"One day, I know the struggle will change. There's got to be a change - not only for Mississippi, not only for the people in the United States, but people all over the world."
Fannie Lou Hamer
When Fannie Lou Hamer burst on the scene in 1944, she was destined for greatness. Not the type of greatness that afforded her vast fortune, unlimited privileges, or even social approval. No. Quite the opposite. She was a sharecropper from the Mississippi Delta, experienced extreme poverty, and fought valiantly for civil rights.
Despite brutal beatings and terrorism threats, she pressed on for the right to vote and to change the lives of people not just in Mississippi but all over the world. Fannie Lou Hamer was the epitome of GREATNESS and is my SHERO. She is an example of what it means to fight for social justice. She is an example of believing in the possibilities, not in the reality of what we see. She is an example of a tenacious spirit that propels us to press on toward our hopes, our dreams, our desires, and our greatness.
There are many lessons I learn from her life. My life is all the better because of her actions and others who paved the way for me. When I am tired and weary as I strive to serve, answer my calling, and live out my greatness, there are four valuable lessons that I cherish from her life’s journey.
Be deeply committed to our goals. There will always be challenges in reaching our goals. These challenges might come in the form of people who try to block our path, unconscious limiting beliefs, financial restrictions, physical obstacles, and so on. Yet, these challenges do not signify defeat but rather a need to step back, to rest in the knowledge that we are sacred beings with the capacity to “move mountains”, and to think about the who, what, when, and where components of how to move forward.
Move with courage despite our fear. Sometimes there are real threats to accomplishing our goals and moving towards greatness. For most of us, our lives are not threatened like Mrs. Hamer’s. But … there are threats to our livelihoods, our relationships, and our security, all of which can propel us into a state of fear and paralyze us. We would rather stay with our current situations rather than march into the unknown. One thing is for certain: when we have an ache inside of us that signals us to change the course of our lives, we will never be happy if we settle. Remember, courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to triumph over it. It is the ability to persevere in the face of it. It is the belief that something more important is waiting on the other side of that fear.
Understand that there are sacrifices to be made. It is virtually impossible to move into greatness without making sacrifices. Ms. Hamer sacrificed her life, health (from brutal beatings), her livelihood, and so much more. Our sacrifices may be different but can be costly just the same. There might be sleepless nights; missed time with partners, children, family, and friends; missed opportunities for fun, and even being unappreciated and unloved by others at times. Yet, our calling beckons us. Our passion drives us. Greatness awaits us!
Recognize that our work, passion, or calling is much bigger than ourselves. The ego is a powerful force, and if we are not careful, we can fool ourselves into thinking that “it is all about us.” The truth is, everything we do has an impact on someone else, and their actions impact another, and so on. In living out our hopes and dreams, it is imperative that we remember our shared humanity and the importance of serving others. If we move through this life, committed to walking fully in our sacred calling, we will undoubtedly change the world for many. We may not, in this moment, know the potential of our impact but rest assured: It is much bigger than ourselves!
I invite you to relish in these lessons and allow them to inspire you to live your greatness! I also invite you to take a moment to learn more about the life of Fannie Lou Hamer.
As always, I wish you well in your journey and remind you that I am here if you’d like to chat. Click here to access my calendar and schedule a time to speak with me to learn how I might support you along your journey.
Peace, love, and blessings.
Dr. Terrlyn L. Curry Avery