Hayden and I shared the devotional this morning and shared a story of two men passing by two other young men who were hungry and strangers in a new town. As one man passed them, he gave them some money, but his friend got down on their level, looked into their eyes, and extended them dignity by asking their name and their story. We spoke on the verse Matthew 9:13 that reads: “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” A great explanation we read of this was that if we move beyond what we feel obligated to give, we leave religion behind and develop true relationships. It’s in the relationships that we develop that we truly show and feel God’s love for us. We all have a story. These women, men, and children have a story. We may not be able to understand their story, we may not even be able to process all they have been through, but language barrier or not, we can extend them the dignity of looking in their eyes, asking their names and letting them know their story matters. They matter.
The woman in the picture you see in this post is Nancy. She approached me at the distribution today and told me of her troubles in broken English. As she shifted her child around I could tell something was wrong with the baby. He was 21 months old and a twin. His twin sibling, who had been the healthy one, passed away at 9 months. Reagan, this baby she held in her arms was suffering from spina bifida and was paralyzed. She graciously let me hold her sweet child as Jennifer translated for me to learn more about her situation. No power for 2 months, her child would not eat, and her husband had left due to the embarrassment he felt for having a child with a disability.
Today that sweet child received a bed to lie on. No it’s not the medical care we have at our fingertips back home, it’s not the power that most of us forget some can’t flip a switch to get, and it wasn’t the proper nutrition for her child that we walk into a store and pick up each day…but it was a start. You could see the pain and hurt in her eyes. You could hear the worry in her voice, and you could feel the desperation of her heart. Nancy was just one story of desperation, sorrow, and sadness that would repeat itself throughout the day.
They deserve for their stories to be told. We all deserve our stories to be told. It only takes one person to listen to make a difference. I ask you to lift up Nancy and Reagan in prayer tonight and every night. And no, you don’t need to go halfway around the world to hear someone’s story. I’ll bet that there is someone very close to you that is just waiting for ears to listen and a heart to feel moved. I ask that you pray that you will hear someone’s story that needs to be told. Pray that you will look into their eyes and open your heart to feel empathy and compassion, and that you leave them better than when you found them.
Allyson Schwab, Sweet Sleep team member