Monday, 30 June 2014

The Spaces In Between - Carmen Ibrahim

Growing up in one of the Christian areas in Lebanon, I was very much sheltered, not really coming into contact with people from different backgrounds. And if I did, they were mere acquaintances.

Until my cousin eloped with the man she loved, a Muslim. She faced silence from her family for a long time before they came around.

That was the first time my safe Catholic bubble had been burst.

The second time was when I started classes at the American University of Beirut, and I started befriending people from all sorts of different backgrounds, with different beliefs and convictions even within the same background.

People no longer fell into clean black and white categories for me, and for that brief year, the lines I drew in the sand, whether consciously or not, between me and everyone else, were being erased.

I grew, and I learned a lot.

And then I came to faith in Jesus during a difficult time in my life, when I was dealing with the shame and the weight of the decisions I made over the summer. I was nineteen, lonely, confused, and I clung to the first thing that offered hope and salvation.

And I made the same mistake. I started drawing lines in the sand again. I started thinking of people in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’.

A lot has happened these last four years, and I find myself uncertain where I used to be very much certain and unwavering.

But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I don’t think we’re meant to have all the answers. To think that we do is arrogance. People are vastly different, and who they are right now, at this very moment, is shaped by their experiences and what they have tasted of the world.

To dismiss that because it does not fit our paradigms is terrible. We must learn to stretch our arms outside of the walls of our paradigms and meet each other in the spaces in the between.

There’s so much freedom there.

Carmen is a graduate student at the American University of Beirut, pursuing a Masters degree in TESOL. She loves the beach and frozen yogurt. And her dog. You can find Carmen on twitter and facebook. 

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