I’m 28, nearing 29. Sometimes that sounds so old and other times it sounds ridiculously young. Sometimes I feel so old- gray haired and weathered- wrinkled with the wisdom of experience. Other times I feel embarrassingly young- squeaky voice, too naïve, always too simple, too trusting, too …dumb.
For the last 10 years I have been involved, in one small way or another, with refugees. Advocating, studying, befriending, volunteering. I’ve spent hours upon hours in the most questionable neighborhoods, sitting on floors and learning people and places. Then, it was never my place to ask why, to decide who got how much help, to allocate limited resources. It was easy. I loved and served them all, equally. I had no official authority over any important issue in their life, so the soliciting was rare and manageable.
And now here I am. In the last year I have learned more, much much more, about this issue. And the more I learn the more I realize how little I know. The longer I am in this job, the more I feel incapable of making the right decisions.
Who deserves help? Who is at risk? Who is telling the truth? Who is most vulnerable? How serious is this?
This weighs so heavy on me.
At every turn there is a heart breaking story, and right around the corner there is a heart breaking story that turned out to be a very masterful lie. I can’t capture in words what’s worse. Crying over these horrific stories, or the pain and relief and the anger and confusion that brings on the tears when it all turns out to be a lie- A desperate attempt, or just an attempt, at a quicker process to get to the land of opportunity.
Again and again I sweat, lose sleep, skip meals, skip other appointments, cry, pray, dream, and worry about these people and their issues. Again and again I am made a fool as the stories unravel and the lies become known.
And yet still, still, I awake and think of these people, these issues. When they come to me, as they do daily, I am ready to listen. I’d like to think I am smarter, a lot more thick-skinned. But still, I’m so often fighting tears on the bus home as I think of the undiagnosed medical issues, the suicide attempts, the sobs of those in the detention center. And then, because this is the way it is, I also think- what if those seizures were faked? What if that suicide attempt was for acceleration? Were those sobs strategically placed for me?
I can not reconcile these things.
How do I love and serve and fight for people every day when so often I am loving and serving and fighting for people who do not need any of those things? How can I tell the difference? And, I tell myself, if someone is so desperate they’ll hurt themselves, or shame themselves, then…they need help, even if not everything they say is the truth.
I am not ready to give up this fight, this passion. So much of my identity has been placed (and found) in serving these people (for the last decade). And maybe that isn’t the best thing, or maybe this is my calling, or maybe I need to go out to the movies more and get pedicures and care a little less about the world. I don’t know.
What I do know is, it is so easy to love and serve people when I deem them worthy of it. But that’s not what Christ called us to do. He also didn’t ask me to be a bleeding heart and a total sucker, either.
Hats off to all you who survive many years and lifelong careers in this field. Every day my hope in humanity soars and plummets, like the rise and fall of my chest.
Learning how to reconcile the deception and the desperation,
Learning how to reconcile the ability for man to survive unspeakable horrors, and for his brother to capitalize on his pain for a step up,
Learning how to reconcile my own privilege that makes me so quick to condemn a person attempting anything to escape a lawless and war torn country-something I could never understand,
Just…learning how to reconcile,