At our core, I’m convinced humans are broken, awful people. Full of darkness. But I also know we’re overflowing with goodness and at our core really want the brokenness of the world to fade away.
I’ve had some real conversations with friends about the dire state of the world. Whether it’s the tumultuous, unstable lives of so many children in Newark, the absolute hatred running rampart in South Africa, the selfishness of friends, the frustrations with imperfect lovers, poachers killing innocent Rhinos, or the yet-again horrible news report of one more violent crime against a child. Whichever the case. Whichever the friend I find myself talking with, it always ends in such a depressing manner. What is our world coming to? How can we keep on living this way? What will it take to change our ways as humans? Sometimes the pervasive negative state is downright overwhelming.
So Thursday was a real treat.
A friend of a friend (thanks Holly & Erin!) rescued us from 35 hours of airports and flights Wednesday night and sheltered us in her home in Clarkson, GA. They are doing some incredible stuff that should be ordinary Christian living. These young women have simply moved in with a Burmese refugee family of 5 to be good neighbors and help these new-comers transition to the States. Now those are some Boat Rockers if I’ve ever seen ’em. In a world where people are selfish and nasty and dark, there’s some light shining and growing.
Having never met us before, Holly even woke up the next morning, supplied us with coffee, energized our hearts with more stories from her creative life, and then drove us 20 miles out of her way to drop us at the interstate. A combination of being broke and always wanting a little adventure, we chose the only natural solution to getting home to our South Carolina family 5 hours away – hitchhike! We dropped our packs at the on-ramp’s grass and stuck out our thumbs with smiles on our face and the sun on our backs.
“Ah. Thank you, God, it’s a gorgeous warm day!”
“Don’t get too excited, Nicole, we could be here for 5 hours.”
“No, I don’t think so. You’ve got me. People always pick up girls, don’t they?”
After 30 minutes, we had one young mother pull over hoping to help us out. She was bright-eyed and extremely eager to let us hop in, but we soon realized she was going into Atlanta, not north. Alas. She drove off, but not before Sean thanked her for ‘being an awesome person!”
15 minutes later. the Heart of Humanity shows up again. Her face? Two Mexican young men. “Augusta?” They ask. “Si” Sean says. And “Thank you soooo much.” We crawled in the backseat after our bags and rode away. They offered us “real Mexican candy,” bottled water, gum, and friendship. I was floored at the generosity of these two men. Most of the ride they spoke to each other in Spanish, but when they could find the words, they asked us questions and offered us laughter and smiles. Not to mention 127 miles of a journey traveled together.
At a rest area by Augusta, we parted ways. Sean and I ran to pee. On our way out, Sean said, “Hurry! I saw this cool guy that might give us a ride. Let’s intercept him.” And so we did, just as J was pulling out of the parking lot. He was going our way. And he would take us.
“So where have you guys been traveling?” J asked indicating our packs. As we shared our stories, he stood a bit in shock – “No way! I’ve just come from Swaziland and South Africa. I did a 11 countries in 11 months mission trip.” It seems J and us would have a lot to talk about on our mini road trip. Not only had J been in the same countries we’d just returned from, he’s also contemplating the next phase of his life. How will he live his life? Where will he move? When he found out we’d also been teachers in New Jersey. His only response could be: “This must be a God appointment because I’ve seriously been thinking about becoming a teacher. I was just wondering how I could pursue that before I picked yall up.”
We never stopped talking for 1.5 hours. I never stopped smiling for 1.5 hours. the Heart of Humanity shows up again. Not only does he offer a ride this time, but also encouragement to live courageously and led by the Spirit.
Our last ride came from a less-than-chatty gentleman who asked us to ride in his pick-up truck. I felt good about that, respecting that he might feel uneasy having two strangers sit in his cab. At one point, he even pulled over to offer me his canvas jacket, for fear the wind was too much on me. Wow. Humanity is good.
Humanity is good. Inherently, there is something inside all of us that calls for goodness and justice. We want to bless people and be generous and kind and helpful. We know what is right. We try to do it. And cry when there is wrong. Regardless of whether people praise Yahweh, the sun, themselves, Buddha, Allah, Shiva, or nothing, there is still a desire to do good. There is still the Heartbeat of Humanity inside their chests. And it is a beautiful thing to behold and partake of.
Thank you to all who made my heart smile on our trip home!