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His name was Ramiro. He was six years old.
I was helping him with his homework one day when he told me about how he hadn’t seen his father in months. He had been deported. And he had done nothing wrong. He was just his dad. And Ramiro missed his papa.
This was 2006 – twelve years ago. And I have to admit – I have no idea where Ramiro is today, nor do I know where his father is, nor the rest of his family.
But Ramiro put a fire in my belly. God used a little six-year-old Mexican boy to open the eyes of a suburban-raised white college girl – a girl who had only read about these kinds of things in books, or watched them play out on the news – detached and removed from it all.
Coming to Grips with Reality
I was working at an inner-city before-and-after-school program when I met Ramiro and his family. I was in college studying Elementary Education, and had begun reading books by the likes of Jonathan Kozol, who exposed the injustices and “savage inequalities” of the education system in America. Growing up in one of the richest suburbs in the country, attending a privileged school system, I honestly had never had any idea of any of it. I was appalled by what I read in Kozol’s books, and other books like those by Shane Claiborne. But until I witnessed it for myself, and got to know the kids and families living it out day by day, I couldn’t come to grips with the harsh realities of the injustices of modern America. Injustice to me – in America – had always been a thing of the past. Things were better now. I thought.
Living a Micah 6:8 Kind of Life
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Our son is named Micah after this verse, which happens to be one of my favorites in the entirety of the Bible. It’s so simple, and yet it’s not. We can spend our whole lives trying to figure out exactly what it means for each of us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
What does it mean to us as individuals, as families, as a church?
It’s little steps, really. It plays out in the little things. It’s shaping our lives to be just, merciful, loving – always and every day seeking to be followers and friends of God.
For our family, it’s helping refugee kids with homework with Migros Aid Indy. And it’s standing up for the rights of refugees as well.
It’s following God when he calls you somewhere, like moving from the suburbs to the inner-city.
And recognizing that we are not martyrs because our family now lives in the inner-city, in one of “the most dangerous areas” of the state. It’s just where we live… we’re here because God led us here. It’s home.
We’re not exceptional. We are simply trying to live out Micah 6:8 in our own way. We’re just living our lives. Day by day, it’s following his lead.
How It Plays Out with our Kids
With our kids, to get right down to it, it’s about living honestly.
We would be being dishonest if we kept reality from our kids. Homeschooling for us has never been about sheltering them from the world. It has been about sharing openly with them when they have questions. It’s being honest with them about what’s going on in the world around us. It’s being honest about the injustices and hypocrisies we see in our immediate and wider world.
And it’s letting our kids think for themselves. It is not about teaching them what to think – it’s about teaching them how to think. It’s about leading them to find their own call. For a 10-year-old and a 5-year-old, it’s about learning how to be a friend, learning to share, learning to be considerate, learning to be patient, learning to discern who to trust and what to believe. It’s teaching them that no one – no one – has all the answers, and no one has the authority to tell them what to believe. They’ve got to work that out for themselves, and learn what Micah 6:8 living looks like for themselves, too.
It’s about living in a way where you have encounters with kids like Ramiro, and you allow them to change the course of your life.
It’s about living with an open, teachable mind and heart.
One of my most favorite quotes is by Rabbi Harold Schulweis. He says, “Faith is a peculiar gift, neither the last word, nor the first. Faith is like a window: When we shut it firmly, we keep out the ‘strange thoughts,’ but also the fresh air; when we carelessly leave it open, we invite the blustery wind. Allowing our window of faith to be both open and shut is a spiritual task that takes both wisdom and courage.”
So may we live our Micah 6:8 lives with wisdom and courage. And may God be with you, friends.
Live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
We’d love for you to join us in this bumpy ride – and share with us about your own journey, too. We’re creating things like our Fruit of the Spirit printables, available now for subscribers, and more resources are coming soon that we’d love to share with you. Next up is our Scripture, Saints, and Hymns printables and coloring book… and something special is coming for All Saints Day, too. Subscribe here– and let’s do this thing together.