A friend of mine at work sat down at the lunch table, where we all eat together, and said, "Tell me something uplifting. I'm worried about the immigrants in this country."
I waited to see what my progressive, political, super-informed co-workers had to say. Several folks weren't able to come up with anything. It's a tough time that's just beginning and people are worried.
I thought about whether to share a personal story or not, because I was worried it wouldn't apply. But because I didn't want my friend to keep going down the depressing spiral, I decided I would share.
"Before I worked here, I was unemployed. I was 'living' with my husband on one small income, with a mortgage and an almost 2 year old. We were literally eating beans and rice (thankfully my husband is a very creative cook) and we'd rotate which bill got paid each month.
I knew if I didn't pull my community closer to me, I would plummet into a deep despair and I wasn't sure how I'd get out. So that's what I did. I emailed a few close friends and said, 'Look, we need you right now. We're going to start inviting ourselves to dinner and showing empty-handed at potlucks because we don't have enough at the moment, but we don't want to isolate.'
And my friends were awesome. They said, 'Of course.'
So we spent MORE time with them, we found ways to creatively hang out for free, we invited people over to our house for a potluck, even though we didn't have much, and the place filled with delicious food, laughter, and togetherness. Eventually, I did get a job, but what could've been a tragedy, turned into a way to get closer. And we did."
My friend said that actually DID help her feel less despair. And another co-worker said that she was thankful I had shared my story.
I share it now here to remind us that we have a choice in conflict...we can pull apart and isolate, or we can get closer, warm by each other's fires, and share. For some of us, it might be hard to reach out, and I have been there. I had to practice making phone calls. It took me a while to stop wishing it would go to voicemail. But it just takes practice. One call/dinner at a time. Find one person or family that you can practice getting closer to. Pick one day a month to invite someone(s) over. Start somewhere and we can lift ourselves (and each other) up.