Who am I: a poem by Rachael Coleman
Blessed to be a combination of my parents heart and faith. My mama’s inflection and my daddies’ affection. My mother’s writing, my father’s conversation. I am full of their influence, recognized or not. I have her laugh and her need to be needed. I have his passion. Their minds, hearts, conversations shaping my thoughts, attitudes and desires.
I am also where I have been and what I have seen. These experiences, conscious and subconscious, frame what I see and how I feel. My childhood was easy and my belly was full. My education was guaranteed and support unwavering. I was respected, cherished and cared for, now I feel secure, strong and sure.
I am a weird mix of who they are and what I have seen and how I see and experience the divine. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, but my ground is rarely sinking. God redeemed and worked and molded and divided and I know I am His. I rest in His grace and I trust in His purpose.
I see things as only I can. No-one else has my exact experience with my family, life or God to frame their view. My view is mine alone. My choices flow steadily from this view. It shapes how I see me, others and God.
But what If I were her?
Who is she?
Her Papa’s chin and her Manmi’s eyes. Blessed to be the combination of their quiet strength, determination and faith. Her father’s passion, or so she hears. She has her mama’s joy, expressed in rolls of laughter with her friends. She understands loyalty and her mother’s strength both intimidates and inspires her.
She is a combination of her family and her experiences. She helplessly watched her Daddy die when she was 6. She cried, but not for long, they had to survive. Since she was 3 she’s been carrying water everyday starting at dawn, so at 6 she is strong and capable, confident in what her body can do. School is a dream and she pretends she is sitting in class when she has time to play. Life deals blow, after blow and her tired mom can’t feed her anymore. She has been hungry before but now she is scared. “Another family,” her mom says, “can give you what I can’t.” She dies a little inside as she leaves her home and in her new place her capable body is put to the test. Laundry, watch the baby, make the meals, clean the floors, and “here’s some food,” now do some more. She is on her own now. She has to be strong. One step, then the next and suddenly she is 24.
She has been hungry, abused, under valued and discarded. But she is strong, capable and determined. She is a beautiful mix of what she has seen and how she sees and experiences the divine. When she was little she prayed and God has stayed very near. On Christ the solid rock she stands and she can truly say she has nothing else to stand on. God has been companion, comfort, family, and rest. She has to trust Him, without Him she is lost. God redeemed and worked and molded and divided and she knows she is His. She rests in His grace and she trusts in His purpose.
She sees things as only she can. No-one else has her exact experience with family, life or God to frame their view. Her view is hers alone. Her choices flow steadily from this view. It shapes how she sees herself, others and God.
Who are you?
Can you assume to understand our choices and what motivates our souls? Do you understand our perspective or see where our brokenness lies? Even our victories and defeats can only be truly understood by God. But you can try and so can I.
Let’s approach each other, humbly. We have so much to learn about what shapes the soul and causes a fire to burn. Help us to be kind, God, even when we can’t comprehend. Every person we connect to, has a history too complicated to understand.
Thanks for taking a minute to wax philosophical with me. I wrote this as I was pondering my desire to approach my Haitian brothers and sisters (and all people really), with grace and love. I realize this applies to ALL of us but sometimes crossing the divide between her experience and mine is extra tough. I want to approach her humbly and assume nothing about why she struggles where she does, anymore than she could really understand why I struggle where I do. Who am I to say, “Well, If I were in his/her shoes, I would never!”, or even assume to be able to understand enough to judge? If I will ever be able to connect and serve my Haitian friends well, then I have to let go of having all the answers. I need to be honest and humble. God understands my brokenness and the brokenness of others too, it is not my job to figure that out. I can just love and that is what I aim to do.
We always have so many of our life experiences in common. as they are human experiences. So grateful for the common ground of love and grace given freely by Jesus to anchor our relationships and remind us we are not so different after all. I’m just gonna love.
Broken people, needing God and each other. Life is better when we #konbittogether.
Just something I have been mulling over. Hope it challenges you as much as it is challenging me.