I don’t know about you, but I’m not sad about 2016 coming to a close.
This year has been one huge sigh of exasperation for me. I don’t know what it is. Wonderful things have happened that I can’t fail to recognize. In many ways, it’s been a typical, and blessed year in the life.
And yet somehow, 2016 has still been a difficult one for me. Those closest to me have buoyed me up during some personal tragedies and setbacks, yet for most of the year, mine has been a sorrow that the eye cannot see.
I would be foolish to think I’m alone in this. As I have talked with friends and relatives the last few months, it’s become painfully clear to me that so many are shouldering the burden of that hidden sorrow.
Friends, I’m so sorry this year has been a difficult one for you. For us.
It’s only natural to set goals during this annual period of introspection. How can I make changes? How can I be better? How can I be happier? How can I lift those around me?
Those are some of the questions that I’ve asked myself. And oddly enough, the answer has come out of the ashes of this hot mess of a year. And it’s a simple one: #Lighttheworld.
If you’re not familiar with it, the #Lighttheworld initiative was introduced by the LDS Church on December 1. Its purpose is simple: to fill the world with light after the manner of the Light of the World himself, Christ the Lord. This light comes in the form of kindness, service, humility and love.
For me, this initiative has paralleled profoundly with the current crisis in Aleppo. Many of you know that my husband and I started a nonprofit organization in our community in April to offer aid to the domestic and international refugee crisis. This human crisis is one that is supremely close to my heart.
But I have a sad confession. I have distanced myself from the information, pleas for help, cries for humanity pouring out of the blood-stained execution stadium of Aleppo that was once the proud home of thousands of my Syrian brothers and sisters.
I’ve stayed away because of my own selfishness. Part of it is because my sensitive heart can’t take the pain and horror that washes over me when I hear these grim stories. Another more painful part is the feeling that despite my best efforts to aid this global crisis, I am just a drop in a crater-like bucket.
But I cannot continue to stay away. I can’t heal while standing still.
The truth is, we all need to care more about what’s happening in places like Aleppo. Because today it’s Syria. Tomorrow it could be a more recognizable city in Europe. Soon, it could hit (literally) closer to home. We need more drops in the bucket.
I’m not here to talk about the politics of what’s happening in Aleppo. If you’re interested, here are a few good articles to read from the Economist, a piece from BBC News about the evacuations that are (finally) taking place, and a piece in the Washington Post from back in October about what life in Aleppo looks like.
If you want to help Aleppo, there are several ways to get involved. You can donate to the International Rescue Committee. We have worked with them through Rexburg for Refugees, and they are a tremendous organization seeking to aid those in need. About 90 percent of all monetary donations to the IRC go directly to the cause, so you know your money is actually helping those who need it. You may also consider donation to Save the Children, Unicef USA, or any of these vetted, secure organizations listed here.
If you’re still wanting to get involved beyond monetary donations, here is another article about 5 ways to help the Aleppo crisis.
My point is this: kindness ripples. So start today to fill the world, dare I say light the world, with kindness effort by effort.
In my role as director for Rexburg for Refugees, I’ve had the privilege to speak at several local events and with many local reporters about what our organization does. I tell each of them the same thing.
If you are not passionate about helping the refugee crisis, or Aleppo, that’s OK. I hope you will still take the time to be educated and compassionate. But I urge you to find whatever cause you are passionate about, whether it be global hunger, veterans, the fight against pornography or human trafficking, and please, get involved. Share your time, your talents, your income, whatever means you have to make the world a brighter place.
Rexburg for Refugees was born as a coping mechanism for dealing with my own grief. Though it has exhausted me to the point of probable insanity at times, it has filled my life with enrichment, purpose and hope.
I have never regretted being kind.
During this year of silent, unseen sorrow, I have often times felt so lonely. By focusing on giving aid to the loneliness of others around me, peace and joy have once again found a place in my heart. If you too have felt this burden of sorrow and pain this year, in whatever shape it may have taken, please, reach out and lift those around you.
Let 2017 be a year of sorrows shared, burdens born and hearts healed.
Let it begin with each of our drops of Christlike love until we “sweep the earth as with a flood.”
Merry Christmas, friends.