You’ll Never Be the Same


It happened to me again. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.

When the subject came up, I felt a familiar passion rising in me, seemingly out of nowhere.

And it wasn’t like I had instigated it.

The incident happened  last weekend.

I was at a gathering of people from my church community when a woman I hadn’t seen in about two years came up to me. She wanted to know how my “mission” at the border had turned out.

Wow. The border. After just having spent several weeks in Bolivia and being back home in Virginia for a year, that experience seemed so far away. And yet it didn’t. Because as soon as I started to talk about the border, I was right there again.

I didn’t know where to begin. How to tell her everything I had witnessed. How to share the stories of the people. How to explain the misinformation and downright lies that have been spreading across this country about immigrants.

But her friend cut in. “I don’t have anything against immigrants, as long as they come here legally.”

And I could tell by looking at her face that this woman had no interest in what I had to say on the subject.

Our mutual friend — the woman who’d engaged me in this conversation — looked sympathetic. But then she admitted that she agreed with her friend.

I felt myself reacting to such a blanket statement that puts the problem in a neat little box. “If they want to come here, they should follow the rules.”

I started to argue that, yes, we need rules and regulations but do you know what it takes to get here legally? And how impossible it is for many people who are desperate? That what we really need is immigration reform to fix our broken system. But I’d lost her, too.

So, I stopped talking.

But inside, I felt the fire again. I experienced again the injustices of what’s happening.

And how ignorant we are of our role and responsibility.

And how American companies — privately-run detention facilities are just one example — benefit off the backs of immigrants.

And how the migrant poor, who have clearly suffered a lot, have more faith and generosity than I’ve ever had. I remembered their stories and their faces.

And I remembered again why I say that I can’t be at peace with a completely comfortable lifestyle anymore.

And why I can never not listen to my heart again. I’ve experienced too much to go back.

Recently, when I was on the plane heading from Bolivia to Miami, I discovered one of the Maryknoll priests I knew from Cochabamba was on the same flight. We chatted for a while about Bolivia, the people, the culture, the poverty.

“You will never be the same,” he said.

Little did he know. God had already awakened my heart. Three years ago. In the border town of El Paso.

I haven’t been the same since.change-the-world

7 thoughts on “You’ll Never Be the Same

  1. Pauline

    Thank you, Beth! And I really like getting your encouraging words. It helps me keep writing when I know at least someone is enjoying reading these posts.


  2. Rob Morrell

    Yup, the journey has begun, and there’s no turning back now – even if the destination is, at this moment, uncertain.

    Awaiting the next installment, Pauline!



  3. Ann Michel

    It is so easy to tuck this knowledge away because it has such a radical impact on so many aspects of life. While I may not be able, for a variety of reasons, to make the radical changes in my life that you are considering, I am grateful for your reminder to keep learning and to keep doing what I can to enlighten the discussion of immigration with the truth of the matter. I will pray for the courage and wisdom to do that. And I will pray for help in discerning what I can do to help the cause of migrants’ needs and immigration reform.
    God Bless You,

    Ann Michel

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michele Cavoto

    What a beautiful writer you are – and with not so easy a subject. Pauline, you know that quote you end this article with, “Sometimes a person will change the way you look at the world forever.” You are one of those people in my life! I have not done the travelling out of my comfort zone and the upending my comfortable life like you have. But, through your journey and your experiences, I have been changed and I have been challenged to look at this world in a different way. Thank you for sharing your story and the stories of the migrants you have encountered. Keep writing! God has and will continue to bless you! Love, Michele


    1. Pauline

      Thank you, Michele. Your words really touch my heart and encourage me to keep listening for ways to let God use my writing.


  5. I’ll try this again…I am so glad you are my friend, and you HAVE changed many people, and will continue to! I am blessed you are in my life, and love learning with you and your journey. Thank you for listening and responding, no matter what the task, odds, or conditions. God be with you, and I can’t wait to hear about your Spanish immersion! Many blessings, 🙂


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