A few years ago, one of our children lied and said I was abusing them because they were so homesick for Ethiopia. Not comprehending how love and family worked, they figured if they made things hard enough for us, we'd put them on a plane and send them back. As Child Protective Services opened a full-fledged investigation on me, they threatened not to take this singular child from us, but remove all our children from my care.
I cannot even begin to explain the loss and fear surrounding my heart at the idea of that possibility. Thankfully, these amazing individuals whose job is solely to ensure the safety and well-being of children ultimately saw through this lie and found a happy, safe, and thriving family...and a child with trauma who was struggling in a very significant way.
A parent's worst nightmare
As we know though, our outcome isn't the reality of other families. While watching the news and seeing images of children and parents ripped from one another's arms, I think back on those weeks of panic, dread, and fear. It's a parent's worst nightmare...and every child's greatest horror. And yet it's actually occurring right here in our country. Shoving aside all politics, we're all heartbroken and enraged that our greatest terror is happening right now....at this very moment.
While chatting with a friend today, I was reminded of a section of my book and how pertinent it feels right now in light of the story that is unfolding between us and Mexico....
Last summer, our oldest son Abreham (then 17), worked at a car wash. It wasn’t particularly close to our house and he had yet to get his driver’s license
so he took the light-rail each day. While walking
under the overpass that led to where he’d buy
his ticket and hop on the train, he’d often see a
homeless man. Day after day, he’d smile and say
hello as he passed the man. One morning though,
Abreham was struck with the realization that this man had a story,
and, just like the rest of us, he needed hope and community.
Stopping to have a conversation with him, my teenage son wanted
to know the narrative that was this man’s life.
According to the man, he struggled with family issues and since he was relatively new to
our country, he didn’t have a community or anyone to go to. This
man came into our country legally, but no one wanted to hire a dirty
homeless man who didn’t speak English well. The Lord spoke to my
son’s heart that day and urged him to buy the hungry man breakfast
at the nearby McDonald’s as well as a ticket for the light-rail. Why
the train ticket? Because Abreham was determined to get him a job
at the car wash. And you know what? He did. And it wasn’t the only time our oldest son did something like this.
Abreham didn’t work at that car wash for more than a few months, yet when he’d hear of
someone who couldn’t find a job, he’d tell them to come by and tell
his boss that he was the one who sent them. He did the same thing
for a friend’s sixty-five-year-old mother who came over from Ethiopia
and also hardly spoke any English. He knew fluency wasn’t a prerequisite
to wash a car. He dove into these people’s stories, knowing each
was different, and because he listened to the Lord’s prompting, he
helped change the narrative in their lives.
How often do we do something like this? I’ll admit . . . I never
have to the extent Abreham has. Maybe it’s a different type of bravery
that I haven’t tapped into yet, but watching my son sure has made me
pay closer attention to how I can also enter into the stories of people
I encounter each and every day.
Where is God in all this?
I remember awhile back someone
telling me she struggled with all the devastation we hear about every
day in the news: human trafficking, the global water crisis, children
dying from hunger, domestic violence, and so many more horrible
things. As she shared this struggle, she asked, “Where is God in all of
this?” The other woman with us looked at her and gently said, “What
if that’s why we’re here? What are you doing about it?”
Gosh her comment woke me up: What am I doing about it? I can’t complain and
yet do nothing.
Sometimes God walks us through the valley, or through seasons
in general, to show us something. Perhaps Abreham’s short time at
that car wash was just to help this man. Maybe my friend was struggling
with all that she saw on the news because the Lord wanted her to
wake up and take action.
Are we entering into the stories of others, or just regurgitating what we're hearing? Are we stepping in and truly making a difference in the lives of others around us?
My friend felt angry and wondered where God was in all she saw around her, maybe you wonder the same thing. But you know what? Perhaps the reason your emotions are running high is because the Lord is asking you to be the difference-maker.
As a mom of children with trauma...
Helping these children is paramount. As it is, the trauma of being taken from their families and placed basically in huge warehouses full of other children, will be something that will follow them for years to come. It's an atrocity. As a mom of children with trauma, I can tell you how significant it is and how it swirls around in so many aspects of their lives.
During one of our trips to Ethiopia, we encountered about a thousand people in a haphazard line that wound itself around buildings and down the block. These folks looked weary and exhausted. It was obvious that they had stood in line a significant amount of time...hours, even overnight. Why? Because they were trying to receive permission to come to the US. I was embarrassed and even a bit angry at the realization that I got to skip the entirety of this massive queue, as were our Ethiopian children because we were already granted an appointment to receive a Visa and passport for our newest little loves. These people must stand in the heat, with their children, haphazard tents but mostly no covering from the elements, limited access to food and water, and wait for days...with only a chance to be granted permission to come to our country.
Again, putting politics aside...this post isn't about that.
This is about the people.
Just like it made me sad, embarrassed, and angry that I got to go to the front of the line, I'm also sad and angry that these dedicated Ethiopians (and others like them worldwide) often don't get to come to our great country...and yet because Mexico is our neighbor, they are able to scootch themselves on in.
I'm not saying the Mexican community shouldn't be here, of course, I'm not. What I am saying, however, is that while thousands of individuals throughout the world have no other option than going through the proper channels to start a life in the US and yet others sneak in, we're all wanting a better life for our children. And with that as our focal point, we need to stand beside those who cannot fight for themselves and get these children back in the arms of their parents.
Put away your politics, put away your social media rants.
Don't get angry and yet do nothing to affect change.
Let's help these children. Contact your legislator today.
Be a Difference-Maker.