Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. – 1 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
We can inherit many things from our families. For me that includes resilience and a love of home, even when that home is far from perfect.
My parents, the same as their parents, started off working in fields for farm owners at very early ages. As young adults in the early 1900s, they bought their own property and continued farming and selling vegetables in the Charleston City Market. Neither of them completed third grade, but my mother always said she had God’s wisdom to guide her.
I grew up in church and at the age of twelve accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. But I soon realized that outside of our James Island community, the social atmosphere was a lot worse than I imagined. Being an African American at a white majority college in 1973 caused me to learn what 1 Peter 3:9 was talking about. I left after a year and enlisted in the Army.
There is no place like Charleston though. I returned after serving for two years, missing my family and Charleston’s rich history of black culture, great flower gardens (especially Magnolia) and beautiful beaches. I inherited my mother’s business: Virginia’s Vegetable Stand, and with each year that went by, I continued to keep 1 Peter 3:9 at the forefront. The social atmosphere became better, but not as good as it is today. I remember my mother praying for people who mistreated her because they felt she
was less than they were, that she didn’t have the education they possessed. She would tell me, “kill them with kindness.” Repaying evil with blessing is engraved in my family heritage, and prayer was the basis of our family’s faith and walk with God.
God was always at the head of whatever my parents planned or wanted for us. My mother was a true missionary, giving her unsold goods to families in need or sending over a cooked dinner for a family. My parents taught all ten of us, it is better to give than to receive because God will give you what he has for you.
Being a native Charlestonian, I have seen so many changes in my lifetime. Charlestonians (all races) have come from separate schools and churches, not living, or even traveling through certain neighborhoods, to living next to each other, learning in the same classrooms, and worshipping God together. I never knew why it was like that before, but I am so glad it is not like that now.
My mother used to also tell us “Just live.” Each day, I try to do that. I see God’s blessing and changes in Charleston for the better. And one day, God will transform and redeem the entire world—all the places we love most.
Reflect: In what ways can you repay evil and insults with blessings?