Day 19 is complete… I didn’t get interviewed by anyone! That was a relief for this introvert. See, Jeff and I weighed the pros and cons of doing interviews in the first place. I never started this journey thinking that anyone would hear about it, outside of family, friends, and my church community. But somehow it became a story to tell. We thought long and hard about whether or not I should talk to outside sources about it, and we ultimately decided that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to share the love of Jesus and his message to so many people. But it still drains me. I’m tired. And I’m almost half way done. This coming Thursday technically marks day 20 of Lenten practices, because people take Sunday’s off. I, however have forgotten to do that, so here and there I may take a day of from wearing the hijab, in order to make it an even #40daysofhijab.
My day started off by me taking the kids to Barnes & Noble, where I spent way too much money, but was so excited about books because my 4 year old son just started reading yesterday! While we were there, while my kids were playing at a Lego table, a woman started talking to me, about my kids etc. She told me that she had 4 kids, ranging from ages 11 to 22, and some grand kids. She said her husband told her that maybe he’d like to have a couple more babies…to which she replied, “How many more wives are you going to take? Cuz I ain’t gonna have anymore!” I immediately wondered is she was implying something about Islam…but I let it slide. She probably didn’t, right? We finished our conversation and parted ways.
After leaving the bookstore I took the kids to Chick-Fil-A. I did the “Mom’s Valet”, which if you don’t know what that is then you are missing out! You get to order in the drive-thru, while your kids are still contained, and then they have your food ready at a table when you get inside! It’s quite wonderful for a mom of two toddlers. When the girl took us to our table she said, “May I ask you a question?” and I said “Sure…”, wondering what in the world it could be. She then said, “Aren’t you that girl that’s writing those articles?” I wanted to crawl under the table…but said, “Yep, that’s me…”. She continued by saying that her friend had posted an article about me on his Facebook page, and that she thought it was a good thing that I was doing. It was an odd interaction for me, to say the least.
The rest of the afternoon I spent at home, until we had to get ready to go to dinner at a family’s house, whom we had never met before. We were connected by a mutual friend, and this family had previously lived in Michigan and had been engaging with Muslims in various areas for quite some time. They were such an awesome family! They had five children ages 9, 8, 5, 3, and 11 months…throw our 2 kids in the mix and it was a party! When we arrived I didn’t say anything about my hijab, but Jeff eventually felt the need to say something about why I was wearing it …haha.
We had great conversations about our relationships with Muslims and how Jeff has an awesome opportunity to be able to teach Christians in churches and on college campuses about Islam, and how to build bridges and engage with Muslims in their own communities. We were able to exchange many stories with each other and had a genuinely good time. They too have a deep desire to know Muslim individuals, and want to find out ways to get connected with them in our community…and honestly, I don’t quite know how to do that. I was blessed because I was able to work at the Islamic school here in Peoria, and that’s how I met my Muslim friends. But I’m not exactly sure how to tell other people to meet them. Honestly, like the young Muslim woman that I interviewed yesterday said, “…don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether it’s stopping a Muslim in the middle of Walmart or sending them a message on Facebook. I’ve had countless encounters where after finishing talking to someone, they always tell me they never knew how outgoing and expressive Muslims are”.
It was a great evening. It seemed that we just clicked. It’s great to find people like that within your community. After eating dinner and then brownies, that were made by their 8 year old, it was waaaaaay past our kids’ bedtime, so we had to part ways. Our kids fell asleep after we had been in the car for about one minute. A wonderful evening with new friends.
To all my friends out there, may we remember to strive to love our neighbors, strangers, and enemies alike.
Grace & Peace.
P.S.- I have to say, my husband wrote an excellent blog today entitled Refugees, Reconciliation, & Why Love Matters…so you should read it here.