This semester is all about seeing Washington D.C. in new ways — and with a new heart and a new attitude. As we prepare to begin our “service learning” projects tomorrow, I want to go into my community service with a better attitude than I had last semester…which was actually only 6 weeks ago.
So, for today’s blog post, I thought I’d share an excerpt from my WJC final reflection paper, which I called “New eyes to see the city.” This personal story from my service learning through The Fishing School stays with me…and I hope it will remind me to serve joyfully in the name of Jesus tomorrow!
“While I was completing my service learning through The Fishing School at J.O. Wilson Elementary, I often fielded students’ questions about my appearance. They asked me why my skin was not “brown.” They wanted to know how my teeth were so white. And they especially loved touching my short hair, giggling about how straight it is. Everything about the way I looked seemed to intrigue them, and it was not until I realized that they had not come into contact with many women like me that I appreciated their curiosity about my looks.
I remember one particular afternoon, though, when I engaged one young girl in a conversation about our appearances. We were in the cafeteria, sitting across from each other at the lunch table. She grabbed my hand and announced, “Let’s switch hands!” We each pretended to take off one of our hands and exchange it with the other. “This is my first time having big hands!” she said, laughing. Then, after we decided it was probably best if we each kept our own hands, we switched hair. Her cute hair was long and curly, so I told her how happy I was to finally have curly hair. Her eyes got wide as she patted her head, imaging my short, pixie-style hair on top of it, and said, “Oh! This is my first time having flat hair!” I couldn’t help laughing, and so the body part exchanges continued – skin, mouth, ears, nose – until we traded eyes.
She had deep brown eyes, the kind I would love to have for real, and I explained to her that this was my first time ever having brown eyes. She didn’t understand why I was so fascinated with brown eyes – but how could I not be, when I was watching them light up with joy as we played? She pretended for a moment that she was looking at the world through my eyes before she said, “Wow, Miss Melissa, this is my first time with beautiful eyes.”
I do not know what that little girl saw – whether she was looking at my eyes or through them – but beauty is often something I struggle to see in myself. I tend to lose track of who I am as a beautiful, talented daughter of Christ.
When I arrived in D.C. in August, I was desperately lonely and scared, and I had to lean on God for help. I did more than lean on him; in running away from my problems, I fell into his arms so completely that I discovered a true freedom I had never known before: my own identity.
It seems so obvious to say that I came to D.C. and found myself, so I will avoid the cliché. Rather, I have to give credit to God. I came to D.C. and God found me here, when I felt farthest from him. He revealed himself to me in so many ways, demonstrating his faithfulness, his blessings and his love without end. Many times I struggled to explain to myself why I felt so worthless yet kept being blessed with such amazing opportunities. I only ever came up with one answer:
The woman I am in Christ is far more beautiful – physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually – than I have ever been able to see with my own eyes. Through God’s eyes, though, I see an image of the person he loves, the woman I am meant to be.”