Recently, Doug and I volunteered to take a refugee woman from Burma to an eye doctor appointment. We were grateful to have the chance to do it, since the business of our lives over the last several months has really hindered our time connecting in Clarkston. Our new friend was in her late 50’s and spoke very little English. She had had cataract surgery and was going for a follow up appointment.
Anytime you’re in a car with a person who does not speak your language, there’s the definite possibility that things will be awkward. They were (a little). When things get awkward, I start to do mental gymnastics, which I commenced that morning in the car. Where had she come from? What was her story? What did she think of I-285 on a Saturday morning? How often had she been away from the confines of Clarkston? Did she have a husband? What did she think of me? Was she amused by my banter with Doug, or did she think it was rude that we were talking and wonder if we were talking about her? Human mental static, on steroids.
The doctor’s office was quiet – it was a Saturday morning – so we got right in to see him. He asked me several questions about her health history, and I had to uncomfortably explain that I did not know a thing about this dear woman. I was just here as the transmission, wheels, and steering column. (That’s because Doug always gets the job of being the brakes at our house…HA!) So, I tried in vain to act like I knew more than I did…to be an expert on someone I was totally unfamiliar with. He asked, “Can she read the letters on the wall if I put them up?” I confidently replied, “I doubt it! Most likely not. I don’t think so.”
Yes she can.
She read all of them. Down to the little ones on the line that read “20/15” and indicated that my new friend not only knew her letters, but she also had excellent post-cataract-surgery vision.
I was arrogant enough to assume that she was illiterate? Yes. Absolutely. Humblingly. Prideful.
All of my assumptions and mind-static on the way to the office had led me to paint a very certain picture of this “poor” woman who knew no English and probably very few other things.
It’s quite possible she is a Burmese rocket scientist…or PhD…or chef…or teacher.
Why on earth would I make assumptions like that? Why would I let the static in my head paint pictures of things that were so far from true with so little evidence?
Because I’m normal, I think.
Here’s what I’ve been mulling over all week, though: Jesus came. This is the season of Advent. He entered our world and became human. Tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. In addition to our temptation, what must it have been like for a Holy God of clarity and creation and peace to take on a human mind full of so much static? Did it sound so harsh to His holy internal ears when he became a man and suddenly heard the internal cacophony of questions and answers and assumptions and ideas and feelings and confusions and judgments and ponderings?
I don’t pretend to know how much He endured of this type of human challenge, but I keep thinking of how raw and painful and jarring it must have been to Him who offers the peace that passes understanding. He bore our sin. He bore our judgment. He bore our death. And, He lived inside of our static. How grateful I am that the Prince of Peace chose to enter our human cacophony and offer us His gracious silence, even in our least holy nights.