Thursday, June 11, 2015

Speed demon

No, this isn't a post about being pulled over again by police 
for driving too fast;
although I have been because I do.

I'm talking about the time it takes for me 
to see something 
and make a judgment about it.

It's about a heartbeat long;
literally the blink of an eye.

And, from conversations with the other participants on Mission,
I know I'm not alone.

Misery does NOT love company.

I wish the 'mean girl' from junior high,
the one who lives inside of me; 
the one always ready to judge others,
 to make fun of someone else,
that girl;
I wish she'd grow up 
and be more like the Christian she likes to believe she is.

I see houses
and make judgments about the people living there;
rating their work ethic,
their sense of personal responsibility,
their education level,
and their 'worthiness' of being helped.
I don't have to have conversations with them;
I don't have to see them as 'real people';
I know 'them'; 
I know 'their kind'.

And, most importantly, 
I know they're not like me.

The only problem is,
then you come on Mission trip
and see a house where a single mom lived;
a house she'd inherited from her grandfather;
the house in which she was raised
when she was taken away from her parents
due to their substance abuse;
the house where she'd planned to raise children
with her husband.

 The house where,
while her children slept,
she dreamed of an easier and better life for them
than the one she'd had.

Until alcohol and drugs changed the man she married;
until he became abusive to her and their children;
until she kicked him out to save them all.

As anyone could have predicted,
he didn't like that.
He came back;
breaking out every window,
dowsing all their possessions in a toxic brew of kerosene and urine
threatening to kill her.
He's in jail now.
Their children have been placed in 'the system'
because she couldn't provide a stable home.

She's starting all over.
She's 3 credits shy of graduating from the University.
She has great potential;
she's determined to make it.

She's scared.
even if her story is not MY story;
even if her issues were not my issues,
I remember being a single mom.
I remember starting over.
I remember being scared.
The man who brought us to the house today
wasn't asking for donations for her,
although he wouldn't have turned them down.

It's just that he's watched her grow up;
he believes in her
and what she can become.

He brought us there to remind us
that every house we see on the reservation
tells a story;
a story of broken relationships,
of pain
and of hopelessness.
A story of people who are prisoners of circumstance
and so overwhelmed that,
at this point in their lives,
they can't do it without help from others.

It took about the length of a heartbeat for me to realize
that makes them exactly like me.

He thanked us 
and reminded us 
that our being here is changing their stories.

Little did he know, 
it's changing ours too.

And, for some of us,
it happened in the blink of an eye.

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