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  • Dr. Autumn Swain

Thankful for the Hard Things

I love hard things.

After these past couple of years navigating racial tensions, a global pandemic, and a host of other massive challenges, people are probably SO over “hard things”.

On one hand, I don’t blame you….but on another….we have to embrace the hard things, and then do it again to see holy and worthy outcomes!

Because things like racial unity, global health, and justice don’t come easy!

Dr. King chose to quote Amos 5:24 for a reason.

Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,”

King’s preface….”No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until...”

In the midst of it all, some of us remain hungry….hungry for the hard! It's a holy adrenaline brought on by the Spirit of God in us fueling a desire for shalom, for wholeness for people and our communities.

We can’t let hard discourage us. We have to let it fuel our fire.

Anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy.

Transformation doesn’t come easy. Health doesn’t come easy. Unity doesn’t come easy. But with a united front, united with God and one another, it can come!

My church is really focused on a vision for beloved community. I love this. It takes us beyond diversity and unity into a unique space. A space Jesus desired all along but somewhere along the way we have gotten far away from this vision.

I have witnessed spaces that are “proud” of creating a “diverse” environment. However, diversity only should not be the only goal. People also want unity as an idea, being together in a space, or on a mission, and working towards a collective goal. However, this too should not be our exclusive desire. A beloved community is goal of wholeness.

Here is what National Community Church has defined these three spaces as to give you a quick point of reference.

Diversity - Diversity means having a range of people with various racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds. It’s something we don’t have to open our personal lives to. It can exist in our spaces (church and work) while not being present in our intimate lives.

Unity - Oneness of purpose. It is working together in harmony toward a shared vision and goal. We are united as we are one body. This is not something we strive for, but rather something we surrender to.

Beloved Community - Embracing what Jesus teaches us—a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love of one's fellow human beings. In love, it embraces and values “we” more than “me,” embedding the “me” in the fullness of “we.” It is a growing, expansive state of harmony; a community where people are beloved by God and becoming the beloved.

See for more information.

When I was neck deep in my doctoral studies and contemplating a research topic for my dissertation I continued to come back to a vision for shalom (spiritual wholeness). Shalom is a vision that requires social, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and economic wellness. Hence, God’s call for us to work towards shalom must require making intentional steps towards this beloved community.

Call to Action: What role can you play in starting somewhere on a collective journey towards a beloved community?

There is a role for everyone.

One simple idea is to pick up a book on the topic (see resources at for some ideas. After reading it, take 1 or 2 nuggets and apply them in your life. That is one place to start and a step is all it takes to begin moving towards wholeness in our communities and in our world.


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