as someone whose mantra is “downward mobility,” i’m guessing it’s crossed some minds out here how i reconcile my life as part the refuge with my life that includes flying all over the world and doing all kinds of appearing-not-so-downwardly mobile things.
it crosses my mind, too.
it’s been quite a wild ride for me over the years, coming from a family with a single mom-working-her-tail-off-to-raise-her-three-kids-with-no-help, to going to one of the most affluent colleges in the country on as much financial aid as you can possibly get, to an excellent paying job on the management fast track & grad school, to marrying jose and having a bunch of kids and building a pretty stable life together with a solid income to missional pastoring and this crazy life-together-in-the-trenches. regardless of where i came from, i am a person of great privilege. we live in a nice house & have health insurance & cars that we can put gas into & a full refrigerator.
it can seem like a mixed message. some of my friends don’t have gas in their car and i just got back from greece & turkey. how do we reconcile the disparity?
here’s how: we’re honest about it.
it all comes back to relationship. i am not saying it’s a piece of cake for my friends when they hear about our next adventure or they see pictures of our happy family on facebook when they long for one, but i do know this: they love me still and i don’t have to hide or pretend in community with them.
i can’t say i haven’t thought about trying to hide. sometimes it is embarrassing to say “we’re going to new york….again.” but then i come back to the most important thing i continue to learn–we’ve got to be us. not this person or that person, but us. we need to be ourselves and be comfortable in our own skin, with our own stories & unique situations.
this means i’m honest and give room for my friends to be honest, too. they’ve told me they’re jealous. that it’s sometimes hard to hear. but that those honest feelings don’t change anything.
during the summer when we had a mission team here from indianapolis, we hosted a justice panel where 4 of our friends shared what their lives on the margins were really like. it was one of my all-time most favorite things we’ve ever done; i’ll always remember something one of my dearest friends at the refuge said when we addressed this issue of “some of us have more money & margin while some others don’t and how do we deal with it together in community.” here’s what he said: “as long as kathy keeps bringing me shot glasses from wherever she goes, we’re happy.” (they have a shot glass collection, the collection kind, not the drinking out of them kind).
these friends are lucky if they have enough gas to make it to their doctor appointments each week. i do what i can to love & support them & help in any way i can but me not going on my trip will not solve their problems. it will not take away their pain or change their world in a snap.
the best gift i can give them is a lifetime of friendship.
that’s how we do this here. that’s how we live with the disparity of those with resources & those without. that’s how we live our lives out in the open instead of hiding or pretending. it’s because we’re friends.
friends who tell the truth about where we’re going and what we’re doing.
friends who celebrate the beauty in each others’ lives and remain present in the ugly.
friends who keep showing up & trying to practice what it means to be a friend.
friends who cheer each other on in every adventure, no matter how small or big.
friends who are getting really good at buying shot glasses.
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ps: more on our trip next week. it was really a beautiful adventure.
ppss: i wanted to share october’s column at sheloves centered on down we go. it’s is from down we go & based on a post i wrote at the very beginning of this blog. it’s called: tortoise or hare: the gift of rising slowly.