When you’re a bridge for people, you can’t be surprised when you get walked on a little bit. What words of wisdom.
Jasmine Mullen is the front singer for a rapidly rising—as in Rolling Stones’ Top Ten New Artists You Need to Know—pop, soul and rock ‘n roll sound I had the privilege to hear in a live performance last night. Together with her cousins, twins, Lexi and Zandy, who play electric guitar and their brother, Darius, on the drums, the New Respects are four African-Americans, 22-23 years old. Theirs is a contagious sound with an even better message, especially in the midst of so much violence and mean spirit lose in our world today. They hold out hope in the midst of darkness, lifting up love and forgiveness as the answer to what ‘keeps our world spinning’ and gives ‘life its meaning.’
In an article featuring them, the New Respects talk about being a bridge for people, having grown up within black culture, yet surrounded by Caucasian people who loved them as well. They are passionate about finding ways to encourage people to listen—truly listen—to each other and to share within that context as well. It was Jasmine’s mom, a Christian and gospel singer, who shared the insight about the cost of being a bridge, a cost all of them are more than willing to bear.
One more thing about the New Respects that I loved: when asked if they are a Christian Band, they rejoined with, “…we identify as a band of Christians, not as a Christian Band.” What is the difference, I wonder? To me it seems significant, the difference between a bounded set and a centered set. A bounded set has a clear, hard boundary, you’re either in or out. Then again, a group with no boundaries isn’t really a group at all. There is, however, such a thing as a centered set—where what binds you together is a common goal and path. The New Respects are a centered set: bound to one another because they are following this way of Jesus and are aligned with anyone desiring to travel in the same direction of reconciling love.
I think we, too, are called to be a band of Christians who see ourselves as bridges. We are to be clear who we are following and what that means about how we relate in this world, while leaving plenty of open space for others going in the same direction. We who see with the eyes of Christ, who see ourselves, others and all of creation through God’s eyes, are to be people of reconciliation, people who heal—bridge people. In reality, we very often forget this important truth because we are bumped and bruised in the course of this life and, out of our own pain, we tend to bump and bruise others. And suddenly we’ve forgotten our true purpose in life.
The amount of pain I’m hearing in people—caused by what someone said or did—is greater than ever these days. We, who are to love as Jesus loves us, are struggling with doing just that, and yet, that is the only way forward. Faith, hope, love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love. Darius, Zandy, Lexi and Jasmine are crystal clear about their true purpose, and it shows. Can the same be said about you and about me? What concrete thing can you do each day to reach past the pain and into doing something tangible and loving for another, perhaps especially for someone you feel hurt by? And when we get stepped on, as surely we will, perhaps we, too, can we see it as something we’re willing to bear–even honored to bear–for the greater good.