My shoes caked with mud, I swung my arms back and sunk the pickaxe into the soft earth.
I heard my friend Ava call my name from across the makeshift mobile-home community. She gestured for me to join her in the house—a place I normally would not venture. I was much more comfortable staying outside, maintaining the walls of the house as a barrier between myself and any uncomfortable social contact.
But as the freezing slush began to soak into my thin, cotton gloves, I surrendered into the warmth of the house. Immediately, I was intimidated by the novelty of the situation. New people, new furnishings, and new scents whipped my uncultured senses and would soon break me down so that I would see nothing but the raw truth of who surrounded me.
Ava led me past the rest of our Orange Lutheran group and deep into the home. We entered an austere, a compact room to find a girl, about our age, sitting on her twin-sized bed. She was bald: the sad, but frankly conspicuous characteristic that immediately protruded the room.
I could not fathom Ava’s reasoning for calling me, of all people, practically incapable of handling fraught situations, into this girl’s room. Nonetheless, I had stepped through the barrier walls and could not retreat.
Soon enough, we were deep in natural, flowing conversation, discussing our favorite YouTubers and joking about Tyler the Creator’s new Christmas album. We were not a Californian and a Kentuckian. We were not a high schooler and a high school dropout. We were not a healthy girl and a girl suffering from alopecia. We were two very similar girls bonding over our very similar interests.
God works in mysterious ways, and I believe that Ava’s absurd idea to call out my name and invite me into the conversation was God working to break down the conceptions I held about myself and others. No matter where we come from or what experiences we have had, we are all just humans, living out the life we have been given. God pushed me this trip to not confine myself, but to push myself out of my comfort zone, because that is where the magic happens.
Photo Credit: Georgia Harris