Life with Jesus

It Should Matter to Me

Sometimes, when I am in a crowd,
I try and imagine the complex lives of everyone around me.
I try and remember that these people are not one-dimensional extras in my life.
I try to acknowledge the complexity that everyone around me lives with.

You see that woman right there? The one sweeping the floors.
Her English is not very good, but she takes classes.
She likes all of her teachers, except the Tuesday one that talks too loud and pats her head patronizingly when she gets an answer wrong.
She has three children, all bright and eager to learn and to succeed.
At least for the moment, her dreams for herself have succumbed to her dreams for her children.
She loves to cook with her oldest and pass on family recipes.
She is worried about her husband. He works hard and gets paid very little.
Everyone struggles just to make ends meet.
She was a nurse, in Mexico, and she was good at it.
Her care and love for her patients fed her, made her soar.
Sometimes, while she mops, she tries to recite the names of the bones she learned in anatomy.
She tries to remember when she had wings.
Her life matters to someone.
It should matter to me.

You see that young man there? The one wearing clothes I sometimes associate with guns and drugs and gangs.
He would never miss a Thursday afternoon visit to his grandmother. It is the highlight of her week.
He holds her wrinkled hands and listens to her stories, as history, his history, washes over him.
Every day, after school, his little sister runs to him; he picks her up and swings her around in a circle while she screams with joy.
His dad works hard to provide for their family. He is proud of him.
His parents instilled the importance of education in him. He wants to go to law school.
He works hard at school, even though the building is falling down around him.
Some of his teachers do their best, but it is hard with textbooks that are falling apart and the screech of the metal detectors echoing down the dirty hallway.
He knows sometimes his mother weeps late at night, as she stands over the sink with soapy hands after the dishes are done.
He feels the weight of her fears and knows it’s unjust and wrong that she has to feel that way.
Oh, and his clothes? He likes the way they look.
His life matters to someone.
It should matter to me.

You see that young woman sitting and watching her brothers play? The one in the hijab.
She’s a refugee from Syria.
She had such a happy childhood. She remembers the grove of Aleppo pine trees down the street from her house.
On lazy afternoons, she would skip down there to lay on the ground and watch the clouds roll across the sky.
She felt like she belonged on this earth.
She and her family fled Syria in the dead of night and spent years in a crowded, dusty refugee camp.
While she is happy her family is safe now, she desperately misses home. Not just her physical home, but the feeling home as a place where you know that you just belong.
No stares, no fear of people smashing the windows in their homes because of hate, no one arguing that she shouldn’t be here because she is a terrorist
She misses being understood.
She can’t help but feel like, a thousand miles away, her whole world is crumbling.
Does anyone care?
Her life matters to someone.
It should matter to me.

You see that man over there? The one stocking the shelves.
He is formerly incarcerated. He made some mistakes, got mixed up in drugs, and did his time.
Now, he has a felony record.
It took him months to find this job. He had to find an employer that would look past his history and one that would be flexible with his strict parole requirements.
He is scared he’ll lose it.
He is having a hard time finding a place to live, as discrimination against him, based on his criminal history, is legal.
He wants to go back to school, but his access to loans and scholarships might be limited. He won’t make enough at this job to pay for school.
He knows his family worries about him. He wants to make them proud.
But it’s hard.
Even though he is not physically incarcerated, he sometimes feels like he is still behind bars- invisible ones, hemmed in by laws on one side and labels on the other.
He just wants to be free.
His life matters to someone.
It should matter to me.

These people all around me, they are not clipped from the pages of a magazine to play as actors in my life.
No, they are not political talking points or issues to be discussed. They are not their labels. They are the sum of all of their parts.
They are people.
Complex, well-loved, created-by-God people.

Their lives matter.
They should matter to me.

One thought on “It Should Matter to Me

  1. If they matter to God, they should matter to me. I must get past my own obstructions to see them as God sees them and as you have shown them in this piece. Beautifully written Beth.

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