In March 2003, BBC news reported that America was officially at war with Iraq and the international political arena was ablaze. I was working on my Masters degree in Scotland, when a friend and classmate didn’t turn up one day. She was the only Iraqi in the program and I was the only American.
I will never forget the day she sat down at her desk, two weeks later, her jet-black hair now striped with grey down the middle from anxiety and worry and stress. She hadn’t heard from her family since the day the war broke out, she couldn’t get a phone call to go through to every number she knew, and she had no idea where her entire family was, or if they were even alive.
We were the American and the Iraqi in the class, but we were more than that. We were friends.
We grieved the reality of our countries at war. We grieved the loss of her childhood home because of an airstrike and we celebrated that her entire family made it out alive. While the war unfolded on television screens around the world, our classmates watched two girls choosing friendship and love in the midst of war and devastation and division.
Almost 10 years later, I walked out of a marriage and into a Food Lion in January 2012, wearing what felt like a neon sign on my head flashing “I Am Divorced.” While I was picking up groceries for the week, the pieces of what I’d known as life were falling apart.
I didn’t know so many things about the road ahead or where it would lead. I knew I didn’t want to be divorced or be a single-mom, but I also knew that in the truest part of me that exists, I couldn’t live one more day pretending I was happy when I wasn’t, pretending that everything was okay when it wasn’t.
And in that moment and the days and weeks and months and years that I have followed, what I’ve needed and what I’ve found were people willing to see me, to hear my story, to accept my journey – and me – just as I am: beautifully broken and desperately in need of God’s abundant, amazing grace.
There are moments, I think, where we show up with the most authentic, raw, honest, vulnerable self we can find.
And whether life forces us, or we finally muster up enough courage, we lay down our masks and we put aside our pretenses, and like we did when we were making new friends in kindergarten, we say, “Hello, World, this is the truest me that I know and here’s what’s true about the truest me that I know. And here’s where I’m hurting. And here’s what is scary. And here’s what I don’t know. And here’s what makes me feel alive. And now that you know all of those things about me, do you still think I’m okay, do you want to be my friend?”
And in those moments, those holy, sacred, defining moments, there is only one response that will suffice. Only one response that represents what God intended for this world all along: Love.
Let me be a see-er of your people..all of them. Let me be a lover of their souls. Let me see Your goodness in this world through the stories that you are writing with each of our beautiful, original, unmistakable, beautifully broken, here on Earth for such a time as this, lives.