"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Thursday, September 3, 2015

On Aylan and Hard Things...

As I sat in the bathtub tonight, trying to soak away all the hard parts of the day, I realized how little I understood hard. My hard was an eight year old with a bad attitude and the seemingly hormonal reactions of an emerging teenager. My hard was a whiny three year old who wanted to use a sharp knife to cut his meat and wouldn’t stop tantruming about it. My hard was a one year old who wanted to be carried around all day. But, then I thought about the mama on the other side of the world whose hard was words I cannot even begin to fathom. Persecution. Death. Destruction. Her hard was constant warring in her hometown. Her hard was making the choice to seek safety across the turbulent waters on a journey towards freedom. Her hard was watching her babies go under after the boat that promised hope and a future capsized. Her hard was breathing her last breath as she was swept under in a sea of despair. Her hard was her baby’s lifeless body washing up to shore for all the world to see so that other mama’s like me could finally realize that I don’t know hard.

My privileged American existence has insulated me in so many ways from the true hard things of this world. I will never ache in the depths of my soul as I watch my child hungry and listless from malnutrition. I will never experience the groaning of a mother who cannot afford the needed basic medical care to keep her child alive. I will never shutter at the sounds of gunfire or bombs exploding outside my window and be forced to make a choice to run from battles waged around me. I will never be exploited or abused just because someone can. I don’t know hard.
Yet, I’ve noticed a trend with my fellow mamas, sequestered in a bubble in which our hardest places are whether to homeschool, public school or private school, whether to work or not, whether to do organic and natural or processed and fast or some mixture of the two, we create our own false sense of hard.
The thing I see in myself and my friends is that every complaint, fear, and stressor is almost always self-induced. We hem and haw over things that are completely and utterly meaningless in the scheme of the world’s pain. Our hard with our children is so often the result of an overindulgence and sense of entitlement that rears its ugly head because we as mamas have overindulged and entitled. Hard is always, always, always a matter of perspective.
So, what do we do as we sit in our comfortable houses with our pretty things and watch a world of fellow mamas throughout the world throbbing in the darkness of poverty, hunger, persecution, abuse, and the like? The short answer: we do something. We start by taking less from the table so there is more to go around. We stop gorging ourselves on the gluttonous feast that is our culture and we give more out of our abundance. We do research. We find people and places on the ground doing the things that will shift the course of history for generations to come. We empower women and give them the opportunities to provide for their children. We leverage all we’ve got: our assets, our paychecks, our circles of influence for doing something. We don’t accept the paralyzing effects of a culture that tells us everything is for the getting and it’s ours for the taking. We don’t sleep at night because we know that one person can change the world and through that ONE, we can too. We mobilize our people and we ignite passion in our community for life outside of our kind of hard, into the kinds of hard we can't begin to understand. The kinds of hard experienced by the majority of the world. We bring to light all the darkness and we just.do.something. We quit giving excuses of I don’t have time or I don’t have money or I’ve got small kids. No, those justifications aren’t going to cut it anymore because we know deep down we can make time, we can spend less, and we can bring them along. We get creative and we think outside the box. We attack the problems from multiple angles and we celebrate when others find their something to do.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline we find throughout the pages of scripture, the act of taking in less so that we can be filled with more. These verses keep coming to the forefront of my mind as all these thoughts have been strewn about the interiors of my heart and mind:
 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
-Isaiah 58:6-11 (NIV)
Loosen the chains of injustice. Set the oppressed free. Share our food. Provide the wanderer with shelter. Give the naked clothes. I don’t know what your something looks like, but I know it’s there. Are you willing to do the work of finding it? If we do it right according to Isaiah, we are going to spend ourselves and that will be hard.
If you’re looking for a place to do something now in regards to the current refugee crisis, consider donating to my favorite resettlement agency, Interfaith Refugee Ministry-Wilmington. Be sure to note on your check or in paypal that you’d like your donation to go to the Wilmington office.


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