“Stay in your lane.”
Years ago, when we told trusted friends we wanted to move to Iraq in the middle of a war, some were adamant: “You can’t do that. Stay in your lane.”
With Iraq’s hospitals in ruins and thousands of children needing surgery, we wondered if we could send Muslim kids to Jewish doctors in Israel—mending hearts in more ways than one. Some thought it was impossible. “You’ve never done anything like that. It could never work.”
Sometimes it was the voice in our own head saying it—doubting, second-guessing.
Yet from the beginning, there have been other voices, too, urging us on. So many of you chose to step in and make sure those children got the lifesaving heart surgeries they needed.
Your lane is with people—with the resiliently broken, the down-but-not-out, the lovely unlovables.
You brought whole surgical teams to Iraq, eventually into the “impossible, impassable” insurgent hub of Fallujah. You sent the first unarmed group of Americans into that city since a 2004 battle that left thousands of locals and dozens of US soldiers dead and most of the city leveled. All the while, some voices said, “Nobody goes to Fallujah. You’ll be killed.”
When ISIS stormed across Iraq and when Syria erupted in war, you stepped into the unknown yet again, sending trucks full of food past the bodies of soldiers and militants to serve families on the most frontline positions.
You rejected the idea that refugees have to wait until everything is “normal” again to start rebuilding their lives. You sat with them in their pain, listened to their stories, believed they were more than what they had lost. You helped launch business after refugee-owned business, so they could put the pieces of their lives back together, even before the dust had settled.
You keep showing up, too—to love the enemy, the other, those most feared and misunderstood—ignoring the voices that say, “This could never work in real life.”
“Stay in your lane”?
Our lane is the pockmarked, busted up road the marginalized travel. We’ll drive it, walk it, crawl it, run it together, wherever it leads. So long as we’re traveling alongside them, listening and laughing and arguing and weeping all the way.
This lane includes the marginalized where you live, too. It includes people of color, indigenous communities, survivors of assault, the poor, the demonized and oppressed on every side: both sides of the aisle, both parties, both ends of the political spectrum.
As we stumble our way toward the frontlines of polarization and division in our own communities, carrying the message of preemptive love, some of us will inevitably wonder: “Why are we doing this? Can’t we just stay focused on helping refugees ‘over there’?”
Our lane is the pockmarked, busted up road the marginalized travel. We’ll drive it, walk it, crawl it, run it together, wherever it leads.
But it’s precisely when we start getting uncomfortable that we know we’ve found our lane—when it takes us closer to conflict, closer to the person or thing we fear. When we find ourselves pressing into pain.
Your lane is bigger than you think. Your lane isn’t a country, a program, or an issue. Your lane is with people—with the resiliently broken, the down-but-not-out, the lovely unlovables.
For all of you who’ve chosen to walk this road with us, who’ve signed up to wage peace and remake worlds month after month, to all our volunteers and partners and friends around the world—this is your road.
This is the lane for everyone who chooses the world-remaking, peacemaking way of preemptive love. The lane is wide, and there’s room for a lot more.
There’s room for all.