One of my favorite bloggers, Emily Freeman, talks about paying attention to what makes you cry. As if our tears are tiny little messengers from within our souls. This idea has made me extra aware anytime the tears flow and it’s not completely obvious to me why. So what has me crying these days? Besides the new show This is Us on NBC.
After following Shannan Martin’s blog for a few years and then being on her launch team for her new book, my perspective on who my neighbor is really began to shift. I have been so challenged recently to look at my life and see who do I spend time with that is different than me. Not just taste in food or music but someone who has grown up in a different socioeconomic class, someone of a different race or someone with a different world view.
I was ashamed at how small the list was/is. It became so clear that I wanted that to change. I wanted to draw a wider circle and get to know people who weren’t like me. No matter how uncomfortable it might be.
Over the summer I saw a neighbor post a need for mentors for single moms who have aged out of foster care. I immediately threw my name in the hat. And it wasn’t long after that I was matched with Natalie (changing her name for her privacy).
A couple months later and we have exchanged hundreds of text messages, pictures of her ADORABLE son and meals together. When we got together I would mostly just listen to all of her problems–and at times it became overwhelming. Sometimes to the point where it felt unbelievable.
But they were real, honest hardships that I couldn’t relate to. From the day she was born to a drug addicted mother and a father arrested on sexual charges, her life would be and is a constant battle. She has had to fight and overcome so many things that I couldn’t imagine. Her corner of support included her aunt who passed away a few years ago, leaving her even more alone.
It would take me a long time to share with you all the things about her story that make me weep. All the broken pieces that tear me to shreds. There are so many stories like hers out there–and I encourage you to find them and listen to them. And even if you can’t relate–pray for understanding and compassion. And just love. She text me today that she is moving immediately. Leaving on a jet plane tonight to live with her God Mama who might be the only positive person I have heard her talk about beside her aunt that passed a while back.
And the tears began to form as we text back and forth. So I thought to myself–what is about her that makes me cry? Of course her story and the pain I know she carries with her make me sad but I am also grieving her departure from my life because she made me better. She opened my eyes to see things I have overlooked and has given me a deeper compassion to understand those different than me.
I will miss her here but I am so thankful she is going to be living with someone who loves her and can help her raise her son. I am grateful to know that just because our friendship might look different than what is has been, it doesn’t have to end. But mostly I am weepy because I am excited to continue to pursue relationships with people different than me.
I want to keep drawing a wider circle.