Thank you, Kayla.

It is rare that I come across others and think, “Wow, they’re a lot like me.”

I’m not sure why it’s difficult for me to find kindred spirits – those that I feel like “get me” as much as I “get them.” Maybe it’s because I’m an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs test. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family filled with ministers. Maybe it’s because my first experience out of the country was living in large, but non-touristy, Wuhan, China. Maybe it’s because I regularly volunteered to help with childcare at a weekly homeless feeding program when I was in middle school. Maybe it’s because I spent my study abroad in Denmark learning about the horrors of human trafficking. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a gay best friend since I was in the 2nd grade. Maybe it’s because I’m a 2 on the enneagram and have always felt the need to be liked, loved, appreciated. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a family on all sides of the political spectrum. Maybe it’s because I spent close to two years in Haiti where I witnessed and learned about some otherwise truly unimaginable things that happen in our world.

And maybe it’s all of those things put together.

Regardless of what it is, while I have many people in my life that I love… “kindred spirits” are rare. There aren’t many people that I come across and think, “Yes! That’s how I think! That’s how I see the world!”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love being with people who are different from me and who think and see things differently from me. It’s through these relationships that I’ve become who I am today. But, admittedly, it is sometimes lonely in my little universe and I sometimes ask myself, “Am I the only one who thinks/feels this way? Am I crazy?”

And then yesterday the news about Kayla Mueller’s death broke.

If you haven’t heard, Kayla Mueller was a 26-year-old American humanitarian serving in Turkey and Syria and working with Syrian refugees – particularly women and children. From what I gather she was a strong Christian who cared deeply for others and worked diligently to heal the world.  Even though she was just one person, she dedicated her life to ending whatever suffering and injustice she could.

As I read quotes from her, hear stories about her, it feels… eerie. Kayla Mueller is… was… a lot like me. A LOT like me.

Her words sound like things I have said/would say. Stories about her sound like things I would do or have done. She was 26, just like me. Serving internationally, just like me. Had a mother, father, and brother who love and supported her… just like me.

And so even though I never knew Kayla personally, her death feels personal. I admit that I have shed tears over Kayla Mueller. I mourn the bright light that was her life.

However, in the moment of sadness, I also find myself feeling encouraged by her life and spirit. Kayla Mueller died following God’s call. She died fighting violence with peace. She died staying true to the person that God had created her to be – sowing love wherever she went. And so, Kayla, I will work as hard as I can to do the same. To sow love, cultivate peace, and remain true to the woman God has called and created me to be.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for your work and compassion. Thank you for being a light in the darkness.

Au revoir, kindred spirit.  Dieu vous bénisse.

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