Today was a very long day.
We had all kinds of grand plans and things to check off, little room for error, leaving our house early in the day and not returning until late.
As I sat with the littles at lunch in the midst of our activities, I told them to eat plenty. “And let’s refill your drinks. It’s going to be a really long day.”
Cooter, age six, piped up, “Is it the summer solstice?”
Well, that one caught me off guard. He cracks me up and amazes me with the random stuff he knows.
“Well, no it’s not, but you are right—that is the longest day of the year. Umm, where did you learn about the summer solstice?”
Without looking up from the chip he was carefully dipping in queso, he said, “Oh, Phineas and Ferb.”
Well, thank you, Disney Channel.
I decided to jump on that teachable moment. I checked the clock. I had a few minutes before we had to leave for our next destination.
“So if the summer solstice is the longest day of the year, what is the winter solstice?”
They said in unison, “The shortest day of the year.”
And that’s how we get things done in homeschoolin’.
As I drove to meet with my Sister Circle, a group of women who are either homeless or in transition, I thought about what would have been my longest day. Everyday of the year is long for them, it doesn’t matter how much sunlight there is—trying to stay safe from the elements and the people who would harm them or use them for their personal gain. I just don’t even know y’all. The things we do to each other. Breaks. My. Heart.
I sat with these women, from the age of my oldest child to old enough to be my mother, and we talked about grace. And how, for some of them, the people in their lives who should have had their best interests in mind, just don’t. Or how they immediately feel judged when they go in someplace…..one sweet girl mentioned the church she attends. Oh. Just no. Please tell me that you feel accepted there, of all places, but no. I asked her what she does with the pain from that. “I just give it to God ’cause I sure can’t handle it myself.” For the love of God, what is happening? I guess that’s it. Sometimes we forget that loving God means loving all. That’s a scary thing. And a sweet lady whom I remember from our Sunday night suppers…..she said she just doesn’t talk to anybody, stays to herself, so that way no one has anything to give her a hard time about or to judge. Oh, the brokenness. We are driving people away from God’s church, from our community, from being with folks in relationships at all…..all because we perceive them to be different and don’t mind them knowing it.
I love Bob Goff, author of Love Does. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about. He gets it. Today I heard story after story of how these women depend on God or how Jesus will get them through it. One really, really needs housing. A place she can lay her head and be SAFE. When I mentioned talking to one of the administrators at the shelter, she said, “Naw, it’ll be okay. I know God’s got this.”
I don’t mean to say that God doesn’t have it, but maybe, just maybe, we are the answer He has in mind. Or a part of the answer. And maybe talking with the administrators would be part of His plan. I get why she is leaning solely on God though. Because those of us who should be “Jesus with skin on” for her have let her down. By judging, by looking away, by thinking God or the government or the churches or the folks who volunteer every week GOT THIS. I don’t have to…..
Let me say this. This problem is bigger than that. Truth. This problem of the unhoused and the unfed and the unheard and the unsafe–this problem of all this brokenness is so big it will take all of us to change it. We have to change our attitudes and look outside our four walls and comfort zones and reach out to the folks in need.
If only with a hug, that’s a start.
My daughter shared this quote with me last week. Ain’t it the truth? Boy I wish I could just sit back and “rest on my laurels,” as Mama used to put it. But I don’t have any to rest on. So it’s time for me to get uncomfortable. And do more than just sit and listen to these stories. I want to make it possible for their stories to have chapters on healing and on acceptance and love. And to ban the stories of rejection and judgment, pain and hurt from ever happening again. Not on my watch.
To start, let’s begin by looking and seeing and hearing and loving, and make the long days for these beautiful women and all those without homes or in transition a little shorter by walking alongside them, a little brighter, a lot safer, and filled with love and grace. There are so many programs and different ways to make a positive change–local Salvation Army programs, spouse abuse shelters, after school youth programs. Donations and volunteers are needed in food pantries and clothing closets. Tutors and storytellers are needed in schools. Day shelters need folks to help with laundry and showers. They too need donations of supplies and snacks. Most importantly, each person you meet in your day wants–NEEDS–to feel worthy and to be seen as such.
How are you being called out of your comfort zone?
We’re all in this together. WE GOT THIS.