The news headline had stopped me in my tracks. Another senseless tragedy, but this time, the victims’ only crimes were that their names and faces mirrored my own. As the initial shock began to fade, my stomach tightened. Sorrow and anger came in waves as I came to grips with the facts of the tragedy. And I felt very alone.
6,225 miles separated me from my community in my passport country. 6,225 miles from the people with whom I would have to offer no explanation for my grief and trauma. 6,225 miles from the ones who were walking through the pain with me, each in their own ways. 6,225 miles from the comfort of solidarity in our suffering.
As I felt the heaviness and loneliness of being so far removed from my home community, I received a text. “Such terrible things happening against Asian-Americans. How are you doing?” My friend in Hungary had been paying attention to US news and had recognized the impact of that day’s events on me. She didn’t ask me for explanations or a course of action; she simply invited me to notice and share my feelings. She had seen me and had chosen to connect with me, to share a burden she could have chosen to ignore.
Many of us are familiar with the stereotype of out-of-touch global workers. The ones with outdated hair and clothes, who have no clue about the latest music or trends. But our charge to keep current is not simply to keep up with the times or to keep up with the Jones’. Our charge is to love God and love others, and when we are engaging with our communities and aware of the things that impact those around us, we have greater opportunities to love. We are better equipped to find the places where God may want to break in, just as Jesus broke into our world, into a specific culture and context.
When my sweet friend texted me that day, I felt seen and loved. I felt a gentle reminder from God that I was not alone. And I was so grateful that my friend had been paying attention.
ACTION: Think about the people in your communities. What are some issues that may impact them that do not directly impact you? How might you pay better attention? Are there blogs, news networks, YouTube channels, or podcasts that may help raise your awareness?