My Past has Shaped Me

I am a white girl, who grew up in a poor family.  My dad worked construction, and of course we had to move where the work was.  There were many times that my dad decided he would go to another state to work and send money back to us, just so we would not have to change schools.  There was a time when we lived in a tent, but my dad did not allow us to go to school in dirty clothes.  I remember the heartbreak of being in junior high and not wanting to make friends because, I did not want them to know I did not have a home.  I would actually go eat in the bathroom to avoid being made fun of.  It was a devastatingly difficult time.  As I grew up, I rejected religion, yet was oddly fascinated by it.  I tried it all, new age, Buddhism, Hinduism, Spiritualism etc.  It was not until I turned 19 that I decided Christianity was the path for me.  Jesus was the main reason for my decision.  He did not judge, he preached love of all and he came for everyone!  He accepted all!  All.

As I have continued my journey, I have come to realize that everyone has their path, and I love listening to their stories.  I love sitting a talking with those who believe differently from me, so that I can better understand where they are coming from.  What they have been through.  How they overcame whatever it was they went through in their lives.  You see, America is pretty cool that way.  We have come from different places around the world.  We celebrate culture and diversity.  We celebrate being different.  At least, that is what I thought until lately.  But maybe it has not changed.  If I and all of us, have been shaped by our past, that means that we can learn from our mistakes as a nation.  This means, that instead of becoming more divisive, we can come together in peace, love, and unity despite our political agendas or religious preferences.  It means that we can find common ground.

It seems to me that we as believers in Higher Power or those who believe in humanity,  have all been taught something similar:  to welcome the stranger.  To practice a hospitality so radical that it means to extend our hand and hearts to those who are in need.  This does not change in any religious belief.  It is common ground.

I implore everyone to seek facts and not fake news.  To meet others different from you, and to extend your hand to ALL.  We do not know everyone’s stories, but we can learn to listen.

Words to Live By

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This past year has been, well different.  Last January, another woman and I started a community kitchen in our church basement.  The lunch is open to anyone, every Wednesday, no cost for anyone who wants a delicious home cooked hot meal.  It started with four people showing up the first day we opened, and now it has grown to an average of 130 people per week, spiking on some days to over 200.  I have learned so much about other people as well as myself this past year.  The biggest being that a variety of people, homeless to rich, drug addicts to business world, all ethnicities and religions can share a meal together peacefully and work together in a positive and uplifting environment.  I have realized that I love to cook, and help other people develop their goals and realize they can accomplish a task no matter how small.  I have realized that the more I give the more I receive and truly the smaller I become.

Yesterday, I was walking on my treadmill watching It’s a Wonderful Life.  There is a moment in the movie when George looks at his dads picture and underneath the picture is a plaque that states, “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”  This quote struck me and I realized that this is how I want to live.  Not acquiring fame, stuff or more money, but I desire to live my life given away.  So, instead of making a New Years resolution, I have decided to try to live out this quote everyday.  My goal is to do at least one thing a day that is given.  This can include what I give to my family such as my attention and care, to how I smile at someone walking down the street whether they smile back or not.

I am excited to start this New Year and where this quote will take me.

Love to you all!

Suzy