It was a few weeks ago, my phone rings. I am working from home, writing something unimportant. Yet, I am hesitant to interrupt my concentration. No matter how insignificant my work assignment is, at that precise moment, it’s the center of my universe. While I’m toying whether I should pick up or call back later, my hand lifts the phone. Or maybe it’s not my hand. Maybe it’s instinct, a force, my conscience. Something bigger than me, that knows this phone call is about to rock my world.
On the other end of the line, my friend is emotional, feeling both overwhelmed and excited at the task that she has just assigned herself. She needs to share the life changing mission she has embarked on, and this is no small one: she is helping ten Syrian families who have just been relocated, to get back on their feet.
And just like that, the Syrian crisis has a face: forty seven faces to be precise.
I listen to her giving me some of their stories. How they have arrived with nothing but a few suitcases. How they have to find ways to function get a life back together in a foreign country where they don’t speak the language. How they have to get food on their kids’ plates, away from anything and anyone that they know, while their own families are still suffering in a war-torn country.
I listen to her, I hear the words, I feel bad for what these men, women and children have gone through. But it’s not why I offer her some assistance. I decide to help because she’s my friend. I love her, and if something is so important to her, then I should be supportive.
So, I get involved under her guidance, but keep a level of emotional distance. You know the feeling: I’m doing something nice, because that’s what I should do. That’s until I go, and meet some of the forty-seven individuals. Amazing, strong, brave individuals.
I jumped into my friend’s project to help change their lives. But instead, it’s mine that changes. Each of them has so much to give, so many life lessons to offer, if only I am willing to listen.
So, I do. I listen, effortlessly, fascinated by how much more they have to give to me than I to them. They teach me that resilience is a pillar and you need to knock down obstacles, one by one, progress, one step at a time and not sulk over what might have been, should have been, or is no more. No matter how many times you get knocked down. Just get up, and go. Again, and again. They teach me that one holds one’s head high with dignity, not with status or belongings. And dignity they have! They teach me the grace of being grateful.
By the end of the day, I’m the one thanking them for opening their doors, their lives, and letting me in.
We end up in a contest of “Thank you.” “No, thank YOU”. The kids join in, we talk, we hug. And I go home, not feeling sad, or sorry. I go home feeling richer that I have these people in my life. I go home feeling thankful that these families have allowed me in their world.
Have you experienced a life changing encounter? Has someone helped give you a sense of purpose that you didn’t even know you needed?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Nadege Nicoll. She was born in France but now lives permanently in New Jersey with her family. Nadege also writes a daily blog for moms who need to smile at everyday life. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her website www.nadegenicoll.com.
Photo credit to the author.