I love this scene in “Coming to America” (because it’s funny). But I love it more because we don’t need words to get to the point. The message is pretty clear: no matter where this family goes, they will leave a mark. Yes, even when we don’t intend to, we leave remnants of ourselves wherever we go. And often times, we don’t recognize what we deposit into others.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the last time I went to Haiti three years ago. I was at a housing conference, discussing with other advocates how to improve conditions post the devastating earthquake. My last day of my stay, a conference attendant grabbed my arm and told that a woman–a Haitian woman–was looking for me.
How can someone in Haiti be looking for me? It was only my second trip to the small country. I followed the messenger into the large conference area, and I saw a familiar face smiling at me. A woman with long locs, diminutive in size, but not in her voice. She immediately rushed to me and gave me a hug. I hugged back…confused. I struggled to recollect what deed I performed to deserve such a warm embrace. I pulled back, and in my terrible French asked her “what did I do for you?”
She said: “koute”.
She hugged me because I listened.
And then I remembered who she was. As a staffer in Congress, on a very busy day a year prior, this woman came by my Congressman’s office not once, but twice. At the time, there were so many domestic issues, and the small number of offices that really worked on the Haiti crisis had (in our minds) talked to everyone we needed to talk to to get the “job done” on the ground. But she wouldn’t leave without telling her story. Like many others, she was a rape survivor–sexually assaulted while living in camp shelters post the earthquake. I remembered looking at her, thinking “she is probably my mother’s age.” I remember her saying she has been trying and trying to get Congress to hear about the women and girls raped every day, but people were too busy to sit with her. In all honesty, the day she came by, I, too, had a lot on my plate. But when I found out how far she traveled, I penciled her in my schedule.
I never knew that a year after that conversation, I would see that woman again. She said that because I took the time to see her, she took the 2+ hour bus ride to come see me.
This is not about my works. Far from it. I did not put out much energy to deserve her presence. She was not traveling to see Ify. She was traveling to see the God in Ify. The same God that drew sick people to press through crowds is the same God that will cause people to jump on buses when you come into town. I was not trying to be perfect…charismatic…or even my best self when I sat to speak with her. I was just present. And by just being, we leave a piece of Him behind, no matter where we go.
I also think that that’s how God is with us. That if we would press our concerns to Him, and not lose sight of how many doors have been shut in our face, or how many “no, can’t help yous” we have endured, that in the end, He will sit with us, hear us, and address our concerns.
Let your Soul Glo!