Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Fleeting Moments

So here is a recap of a conversation that took place yesterday. Eli and I were running the race, and I was chatting along, trying to keep him from getting too distracted by the heat. Every few minutes I'd see something in the spectators or on the course and point it out to him. ('Check out that guy's shirt!' or 'That band reminds me of New Orleans.')
Then I saw something that made my throat tighten. Over a dozen men on the sidelines, wearing white shirts with the American flag, handing out water and high fives and shouting encouragement. And I was so touched to see the interactions between them and some runners.

Between these Muslim men and some white runners. Like a tiny glimmer of hope in a world that we have been painfully reminded is so broken so many times in just one summer month.
Me: Eli, I love their shirts...did you see what they said?
Eli: Muslims for something...maybe America? (There was an American flag on them)
Me: Muslims for loyalty. What do you think that means?
Eli: That they feel like America is their home.
Me: Me too. Why do you think it's so significant that they are over there, cheering us on, wearing those shirts? What do you think they are trying to tell us?
Eli: Maybe that they are not trying to hurt us.
Me: Why would they have to let us know that?
Eli: Because most Muslims have made bad choices...
(I cut him off after he said 'most')
Me: No, no, no, Eli. SOME Muslims have made choices that have hurt others. You've got to be very careful about listening to what others say in the news and even in your school...if you believed that one represented all then you get yourself down a bad road. Many people believe Christians are all judgmental and unloving because of the choices and public statements of some. Do you think that's true? Do you think that we are mean and judgemental?
Eli: No.
Me: Do you think Pastor Rob is unloving towards others?
Eli: No.

Me: Do you think Daddy is unloving?
Eli: No.
Me: That's the point: there will always be some in a group of...whatever making a bad name for that group. You know those who follow Christ are trying to love people as Jesus did, even though some who claim to be Christians judge and hate others 'in the name of God'. And that's not fair to anyone..it makes it really hard for those of us who want to love and leave the judgment to God to convince others of that. I imagine it is even harder for Muslims to convince most Americans that they want peace, or that they are loyal to the United States. (Yup...Mommy just kept rambling on and on, as I do.)
Eli: I guess so.
Me: I think they are crazy brave to be standing out here identifying as both Muslim and American...there are some people who would feel so angry about them doing that that they might try to hurt them. It's easy for you and I to wear our red, white and blue stuff today. It's a lot harder for them to wear that flag on their shirt...

At this point a woman who was running right along side of us (over 50,000 people, so it's pretty tight quarters) looked me in the eye and interrupted me, "Good Job, mama. You're saying all the right things. Please keep it up."

This is the point when it seems pretty braggadocios...like I'm just pumping up what a good mom I am. But actually, it is the exact opposite.

This woman's words brought me to tears as I let them sink in over the following 60 seconds or so. They were kind. They reminded me that people around me could hear me. But mostly they pointed out that what I say has an impact. And mostly they exposed the ugly truth that I do not allow for nearly enough of these moments in the lives of my kids. I let them pass by way more than often than not.

Mostly I don't say the right thing, or anything at all, when given the opportunity. This was a rare moment that Eli and I were together with nothing to do BUT talk. He basically had no choice but to listen to me because the alternative was to think about running. And I had no other kids or housework or photo edits or anything to distract me from seeing something in his world and engaging him in a conversation about it while focusing only on it.

These moments don't happen nearly enough and I know it's almost always my fault. Most of the time it is easier to allow distractions to keep me from seeing these moments. Most of the time it's less effort to glaze over the difficult topics. Most of the time there is no time. But that woman reminded me that I need to make time for these moments because what I say to Eli matters and has an impact. The biggest impact is that I'm saying something to him. Who knows if Eli will remember what I said. Who knows if what I said was anywhere close to the right thing. Regardless, my job is to be his champion, his support, his teacher...so I need to keep making those moments happen at all costs.

1 comment:

bev said...

Very touching and special teaching moment.