I endure because it’s the most honest thing I can do. It’s the most honoring and real thing I can do; for myself, for those who have gone before me, and for those who long for what I long for – the courage to move towards hope and a place to belong.

When I think of enduring, I think of my mother. She has become my root. Her resilience is the truest thing I know. I am 29 years old and just now beginning to know who my mother is, the life she lived, and the power she holds. Her story is hers to tell and it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve been able to be in a place to give her story the honor it deserves. There were many years where I did not see or recognize the strength of my mother. My inability to see this in her did not take away from the reality of its existence. My inability to name her resilience during those many years did not cause her to any less resilient. Her strength was not dependent on me being aware of it. It existed and exists because she did and she continues to.

I know we are resilient beings. In my mind I have known the capacity for humans to endure is wide and vast and overwhelming at times. When I think of my mother though, this truth moves from my mind to my heart. I feel it in my bones and the tears well in my eyes.  Truth that is known in the heart is transformative. It translates, it connects, it’s tangible. I have been drawn lately to pay attention to these kinds of realities. The more I learn to trust my body, to be aware of my senses and emotions, the more I am learning to listen and look for different things. I look for the tension. I look for the open spaces. I look for those who can speak about hope, about courage, about strength in a way that can only come from a life, from an experience, of feeling the intimacy of pain. I didn’t realize this until now, but my whole life my mother was teaching the me the significance of these things. I wonder often if there is a more valuable lesson one could learn from another?

The older I get, the more comfortable I am with not having answers. The process has become everything for me. The destination, not so much. The ability to hold tension, to let it exist and to let it guide me, is a reality I have come to embrace. The more I grow in years, the more I am able to look back and give thanks for being born in a body that doesn’t allow me to experience the world with clear lines or comfortable boxes. And the more I give thanks for having a mother who knows this reality in the truest, deepest way. Her life is not my life, but I do believe that the same core of resilience that is in her is in me.


Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo


IMG_4396Ra Mendoza is Mission Year’s Recruitment, Academic, and Diversity Coordinator and a 2009-10 Mission Year Philadelphia alumni. She has an MA from Eastern University and is pursuing a second MA at McCormick Theological Seminary.