Really Free (Part 2)
Since my last communication with you, when I introduced Part 1 of “Really Free”, I had the privilege of learning about an extremely courageous young woman, Maya Moore. Maya, who is 32 years old, became known to the world when at the young age of 29, her claim to fame was the winner of four WNBA championships and a league MVP award. In 2011 she was the WNBA Rookie of the Year. She was a six-time WNBA All-Star and a five-time All-WNBA first-team honoree, and her list of accomplishments does not stop there. However, in February of 2019 she stunned the sports world, but particularly the world of basketball, when she announced she would be sitting out that season to focus on “the people in my family, as well as on investing my time in some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years.” The course this young woman’s life would take over the next several years is nothing short of astounding. But before I go into why she chose to step away from her basketball career, it is important to focus on the courage it took to pursue her dreams as a black female athlete in a sport that even today still can be looked at as male dominated. What can you say about the boldness it took to follow a dream, to defy the odds, and declare the FREEDOM to become, and make an impact in someone else’s life?! She refused to let stereotypical judgements and classifications stand in her way. She charted her path to freedom to “become” and she rose to the challenge.
Now, in case you are not familiar with the story of Maya Moore, let me enlighten you just a bit as to what was behind her intriguing decision to step away from her career in professional basketball. Maya learned by way of her family about a man by the name of Jonathan Irons who was accused and convicted at the age of 18 and was serving a 50-year sentence for burglary and assault. After learning of his conviction through her family, something inside her was stirred and it became her mission to fight for his freedom. The incident for which Mr. Irons was charged happened in January of 1997, however the two did not meet until 2007. The relationship that developed between Maya and Jonathan and her belief in his innocence became a personal conviction and a private cause at first. But as time went on in her quest to have his conviction overturned, she discovered not only the desire but the belief that she could have an impact on issues of criminal justice publicly. After years of research, reexamination of evidence, and requests for appeals, Jonathan was finally released with the conviction overturned. But during this ordeal, Maya developed a passion that could not be suppressed. She created and introduced her social action campaign, Win With Justice, (which now partners with a national non-profit organization called For The People), as well as focusing on the work happening across the country to reform the criminal justice system. In September of 2020, Maya and Jonathan were married in a private ceremony. Together they are now deeply entrenched in their fight for prosecutorial injustice and advocates for justice in the system for those who have been denied their rights and sounding the clarion call to bring dignity to all beings, especially our most vulnerable!
I shared this incredible story because it resonated so loudly with me as to what great things can be accomplished when we discover the liberating power of our personal freedom. Yes, it is important for us to understand what freedom really means to us, how we live our lives, our true purpose for existence, and what we are to do with the opportunities placed before us. However, when we truly recognize that our freedom is meant to affect the life of another, it becomes an even more powerful discovery. Maya Moore’s life was and still is full of faith and belief in God, which she says without Him nothing she has ever achieved on the basketball court, or in the courtroom would have ever been possible. She let the world know that when she dawned the stage of the 2021 Espy Awards as the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Within seconds of gracefully walking across the stage being escorted by her loving husband Jonathan, she expressed how thankful she was that Jonathan was free and present with her, she then asked the audience to just say with her Hallelujah!! During her acceptance speech she explained one of the most freeing things she came to know during her 20’s is that she is a created being wonderfully made in God’s image. She further stated, “That means I don’t have to define myself; my creator has designed me for a beautiful purpose!
When we find our true purpose and reason for being, it is a sense of freedom that is exhilarating! The full scope of Maya Moore’s story could not be shared within this blog, so I urge you to read her story and listen to her brief acceptance speech, it just might push you to rise to the unlimited possibilities of your FREEDOM!
In closing, I extend a special invitation to you to be our special guest at the Esther by Design 13th Annual Retreat, Friday, August 6 – 8, 2021. Our theme “The Uprising” is especially designed with worship, informative sessions, and life changing messages delivered by our anointed guest speakers to encourage you to RISE and take hold of the opportunities that God has placed before you to become His best – the express image of the Creator Himself! You do not want to miss this weekend! Full details and registration are available on our website www.estherbydesign.org.