One of Another
By: Emily Anderson
I recently came across shoeboxes of letters from summer weeks long ago full of thoughts and stories and photos for keepsake. These particular notes were from Russian and Ukrainian orphans, my teenage peers at the time, anticipating the beginning of the school year, or First Bell as they call it in Russia. I related to the content. They spoke of hopes and struggles, temptations and dreams, and the navigation of relationships (a topic that held us equally captivated). Though in so many ways we were the same, I couldn't fully grasp that the very sameness we shared made our differences great gulfs. It is hard enough to be young and on the cusp of adulthood with all the support and advantages the world could offer. These kids’ were expected to be older earlier, disadvantaged without care or cornerstone, so they may go it alone henceforth and perhaps acquire a quarter dream, or eighth. There are moments I am embarrassed at my ignorance, to treat my new friends as if we were kindred and as if I fully understood their plight. Of course I couldn’t at my core fathom. But mostly I feel blessed by the inside view of their lives and their perspective, given to me as an equal in pen-pal letters and teen minded secrets. In truth, the recognition of our sameness is essential. Over any worldly distinction or difference, we are one body in Christ, individually members one of another (Romans 12:5). To love them best, we must see them as our brothers and sisters, the other and equal members of one body.
As I peruse social media, laden with friends’ new school year pictures and plans, I think of the multitude of un-posted First Bells. I pray for their hopes and struggles, their temptations and dreams, and for the clear and Christ centered navigation of their relationships.