The other day on the bus Iyanah and Mallorie asked to move to the front to tell me something. They were the last two kids on the bus so when we stopped at a red light I let them make their way up to me. They told me that they both wanted to be me. I was flattered. Thoughts flooded my head, who wouldn’t want to be me? I’m funny, I’m nice, I’m pretty smart…
Then they kept talking and my heart sank.
“We wish we were you because if we were you we’d help that lady who is sick on the side of the road.”
Insert lump forming in my throat.
The helpful background information here is there’s this lady who sits on the side of the road everyday. She holds a sign that says, “Waiting on disability. Please help. God bless” She’s been there nearly everyday since August. My heart says the same thing every time I see her with her oxygen mask and sign, “Stop just sitting here and do something. You’ve been waiting since August...stop waiting and do something to help yourself.” Iyanah and Mallorie’s hearts said something different. They said, “Miss Kalie, she’s been sitting here everyday since August, stop waiting and do something to help her.”
They told me that I have a car and a job and I could help her. I kept feeling smaller and smaller.
I couldn’t shake their comments. This haunting reality that these kids saw a need that I was ignoring and were longing for me to do something. They wanted to be me not because I am awesome but because they wanted to live my life better than I currently am.
So the next day I pulled Iyanah from class. I told her how her compassion changed my heart and that I wanted to be more like her. She smiled and said, “I love being me.” We made the lady we kept seeing on the side of the road a card. Iyanah was giddy with joy, and to be honest, I was too. I had rounded up fifteen dollars and a blanket and the anticipation of giving our friend these things literally felt like Christmas day to me.
Our plan was pretty simple. Pull up, hop off, give her the gifts and tell her we are praying for her to get better soon, get back on the bus.
The plan worked.
Iyanah hopped off. Gave the gifts. The lady cried. Iyanah squealed with joy. And we all shared a holy moment. A holy moment of love and joy and smiles and peace on earth.
And now I’m sitting here feeling all the feels realizing that the world needs more Iyanah’s. Realizing that UCA kids have big dreams and it’s the grown-ups that have the resources. It's the grown ups that need to be listening to them.
As we pulled up to the corner where our sick friend sits everyday, I sent a message to some friends and said, “if you feel the earth start to shake, it’s because Iyanah is about to change the world.” I believe Iyanah changed the world that day. She changed my world, helped my eyes have new perspective. She changed the world of a lady who has sat and waited for so long. Iyanah saw her. Not just her sign, not just her disability, but she saw deep in her the fingerprints of God. She saw God’s kid sitting with a sign waiting and longing for rescue. She didn’t see what made them different, she saw what made them both human.
We’re praying her story changes you too. That it helps fix your broken eyes. That as we wait and long for the glory of Christmas day that we would look around and see those who are waiting alongside us. Waiting for a miracle, waiting to be seen, waiting for a rescue. Our prayer is that Iyanah’s courage would spark a movement of generosity. That the world would continue to shake with the joy of being active participants in God’s great redemption story.
When Iyanah got back on the bus after giving her gift she said she was happy because her new friend was happy. The joy of Jesus was found in sacrifice, and I think Iyanah is right in saying that our joy will be richest when we act like Jesus and sacrifice.
Here’s to an advent full of sacrifice and the great joy it brings. Here’s to being more like Iyanah.