Friday, April 25, 2014

Open My Eyes

Is it possible to be blind to things right in front of you?

I think so.

God is slowly revealing some of those things to me using my son's best friend and his family.  I'll tell you ahead of time, this is not a political post, so if you have opinions different than mine, please be courteous as to how you address those.

My son's best friend is Hispanic.  Perhaps I should say Mexican, because he literally came from Mexico.  Go ahead, roll your eyes and start murmuring about immigration reform.  I don't know if he's here legally or not.  I don't really care.  What I do know is that behind those eye rolls is a little boy and his family.  One that a few months ago I may have been sitting back murmuring about.  I love how God uses our prejudices to change us.

I would've been the one saying tighten border security, have stricter punishments, etc.  But now, that's all secondary.  And for the record, I'm not supporting illegal immigration.  What I am supporting is understanding.  Stepping out of our comfort zones to love those that are different than us.  Showing the love of Christ without condemnation.

I think we're too focused on everything that's secondary instead of on seeing the souls right in front of us.

He has a smile that lights up the room.  Big brown eyes.  Jet black hair.  The cutest little (okay, significant) accent.  And if I didn't know better, I'd say Anna has a crush on his older brother.

He calls Eli his brother and Anna and Emi his sisters.  He says he's mine, that him and his brother are my other 2 kids, and he always says it with a devilish little grin that I can't help but smile back at, particularly because my mom has always said she thought #3 and #4 were both boys.

How can a matter of 3 months change me so?

Because when we let Him, God will open our eyes and show us things beyond our understanding.

Things like what it's like for a little boy and his family to live in Mexico.  Stories of their dog being killed.  Stories of being separated as they came here .  Stories of what it's like to live here and how much more they love it.

I see them every morning as I walk the kids to school.  We walk past their house and they join us and if by chance they're not out yet, you can almost guarantee to hear his little voice a few steps behind "Eli, Eli!  Wait up" and so we do.  Each morning their mom stands on the porch and waves them off to school.  And each morning she waves to us with a smile and one of the few English phrases she knows "Good morning."  I wave back and smile.  Because our smiles unite us.  Isn't it amazing that despite cultures and languages and whatever other barriers there may be that a smile is universal?

Each afternoon, Eli rushes home, through the house, out the back door, and straight to the fence in the back yard waiting for his buddy to appear.  And sure enough, there he is.  My heart smiles a little each time I see them talking through the fence.  He spends quite a bit of time over here.  So one night I decided since I was working on spelling words with Eli, that I'd work with him too, bribing them with mint M&M's for each word they spelled correctly.  It quickly became apparent that he was struggling.  Not thinking too much of it, I put it in the back of my head.  Then a few weeks later at Parent Teacher conferences, his teacher (also Eli's) was telling us how much Eli has been good for him.  How he behaves better and how he's doing better in school.  She asked me if I would read with him when he came over.  I agreed.  And now here we are reading and working on sight words multiple nights each week.  And you know what?  He was so proud when he made a 100 on one of his tests.  It's not about me.  It's really not.

It IS about what God is doing.

He's using him to show me how prejudiced I had been.  He's showing me that if I had a bad life and moved to another country to have a better life for my family that I would do the exact same thing they did - find a Hispanic community and operate and function within it.  I would look for the people who spoke English and stay there because that's what I know.  And that's what they do.... because it's what they know.  And unless someone is willing to come alongside them and work with them, that's what they'll always do.  Would I have ever thought I'd volunteer to tutor a Hispanic student?  No.  But I love it.  I love seeing him make progress and the pride on his face when he tells me he made a good grade.

Is it a bit chaotic around here at times?  You betcha.  But there's purpose in the chaos.  There's education.  There's fun and laughter.  There's him and his brother testing me to see if I know how to say something in Spanish and then being surprised when I do.  And when I don't, they teach me, repeating it over and over until I get it down.  There's them being curious and trying foods I make and being surprised they like my American version of chicken enchiladas.  There's my being excited when his brother tells me he won his baseball game and giving him a "way to go!"

There's me learning that setting boundaries is okay and also learning that there's give and take.  There's me learning that while they're over here studying that their mom is having to haul laundry to the laundry mat .... the one in the not so nice part of town..... because they don't have a washer and dryer.  There's me learning their dad is still in Mexico.  Then crying for them after they left.

I sat down at the piano after I put the kids to bed and began playing as I often do.  And as I sang, tears filled my eyes again:

Open the eyes of my heart Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You

And all my heart could echo was Yes, Lord.  Open my eyes.

Open my eyes to those around me that need Your love.
Open my eyes to the fact that people just down the road live vastly different than we do.
Open my eyes to the needs of people all around me.
Open my eyes to my prejudices and remove them piece by piece.
Open my eyes more and more so that I can see You in and through every situation.

Yes, Lord.  Open my eyes.

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