June 11, 2020
Our world is shifting, and that gives me great hope. There have been too many unjust systems in place for far too long.
Beyond my work at Bridge of Hope, I also serve as a spiritual director. I pay attention not only to what people do, but how they do it. Process is so important.
Each time we train a new neighboring volunteer group, one of the questions we ask is What is your why? We encourage them to write their answers in their training manuals so that they can come back to them – as touchstones. We also try to be clear – If you have come here to fix something, you’ll likely be disappointed. If you have come here out of a need to feel good, you will likely be disappointed. You have to dig deeper. If you have come because Love has stirred you to walk alongside this family, that will sustain you, but be prepared to be transformed.
This requires humility.
This is why Bridge of Hope changed our language from mentoring to neighboring a few years ago. Mentoring assumes one person has something figured out and passes it on to another who needs it. This is a dangerous mindset. We know that families enter our program with the intent to change their lives. But neighboring puts us beside one another, and if we have open hearts, we can actually experience that Love transforming everyone. Neighboring volunteers are likely to increase in empathy, compassion, humility, understanding of systemic injustice and trauma, as well as their faith being challenged and strengthened. This is possible because of the Love that drew them to the relationship. Love is not afraid of pain, rather it moves toward it. Transformation is inevitable. That is exactly why Jesus called us to love our neighbors, because it changes everything.
Murri (Aboriginal Australian) visual artist and activist Lilla Watson once said,
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
I believe that Love is calling each of us to love our neighbors in this way right now. May we be able to give ourselves over to the transformation process, and experience a liberation that allows all of us to be truly free. If we transform the unjust systems within ourselves, we will contribute to the transformation of unjust systems in our world.