,Twice in my life I've been able to visit countries where English was not the first language. In most of the visited cities, it wasn't even the second. I'm not sure if you've had such an opportunity, but it's exciting and scary at the same time. Will I get lost? Will I wind up in a not so friendly location? Will I be able to read signs, order from a menu, find a public restroom? Unsettling, at least for me. Before going on these trips I tried to learn some basic speech phrases, all for naught. Apparently neither French or Spanish are my second language, as I thought I ordered spaghetti and got brains. Yuck.
This week has been a weird one. It started with a full moon, and every night I dreamt about a person or pet who has died. One, just one, every single night. The headlines in the news and the comments on social media have put everyone's emotions high and opinions bold, including mine. This morning I woke in my warm house, used my bathroom, made my way to let the dog out, gave the pets their breakfast, poured my coffee and added my cream, all in a completely silent house. Settled back on my bed and got my reading materials together, covered with my comforter, and was ready for my morning God time.
Can you picture it? The ability and means to start my day, pretty much every day, this way? But today, instead of starting with my online Bible study, I went to Facebook, only to see a friend’s post and a photo detailing her night. She lives on the Mexico/US border and she was on a plane as part of her job. A plane full of refugees from around the globe. She expressed how there was confusion as many didn't even know where to sit, but eventually a couple and their baby sat next to her. They asked her if she knew Spanish, as they were from Chile, and God in his infinite wisdom, made sure they sat next to someone who did. Questions were answered about connecting flights, and my friend was able to find out that the only possession they had was the food in a bag they were given.
Let's stop here for a moment. Walk in their shoes. Use your imagination and see. You're a parent with a baby in a foreign land, not knowing the language, or even if where you are going is safe. But, you're willing to go there because you heard it's safer than from where you came. It's a gamble. A giant crap shoot. You traveled thousands of miles, probably many of those on foot, into the complete unknown. All because of this thing called hope.
Now granted, evil exists and will use every opportunity to invade our minds, our hearts, and even our country. That's just the reality of living in a sin-filled world. But what we need to do is dig past what the world is screaming, which is mainly fear and anger, and see humanity. You know, the beings who were created in the image of God.
Growing up I had a violent, fear-filled childhood. I didn't choose that. I'd never choose that, even for my enemy. Pretty much every day I lived in fear. I was envious of friends who had a peaceful and "normal" home. I'd spend as much time as I could with them, just for moments of laughter and rest. I guess in a way you could say I was a refugee. Leaving a place I was plopped down into, a place of instability and loose footing at best, seeking a place to just live a bit better. And as a parent, isn't that all we want for our children? A bit better?
I've got to be honest, my friend expressed that her emotions were all over the place with this encounter, and regarding this crisis, mine are too. But probably unlike her, mine tend to go from "please come live with me" to "there is a right way and a wrong way and the wrong way, the illegal way, tells me something about your character and I don't like you." There. I said it. My dark side creeps in and rather than consult God on how I should respond, my flesh jumps on the mob mentality bandwagon. But the good news for me is, I at least recognize my dark side.
I will be processing my friend's story for a while. Especially when the news conference says "all the Haitians have been sent away and there are no more refugees under the bridge. 15,000 are no longer here. Zero." Instead of feeling emboldened or positive about this, I need to question my heart. I need to walk in their shoes, the best I can. I need to ask, "what would Jesus do?" I need to lose my life to find it. I need to not listen to Satan's whispers that my hard earned money will now be supporting these "illegals" instead of my family. I need to tune out when he says I will be assaulted or even killed as many entering are evil. I need to touch my soft comforter, sip my flavorful coffee, pet my cat, fluff my pillow, feel my furnace, and wonder why I'm so blessed, when others sleep in airports with their baby and only one bag of food, not being able to communicate. Can you even imagine their level of fear and confusion?
No wonder our emotions are all over the place. We are judging people we've never even met, based on half-known truths we're being fed. Perhaps it's time to change to a healthier diet. One where I decide what's healthy. One where God leads me, not man. It is overwhelming to me, I can't imagine what it's like for them. This should make me weep, not hate. I actually do both, sometimes in the same sentence. All this tells me I am both spirit and flesh, and the war for my soul is really what's on the line. The battle rages, but I get to decide who wins. The decision is mine alone.
It took a friend on a plane to get me to step back and realize there's always more to a story. So as you enjoy the comforts of your day today, from toothpaste to socks, from coffee to dessert, from laundry to a house to clean, pause. Pause and be that mom holding her baby on a plane traveling into the complete unknown, and say a prayer for her. And give thanks that you aren't her. Only because of Jesus' grace and mercy on your life.