus didn’t care about the cliques or his reputation. Jesus didn’t seek to protect his status as male and Jewish. Jesus didn’t even assert his authority as the Son of God, too holy to be tainted by this woman. Jesus did what Jesus does best. He used his power and privilege to uplift someone, to put a hedge of protection around a lost soul and to increase the status of someone whose social status had taken a beating.
Jesus’ example challenges me to look around and see who could use some of my protected status to help them be elevated among us humans. With whom am I called to share my power and privilege? Yes, even as a black woman in these not often United States of America, I have power and privilege. Even though my socioeconomic status is not the best, I still have power and privilege through Christ Jesus. We all do.
Today, as you reflect, think of the persons that need you to advocate for them as you think of the times Jesus advocated for your when you most needed it.