Recently I was invited to join a group called South of the Border Bloggers (SOTB), a group of writers who have all had experiences like mine living in Mexico and other countries south of the US border. I have never considered myself a blogger or a writer, but I like the idea of connecting with others who have their own crazy stories to tell and of sharing ideas and thoughts and maybe even support. Each month the group picks one topic to write about and this month, in honor of American (and Canadian?) Thanksgiving they chose the title Giving, Kindness and Acceptance.
Although I don’t have American or Canadian cable TV, I do have Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. I hear what is happening in the world. I know that giving and kindness and acceptance are having a difficult time right now. Definitions are shifting. Opinions about who deserves acceptance and who needs to give it are being debated by politicians and churches. Kindness is being lost in polls and demonstrations and hashtags. They say that the solution to gun violence is not more kindness but more guns and the streams of broken people seeking shelter and safety are not brothers we should give to but invaders coming to take from us. They…. We…. are building walls to separate us rather than bridges to connect us. No, I’m not picking on any one political party – it’s just all of us. We all do it.
I know I do it. One of the things I have struggled with here is looking into the bitter eyes of the children I work with, and not being filled with anger and judgement towards their parents and caregivers. Oh, how I want to judge. Drug addiction, prostitution, poverty, alcoholism, violence, abandonment. So many mistakes that have landed on the shoulders and hearts of these children. It’s not hard to justify my stinkin’ judgey attitude.
This month as I considered this topic and as I considered Thanksgiving, I was reminded that “but for the grace of God go I”. I know how much I have to be thankful for. In fact, every day in 2018 I have been writing in my Lovely List – I have over 950 items now. The hummingbird in the garden today, the laughter with my husband, the help of a friend, the crazy antics of a puppy, a text from a daughter, a really good taco …. So many things to be thankful for. Family and faith and home and my daily bread. But I also recognize that I did nothing to deserve any of it. Where I was born, who I was born to, the education I was given, the security I have always had and always taken for granted…. I did not earn any of it and do not deserve it. Not more than the sweet boy who lives in a one room house in the slums made of tarps, or the 5-year-old who was given an STD by a relative or the young daughter raped by her father who she trusted.
So what does acceptance look like in this place? I don’t think it means that we accept injustice. We must keep fighting that. But I am trying to accept that these parents are doing the very best they can. I accept that they were also broken as children and don’t know how to give love or guidance because they’ve never seen it. I’m trying to believe that it is in the acceptance of the broken, that we can finally get to the giving of the kindness.
So Happy Thanksgiving to my friends North of the Border! Enjoy the turkey and the trimmings and the love of your family. Don’t feel a bit guilty – you have been given a great gift. But please, take a moment to give away some kindness, to offer love and acceptance to someone who might not seem to deserve it. Put the debates on hold and the Facebook rants on silent and the judgements in the trash can – and just go #love someone!
“Freely you have received; freely give” Matthew 10:8