Monday, January 30, 2012

Love Thy Foreigner!

Lev. 19:33-34
33 When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

Over the years I’ve come to understand the need for this command more and more. I’ve been a foreigner in this land, America, for close to 25 years. I came to the realization a while back that I’ve lived in this country longer than I’ve lived in my own native land. So today, In honor of my 25th year in America, I want to make a public confession: year one and year 25 are as equally difficult. Of course some changes have made year 25 easier, like fluency in English and a basic understanding of the American culture but I tell you there continues to be this profound desire to be “home”! I think the theme song of Cheers captures a smidgen of that longing:

Sometimes you wanna go,
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

In other words, you want to be known at a deep, core level; no need to explain your history, no need to explain your past, no need to explain why you’re in a foreign land; you just want to be known.

I often walk around fragmented, misunderstood, frustrated that I can’t fully assimilate and be like everyone else. And honestly my soul would not allow me to assimilate and simply forget. I often want to wear a sign that reads: “I'm a Haitian woman living in America, please, please don't ask me to apologize for this in necessitating that I become mainstream, If I ever do I will stop being! Love me, teach me, bear with me but please don't ask me to cease from being”! ~sincerely Dieula~

Maybe the plight of the foreigners explains why God had such a huge heart for them; in the bible, God would often speak of them. Maybe he understood the challenges of being a stranger in a foreign land more than we think. Maybe he knew, since the creation of the world that He would use a foreigner, His son Jesus Christ, to live in a foreign land to save the world and if we disregarded and mistreated this foreigner, we would miss the God in flesh. And like every other foreigner living in a foreign land, Jesus would face feeling fragmented, misunderstood and frustrated of not being able to assimilate.

I was reminded today that perhaps the even deeper longing is not simply to be “Home”; maybe it’s for a place our restless souls can rest and be known and fully accepted. Is there such a place where the homeless can find a home, the drunks can stand strong, the gays can be loved beyond their sexual orientation, the prostitutes can find meaning beyond the physical, the slaves can be free and the foreigners can finally come home and find rest? If Jesus were to come down from heaven and decided to live amongst us, would he find a place to rest?

I believe Jesus offers a place where all of our restless souls can find rest and finally come Home. HEAVEN! Until then Let us do as Leviticus 19:33-34 commands “Love them as yourself”!!!!

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