It is always good to go away, but then it’s always good to be back home in your own bed in your own surroundings and most of all in your own comfort zone.
I was with women of all walks, all ages, and from all over the states. It was great to be with them, to share their stories, and to hear about their faith walks. I think you must mellow out the older you get; maybe you even get a little wiser. This weekend we had conversations on numerous topics that is concerning to the world right not. One of them was social injustice. This is a topic I often stay away from, but was challenged to deal with this weekend.
My roommate and I had difference of opinions when it came to some areas of the conversation. We live in the same area, she is about 8 or 9 years older than I and we have a lot in common. What I found out was we were raised in different areas, in different circumstances and with situations that were very different. Being older than I she was on a campus teaching when there was a lot of social unrest and a lot of marches and protests. She was in the middle of it all. She understood where they were coming from and had empathy for those on her campus. She,also being a teacher in a college,stood her ground. I was never exposed to those marches or protests one,because of where I lived and two, because of my age. It didn’t affect us so it wasn’t talked about or we didn’t experience it like my roommate. Her opinions were developed as she witnessed and was exposed to things I had never been exposed to. It did make me realize that through her telling her story I could understand where she was coming from and understand there are always two sides of the same story. I couldn’t judge her because her experiences were far different from mine.
I was with another lady who talked about having yachts and sailing around the world. I later talked to her friend who said she had lived a very lavish lifestyle. All of her life she was pampered and was living a life I could only dream about or read in books. Later on in life her husband developed Alzheimer’s and they lost everything. She had to have help to keep her home so she would not be homeless, but most of her life now is dependent on working (this lady is in her 80’s) and keeping her home. She has no extra money for extra things. She went from one extreme to just the opposite. She is a beautiful woman and well dressed, speaks well, and presents herself in a way that represents her past life. I will have to admit when I first met her I was a bit intimidated by this woman. Now as I hear her story I can empathize with her. My mom had that same terrible disease and like this woman my dad did all he could to make life comfortable for my mom and even spent money trying to find a cure for her. He used natural, organic pills and took her to hospitals and did all he could for her. Through this lady’s story I could understand where she was coming from.
A friend of mine is a beautiful spirited lady, rarely does laugh. She smiles, is friendly, but seldom have I heard her really laugh. We were together and I was telling her some of the comical comments my husband had recently made. She laughed! I mean she laughed. I went on to tell her of some more of the comical things he has said or done and she really laughed and enjoyed me sharing. As I finished she said laughter was not in her household. Her dad never told a funny joke or did anything funny, and apparently neither did her mom. She had two sisters who never did either. She is married to a wonderful man that is very Godly and philanthropic. He is always helping others, but she said he has never told a joke or laughed. I thought how sad to never have laughter in your household. I grew up where laughter was an everyday occurrence. We laughed all the time; even in death. We laughed at the memories that had been made and the stories of our loved ones and the fun times. My mom (who is a lot like me) was the cut up of the family. My brother told one joke after another; I really think he could have become a comedian. Laughter was just part of our home. Now I understand my friend’s demeanor better. I understand where she is coming from.
Now I know you are wondering if there is a point to all of this. Yes, there is. One of the classes I took we talked about sharing your story. As I was thinking about this I honestly believe we do not share our stories enough. We do not share where we come from, how we lived and what our parents taught us to believe. We meet someone and if they are different than us we begin judging them before we hear their stories or before we know their journey. We cannot begin to understand what someone is going through if we don’t know where they have been.
As I sat and listened to the stories of social injustice I realize I cannot fully understand because I have not walked in their shoes. I am a white woman with many privileges. My colored folk friends have some of the same privileges I do, but other privileges are not given to them or in the same way as I experience. I was told about a lady of color who was at a conference. Because she was colored and the majority of those at the conference were white the young attendant at the hotel thought she had signed up for a wrong conference. Later the same day a person stepped out of their room while she was walking the hallway to her room and asked if she would get them more towels. Where she comes from is different from where I come from because of different experiences and backgrounds. She shared her story and I began to get a glimpse into her world.
We need to start having conversations and not confrontations. We need to start sharing our stories so others can get a glimpse into our journey. The whole weekend as I sat and listened I kept thinking God calls us to look into the heart of someone not their shape, color, or their heritage. We need to see people through God’s eyes. “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 It’s not about judging it’s about looking into the heart of the one that God loves.
God gave us this new command, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35) Nowhere does it say we get to pick and choose who we love. We are to love one another and that means the one that is different from you, the one you don’t understand, the one that makes you uncomfortable and the one you disagree with.
Is there someone you have trouble loving? Do you know their story? Do you know their journey? Maybe it’s time you stopped and had conversation over food or coffee or tea and listened to their story; listen as they share their journey. Afterwards just maybe you will have a different perspective and loving them will come natural to you. Try it my friend, what do you have to lose?
One last thing; I want to share this call to worship with you. I found it years ago and I love it.
I am God’s Child!
I may be white…I may be black…
I may be uptight, but I am still God’s child.
I may be rich…I may be poor.
I might be exciting…I might be a bore;
But I am still God’s child!
I may be big…I may be small…
I might be going out…I might be coming in;
But never defeated, because I am God’s child!
I am God’s child!!
Dear Precious God, remind me all people make a difference and you love all of us. Teach me to ask questions and not to judge. Help me to listen to the stories that others share and help me to understand their journey. Most of all help me to love and see others through your eyes. Help me to reach out to others who are different, who may make me uncomfortable and let me love them. Thank you God for loving me. I am your child! Amen
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