I did something last week that I’ve never done before. I took a “staycation”. I’ve been on vacation before, but I’ve always traveled out of town or out of state for my vacations. I’ve lived in Wilmington, NC since the mid ‘70s, and there are so many places around here that I’ve never visited or haven’t been to in about 40 years. I started my “staycation” by wanting to check those places off of my bucket list. What I came away with was soooo much more than that!!
The first place I visited was The Bellamy Mansion. I had heard so much about it through the years, but I had never been there. I learned a LOT about the history of my hometown that I never knew about, and some of it was not pleasant. The Bellamys were extremely well-to-do, but they were slave owners. One of the interesting things I noticed was the intricate detail of all of the crown molding in the ceilings of every room in the mansion . . . and it was all made by a slave!!
The second place I visited was Moore’s Creek Battlefield about 25-30 miles outside of Wilmington. The Battle of Moore’s Creek only lasted a total of three MINUTES!! The victory allowed North Carolina to establish itself as one of the first independent colonies right before the Revolutionary War began. There’s so much that I can say about what I learned when visiting this battlefield. The interesting thing to me was when I came to the section with all of the monuments, they had the Patriot Monument which was in honor of all who lost their lives so that North Carolina could be an independent colony, but they also had the Loyalist Monument that paid homage to those who also lost their lives for what they believed in, even though they wanted to keep North Carolina and the rest of the country under the control of King George of Scotland.
The lesson I came away with from both places I visited was this: grace!! When I thought about all that the slaves endured during the 1800s, and yet the man who created all of that incredible amount of detail in the mansion chose to return the abuse he endured with an incredible amount of undeserved grace, amazing artisanship and skill . . . it brings tears to my eyes!! In my opinion, grace was also extended to the Loyalists at Moore’s Creek Battlefield by the monument in their honor. Do I agree with what the Loyalists were fighting for? Do I agree with slavery of any form? Absolutely not!! In both cases, grace was extended. In the first case, undeserved grace was extended by a slave to a slave owner. In the second case, grace was extended to a group of people who were fighting for ideas that were contrary to our country’s freedom. In other words, neither returned hatred with more hatred.
In this day and age, I wish more people could learn that hateful words, violence, and rioting does nothing for unity. It only tears us apart. How can we expect to be an encouragement to someone or have a positive impact if we are constantly criticizing, pointing our fingers, or name-calling?? I always go back to Proverbs 25:21-22. It says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (NASB).
The only true way to make a difference in this world is to get out of our comfort zones, love people, pray for them, and most importantly, extend grace when we’ve been wronged. Remember . . . we will need that same grace extended to us one day!!