When I was in my early 20’s, I spent two weeks in the heart of Mexico–Cuernivaca–for an immersion course as part of my graduate studies.
It was a formative trip for me in several ways. On a surface level, I had never traveled internationally with strangers before, and I realized the tremendous value of being able to walk through new experiences with people you love! On a deeper level, I treasured the slice of knowledge I gained about the culture and history of Mexico, including the long-storied relationship between them and the United States. I learned about the economic troubles, the civil unrest in its history, the seclusion and poverty of life in the rural areas, and the influence of American culture into the far corners of their land.
I remember clearly an old woman who came to speak (through a translator) to us eager-eyed grad students one evening. Although she had never been afforded the chance to pursue a formal education, this woman wowed us with her poise, her wisdom and her faith. She was a person who was not defined by her circumstances. She taught me more that evening than my professors would the entire trip.
I saw the hand of God that night, as he worked through that woman to reveal some misunderstandings I held about the world around me (however faulty and subconscious they were). I was rocked a bit. The construct of white, middle-class America came screaming down all around me. The individuals I met during that trip put faces to the suffering and injustice in our world, and they changed my mind and heart for good.
It was God’s grace that opened my eyes to my blind spots during those two weeks. I grew in understanding, compassion and love. He was in the process of changing me to be more like him.
As we look to 2020, we are experiencing many new things. We see people close to us suffering from a disease for which we don’t have access to the cure, we see neighbors struggling to make ends meet, we see acts of hatred based on skin color or profession… and it rocks us.
Let this be a good thing. Let this be a good thing that we are rocked. Let our hearts and minds be open to what the Lord wants to do in the rocking. Our world has been rocked this year, and some of the constructs we had are falling down all around us. Let us be eager to learn in this season.
What blindspots might God be revealing? What false assumptions were we unknowingly holding on to as truths? What does God want to cultivate in us?
May it be more compassion, more empathy, more understanding, and more love. Let us grow in those things to our brothers and sisters here and around the world.
“And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13