In light of this weekend’s immigration rulings, protests and pleas, I started thinking this afternoon about what a gift it is that I can move freely through much of this world. If I wanted to, I could get on a plane today to go experience cultures and meet people that have dramatically different lives and outlooks than me. In large part, that’s because we all (that is, the collective worldwide we) understand that we’re so much more alike than we are different. That is true, but it’s not the whole truth I’m afraid. I know that I also move freely through much of the world because I’m American and white – two realities I had no choice in deciding, but nonetheless probably cause some doors to swing open faster.
My time in France allowed me many experiences, but one that I haven’t talked a lot about was being “the other.” Now, let me say that being a white American in Paris has to be the absolute cushiest of ‘other’ situations. It’s right behind moving to Canada. But because of that, I’ve also had the experience of being thousands of miles from any family or anyone who knows my name for that matter. I’ve sat in a puddle of nerves in immigration offices, not fully understanding the process I was in the middle but knowing I was at the mercy of a bureaucratic system. I’ve felt the heat of embarrassment as people assume things about me because they know I’m ‘not from here.’ And in all of that, I was just a girl in search of adventure and a very good baguette. I wasn’t running for my life, praying my family would find a safe place to land, hoping with every last shred for a new start. I always knew I had safe, comfortable America and wide-open Texas to come back to.
I’ve never been a staunch American, massive national pride has never been my thing, but I do know that God determines the time and the places we should live (Acts 17). I heard a missionary say once that we weren’t set in America to simply live a comfortable life. God put you here for a reason, he said, figure out what that is and then go and do it. It’s such a wild gift that we can grow up in America and actually be befuddled by the possibilities waiting for us. Truly, we have so many options, so many freedoms that it can be hard to decide which direction to run and start building a life. Why wouldn’t we want to share that privilege with others? Throw it out to them like a lifeline? Freedom comes with a calling, a light load means we’ve been positioned to help carry someone else’s.
We can’t be afraid of each other, we just can’t, friends. Not only because diversity is where things truly get interesting, where you start to see and learn from a million brilliant hues of humanity, but because there isn’t a person on this earth that Jesus doesn’t love, that He wouldn’t save if they asked. If we shut borders, we tell the world we’re no longer interested in them and worse yet, I’m afraid that in time our hearts may follow suite. Christians, we love because He first loved us. We aid in saving because He saved us. We hold out our hand and heart because we’re in a position to do so. We have the space, we have the possibilities, we have the lightness of load.