Just a Moment, Please

image“Don’t even try to change their lives,” I told my group. “Lives are long and complicated and incredibly resistant to change.”

On our mission trip, these students and I were interacting with children living in temporary housing and homeless folk. We’re meeting grown up abandoned children and child-like adults. Those who have raped and those have been raped, murdered and witnessed murder.  Child predators and survivors of sexual abuse. They are teen moms, children of teen moms, and prostitutes. Even the youngest ones we are meeting have had long lives already, complicated by abandonment, neglect, and addiction.

We can’t change their lives in a day. Life change takes time. It takes commitment. It takes a lot more than an afternoon of fun and games.

“So, no,” I said, “Don’t try to change their lives, because that will just wear you out.”

The students looked confused, baffled a little. I could almost see the thought bubbles above their heads: Then why are we here?

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“What you can do, though,” I continued, “is change a moment. You can sing songs, play games, color pictures, and listen—really listen—to the stories of people who have lived on the street and want desperately, finally, to be heard. By doing that, by being present here with these often forgotten people, you will change moments.”

 

They nodded, getting it.

“You see,” I said, “the hope is that over time, enough moments will be changed that real transformation takes place.

“Moment by moment: unexpected laughter breaks the flow of tears.
Moment by moment: creativity shatters the monotony.
Moment by moment: compassion listens and the neglected spirit is restored.”

So that’s what we've been doing here in Myrtle Beach, SC this week: changing moments. And in the process, we’re feeling pretty transformed ourselves.

About the Author Aileen Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.

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2 comments
Andrea Sutton says April 1, 2013

I wish someone had told me this when I went on a mission trip to an orphanage in Jamaica. I left the country frustrated, feeling as if it was all in vain, knowing that the trash we picked up would pile up again because they had no waste management anywhere near by, knowing the shotty repairs we made to the building would soon be compromised by more bad weather, I guess that it just mattered that for a little while it was clean and in better condition, and they knew someone cared.

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    Aileen Lawrimore says April 2, 2013

    This kind of work is so exhausting, don't you think Andrea? I like to leave life change to Someone else. Moments are about all I can manage. (Thanks for reading!)

    Reply
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