When I think about Lebanon, I think about one woman in particular I was able to meet.
I first saw her when she walked into a Syrian refugee women's Bible study that we were attending in hopes to gather more stories. At her feet stood the cutest little two year old boy holding a bag of chips. I remember this because when another kid ran up to him and tried to grab his chips he just held the bag as high as he could to keep the other child away from his food. He later accidentally spilt his chips on the ground loosing half the bag.
After the Bible study, the woman and her mother sat down to talk with us. The little boy in his own chair to her right - one seat away from me in our small circle of six. As she started to tell us stories, the little boy kept looking at me and shyly smiling. The shy smiles gradually turned in to what I assume were dinosaur roars and laughter while his mother talked about rape, murder, and their current situation. He didn't seem to understand, he still had a happy innocent grasp on life. He is two, after all. Between the translating of her stories, the little boy and I would make faces at each other and smile. I felt bad about this, but I just wanted to hug him and erase his real life outside the small circle and draw him a better one… one with an endless supply of chips and dinosaur games. One where his beautiful mother didn't have to fear for her family every moment of ever day. One without the reality of war.
After about 45 minutes the woman invited us to her home. We accepted. This was a turning point. We were actually getting to enter this woman's life for a bit and visit with her in her home. As we walked up the dirty cement steps to her one room apartment and took off our shoes, things stated to become a little more real. There were no lights except for two windows, one in the room and one in the kitchen. The room was smaller than my bedroom and the kitchen/bathroom had a thin layer of dirty water covering the floor. Not ideal living conditions, but it was a place most refugees would envy.
As we sat and asked her more personal questions, I learned she has another son (a five year old) and she is married to a man who, luckily, is still able to be with them in Lebanon, but who can't find work except as a guard on random occasions. I also learned she is from a bedouin background and her mother, who was sitting in the room with us, had arrived from Syria only two days before to live with them.
I also learned she is 25 years old.
me: "Will you please ask her how old she is?"
her: "I'm 25"
(a nauseating punch in my gut)
me: "I'm 25 as well"
her: "Were you born in 1987?"
me: "Yes - I was"
That night, laying in the comfortable apartment I was so blessed to stay at while I was in Beirut, I cried myself to sleep. I had met a woman my age and we only have two things in common. We are both female and we are both 25.
She is a Syrian refugee, wife, and mother escaping war.
I am a free American, single, and I can only hope to be a mother some day who never has to worry about war.
She constantly worries about food and how she is going to feed her family.
I get frustrated when the grocery store doesn't have the yogurt I like.
Her shower and toilet are the same thing.
There are three showers in my house and four toilets nicely separated.
A sheep head sitting in her kitchen is a huge blessing.
A sheep head sitting in my kitchen would be discusting.
She goes to sleep at night worried about the next day.
I go to sleep at night knowing I am safe.
As we left her apartment, her two year old was crying out the window as he watched us go. My heart was broken. I thought about one of my best friends who is also 25 and recently became a mother. I pictured how differently their lives automatically are because of situation.
Again, who am I to think I deserve the life I have? Who am I to think I deserve a life so comfortable? Who am I to constantly take everything for granted?