Family Lessons: Be Ready When Your Name Is Called

Growing up in Black southern Baptist church comes with a lot of traditions. In August, we have revival, also known as “August Meeting.” From one Sunday to the next Sunday, guest preachers offer a nightly sermon and gospel choirs from all around sing and bring the house down with their talented members. After any service, the parking lot is where you can find people chatting it up, kids running around playing, but being told not to scuff their Sunday shoes, and hear reactions to the sermon. If it’s one of those Sundays, folks might be making their way to the fellowship hall or the basement to eat Sunday lunch. But on Easter Sunday, things are just a little bit different.

Easter Sunday was when Momma got us a new dress and new shoes. It’s when everyone wore their very best to church, kind of like dressing up for Jesus. It’s also when every kid had an Easter speech memorized and went to the front of the church to recite it. We’d practice for a week reciting our Easter speech which had been given to us by the person who worked with the youth. As you got older, the speech got longer, but there was one rule back then: No reading from the paper. You had to memorize it, and even if you missed a word or two people would give you a “mighty hand clap” and a few good Amens. Walking in to church on Easter morning was a bit stressful, so it was good to be dressed up in your new digs. You never knew the order of the program so as Momma would say, “Pay attention and be ready when your name is called.”

That lesson-“Pay attention and be ready when your name is called,” has stuck with me. Despite our efforts to try to predict life’s events and the order in which we think they should occur, we can’t. We don’t know when the next opportunity is coming, and that’s ok. Our job isn’t to have some exact linear progression of what we do in life from one step to the next, and for those of us who have a need to feel like we’re in control of something, this can be difficult. Our job is simple. No matter what is going on around us, we all better be ready when our name is called.

I’m sure many people reading this might think I’m referencing professional opportunities, but the truth is I’m referencing any opportunity. An opportunity to speak the truth, to offer a perspective to someone that they may not have otherwise, to make a difference, right a wrong, extend mercy, offer grace, or promote justice-whatever it is, it’s important we do what Momma would tell us every Easter Sunday-“Pay attention and be ready when your name is called.”

I can’t predict what life holds for my future, and neither can anyone else. I don’t know what the next minute will look like, let alone the next day, month, or year, but in this season of life, I’ve got a strong feeling that I need to take Momma’s directions seriously. My goal isn’t to try and predict what might happen. No matter what I encounter, I have just one job: Pay attention and be ready when my name is called, because that’s how I can make sure I fulfill my life’s purpose.

Y’all be easy,

Latoya

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