“You don’t have to be a perfect person to do something great for somebody else,” she says. “The imperfections in your life might be helped by the process of meeting and helping and creating community for people who are displaced. It’s not just for the saints of the world. We can all do something.”
(Want to take a guess at who made this profoundly honest and true statement? I left the gender hint for you, but for now I’m not going to reveal the identity of the wise southern voice. Maybe I’ll give you more clues, like that one I just gave you, or the first one I gave you- did you see it?)
I read this just after finishing our wildly successful first Girls on the Run Run-A-Thon (a place where many people did “something” as we logged a LOT of treadmill miles and raised a LOT of money for a LOT of young girls who will benefit!) I was taking a nice warm bath with a nice warm cup of tea and these words just made me feel nice and warm as well. Not because they are nice words, but because they are TRUE words. I have seen the truth of them myself in the last decade and every week this year if I’m honest.
The truth is “displaced” people can wear a lot of different clothes.
There are the displaced people we are quick to think of, like those fleeing areas of war, violence, disease and civil unrest who are literally displaced geographically. My sweet brother-in-law Diego is working with people like these and I am so inspired by the work he does.
Displaced people also might be standing right next to you. Like the ones my friend Tara works with who might be displaced from life due to injury, illness, poverty, loss of job, home or family. She’s amazing in her dedication to make a difference in a place that feels so hopeless to me sometimes. My relatively new friend Laurie is truly an advocate for the displaced and my life has changed a bit since meeting her. (Some of those changes I’ll be excited to share with you in coming days!) I have so many friends who work in the medical community and in the military and the “displacement” of disease, illness, cancer, deployments and death are easy to see in the lives of the people they serve. You might be standing next to a person displaced from a marriage, or displaced from family due to any number of reasons. Maybe displacement in your world looks like getting up day after day to a life you don’t remember choosing but no longer even have the energy to be discontent with. Maybe you are caring for someone who needs you right now, and other identities and roles have had to be displaced for a while.
Whatever “displaced” looks like in your life or those around you, I have to agree with this beautiful belle above that it is often in the process of seeking out those to help that our own imperfections, pain, mistakes, heartbreaks, tragedies and dashed desires get transformed little by little into something we can imagine one day seeing as good.
(If you are a Jesus-follower, you’ll recognize this thought from Romans-often quoted out of context with a distorted interpretation. The truth is that not everything is good, and not everything bad was caused by God, but he can work everything, even the bad things INTO good. It’s true, I’ve seen it.)
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been living a sort of in-between life this year: in-between the first and second half of my life; in-between a traditional work week/vocation and a non-traditional year of trying things out; in-between a traditional “I can’t do that” and a non-traditional “why couldn’t I do that?” attitude. That has involved coming across the path of displaced people in a million different ways. It has given me the chance to smile and to cry; to be angry and to be activated, to be delighted and to be dumbfounded and most of all to be inspired to pay attention to the people and the lives around me. I’ve met so many amazing people who have had HARD stuff and I’ve seen a few destroyed by it, but most often I’ve seen them transformed by it. The prisoners (of crimes they did and did not commit) who are restored, and take up the cause of other “prisoners”, because who can better help them than those who have been in their “chains”? The homeless who have been housed and then dedicated their lives to helping other homeless. The sick and divorced and hopeless who have found health, love and hope and in turn made it their goal to reach out to those who are where they have been.
What I’ve realized in all of this, is that every single time, that change, that hope, that return to life and love has come BECAUSE of the help they received from those who made a choice to help. I have met SO MANY kind, generous, grateful, strong people who are only that way because of the kindness of someone else in their life. They may have scars but they are alive and they are grateful to those who helped them heal. What a great gift that is for both people- the hope of “better days ahead” for the one and the knowledge that their own scars served to help someone else for the other. I’ve been both-the wounded and the scarred- and the gratitude goes both ways.
One person who seems to have this whole concept down is my new favorite blogger- Glennon Melton, aka “Momastery”. Part of my in-between year has involved a LOT of travel, including many conferences (I am a self-professed (confessed?) conference-lover) and I first heard Glennon at the Storyline conference in Chicago in October. Despite being a wildly successful writer and highly-sought after speaker, somehow she maintains this intensely personal way of communicating that makes you just catch your breath. She believes passionately in honestly sharing our lives, the good and the bad, and being authentic and transparent with ourselves and our people. She believes in the power of having friends and family and a community that knows and love us, one that we trust and count on. Therefore I have added Glennon to my “must read” Feedly category and to my “internet best friends” along with Jen Hatmaker and Shauna Niequist (who I also saw at Storyline!).
What do all the paragraphs of this post have to do with each other? ( I know some of you are wondering. I also know some of may be feeling slightly uncomfortable/un-entertained by my possibly overly touchy-feely thoughts today. I recognize it and I can’t help it but I do hope you’ll keep reading. The good part is coming up!) What do a legally blonde actress, displaced people, my in-between year and Momastery have to do with each other?
I’m so glad you asked! What they have to do with each other is that they together gave me the idea to do something that could be pretty amazing for some of those “displaced” people around us in the coming weeks. If you check out Momastery’s blog you’ll see her recent posts about “Holiday Hands.” In short, she matches up people who NEED things for Christmas and people who want to GIVE things to help those in need. I didn’t see it in time to participate but the idea just made me want to jump up and down. I love it. In less than a day every single need was met and people who otherwise couldn’t buy food, gifts for their family or fees for kids recitals and performances were given those very gifts by others who reached out to help.
I loved it so much I couldn’t stop thinking about it; about all the people I know who NEED that help and ALL the people I know who would LOVE to give that help. This time of year has been hard for me in the last several holiday seasons. While I truly do not know how to explain how much I LOVE Nov 1 to Dec 31 I also am deeply aware of the pain around this time for so many. (Even AS I AM WRITING this post, I received a call that delayed me finishing it because the tears blurred my vision. Tears for another senseless and painful event that will make these holidays and all those that follow so hard for a whole new set of people.) I try so hard to temper my LOVE and excitement with the realities and respect that others need, but it is so hard. So you can imagine how this little idea might just not leave me alone, until I woke up a few nights ago, and I just whispered “Why not?”
“Why can’t I copy Momastery?” “Why can’t MY people- all my awesome amazing people- do for others what Glennon’s people did for their others? There is so much NEED and so much GENEROSITY all around us and there is no reason that we can’t share it all across the (internet and “real”) world. I certain do NOT think that Momastery will be upset by this idea that is totally stolen and copied from hers.
So here’s the “good stuff” and I’m going to keep it simple because I have no idea what is going to happen with it.
For this post and until Nov 30, I am taking requests for those who NEED. Holiday Hands has all kinds of instructions and guidelines for their requests because they are doing this on such a large scale, but because (see above) I have no idea how this is going to go over, I’m not going to put any guidelines on it. If you personally or someone you know has a NEED this Christmas season, you have two options:
1. Send me an email with the request.
2. Send me a facebook message with the request.
I would ask that we not put the exact needs in the comments right now only because that may limit people asking for things and I would love to have that not be a factor.
Starting on Dec 1st, I’ll start letting you know the needs we received and giving you an opportunity to fill those needs. Stay tuned for another post here and for facebook posts if you are there. Again there are many more guidelines I could put in, but for now, I think I’ll leave it at that.
So- are you in? I have no idea how or if this is going to work (and I can’t even come up with a fancy name for it). I can guarantee this is going to be another one of those posts where I hit “send” and then take off for a run in order to avert a panic attack for having hit said button. I’m excited to see what happens, and frankly even if one need is met, I’m going to call it a huge success. I think anyone who got married in Sweet Home Alabama would agree, don’t you?