The Saturday morning Trump signed his executive order banning refuges I spent countless hours wracking up an irritating headache as my eyes were glued to this too small smartphone. My eyes were wrecked, my brain was in upheaval, and my heart felt ripped apart.
Just ten days prior, I helped welcome a Congolese refugee family to these American soils.
Laughed with a fellow volunteer as hours before they arrived we pondered whether we should show up to the airport with shoes. Because clearly it is proper shoes…
Not food consumption, boarding planes to the unknown, or the chance of being turned around only to be told: No Entry…
that must be the biggest concern for our refugee mama after flying halfway around the world for 17 hours straight.
So that Saturday, January 28th – I couldn’t understand how one man could wield such power to turn away people clinging to threads of hope.
The last four months few words have been written on this computer, but many have been the words in my head.
Today we attempt a trek to Wal-Mart – only a few miles away but hours away when using public transportation.
Six lanes of cars flash by as I slow my steps to the gait of a woman used to carrying loads of laundry on her head.
We squat on a cracked sidewalk waiting an hour for the bus to appear.
Growing uncomfortable with the deafening silence between us, I whip out my speak & translate app – attempting to converse with a language so foreign from my own.
The fastest way to transform your life is to serve a soul that looks, acts, or believes different than your own.
Helping a refugee family re-settle has opened my eyes to my preconceived notions and judgmental thoughts. Lifted the veil on the hardships those relying on public transportation face. Made me wonder if the ways of life I consider essential are really necessary.
It’s easy to roll up our car windows and blast the radio when we see the homeless man on the street corner, turn a blind eye to the latest Israeli/Palestine killing reports on the television, or drown out the noise of social injustice by making our schedules busier & busier so we have a convenient excuse of no time to spend with those who need us most.
Put a name with that homeless man, give a story to the 12 year old Palestine boy, and it becomes impossible to ignore social injustice.
As a wise refugee volunteer leader shared, “having a personal connection, a name & face, changes the lens of how you view the world around you.”
Six months ago, if I’d driven by a mom and a toddler sitting on the sidewalk of a busy road waiting for the bus – I’m not sure sympathy would have been my gut reaction. I had little compassion for public transport riders until our 4 mile trek took us 4 hours to complete, tried to explain landpoints to a non speaking English person because tickers don’t exist and route maps don’t show needed stops.
Unless we consciously choose different, how we LOVE, how we LIVE, what we BELIEVE, is what we were taught as kids.
What the refugees and the homeless and the boy down the street need is not more shoes.
More stuff we want to discard from our overstuffed homes.
Instead what they need, what we all need from each other, is simply our time.
Reach out today and spend time with someone who believes different than you, looks different than you, lives life different than you.
It’s rarely convenient. There is a good chance it requires a drive across a bridge to the other side of town. That other side of town.
Or it might be as simple as walking across your backyard and inviting the lonely widow to a meal at your house, you know – the grouchy lady who hates it when your kids’ baseball gets in her yard.
Perhaps it is as grandiose as stopping on the side of the road to help immigrant Mexican’s with their stranded car, you with your sniffling nose and tired eyes from lack of sleep.
It can be as easy as encouraging your children to befriend the kid whose skin doesn’t match their own.
Loving others who believe different, look different, live life different –
in the end, you are the one with a transformed life.