Monday, January 30, 2017

Common Kindness--Love Dispels Fear

    There's a sweet family who lives near me, and they're quite reserved. The mother of the house stood out on her porch one day as I went to check my mail. And just as I waved to her, "a walker"--you know one of those crazy people who walks even in 2-degree weather--came up to me.
    "How can you wave to her?  I, for one, am very scared of that family."
    I felt so much rage boil inside of me.  How can racism still be so prevalent in our society?  I just stared at the "walker," then turned to the sweet woman from Iraq, the lady who still stood on her porch.  "I've been wanting to ask you something." I began walking to her porch, and still talking very loudly said, "Would you like to come over for lunch?"
    The beautiful woman blinked a couple of times, studied my features as if searching for true sincerity, then accepted.
    As I turned back to my house, the "walker" glared at me, and nearly slipped on some ice as she began trekking away.  Good riddance!
     The thing that gets me about the "walker" is that she's tried being so nice to me--quite welcoming in fact; cooked me muffins, invited me to girls' night. She's talked about being religious and how she's trying her hardest to do the right things and live the right way. But like a miser on a hill who believes they have all the answers, she's missing a lot about life.
    I SUCK at religion, and even I knew the way she treated the family on the corner was ridiculous.
    So, the woman from Iraq came over.  We were quiet at first, but soon we had so much to talk about.  We laughed and joked.  She has a bunch of kids, and I have four.  As the lunch went on, I found myself surprised that we really did have so much in common.  It wasn't until the end of the meal that I almost got teary-eyed.
    "I had to quit my job," she said.
    "Really? Why?"
    "The people at the daycare.  Well, they were treating my kids really badly because we aren't from here. My littlest son was having nightmares about them.  Then the kids told him he wasn't allowed to be around the other children, and he should go back to where he belongs."  Her voice shook.  Her beautiful eyes glanced down.  And I didn't know what to do.  "So, I quit my job. And now I stay home with the kids. It's probably better that way--even though sometimes hard things happen at school too."
    I gave her a piece of pie, because I freakin' didn't know what else to do.  She smiled seeing my gesture, and let out a little, darling laugh.
    "Thank you for having me over."
    "Are you kidding!  This is one of the best conversations I've had since we moved to Idaho. It's so nice just talking with another mom who I can relate to."  I took a deep breath, and thought about everything she was going through. There have been some bullies at school, and my kids have definitely met them.  But I couldn't imagine having to protect my kids from the cruel words they might hear from other people every day.  And it wasn't just the cruel words from children, it was the cruel words AND actions from adults.
     She finished her pie and then before leaving, she said, "This was wonderful."  Then she practically floated out the front door--so graceful it stunned me. Cold wind and snow swept into my front room.  I watched her walking toward her house, her taffeta-like dress switching back and forth in the wind. 
    I don't pray as much as I should, but I did then.  I prayed things would get easier for that family, and I thanked God for the fact that--once more--I gotten to know someone who had changed the way I see things.
    Inviting someone to lunch shouldn't be a big deal, but a small action of kindness isn't always so small to those who need it.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has to do with punishment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.