Sunday, October 24, 2010

My challenge...and yours, Day 20

Please read the first post in this series if you haven't already, and I would love to share a glimpse of our time in Africa with you here.

When we came home from Ethiopia, I thought I would never feel normal again. I didn't want to feel normal again. As difficult as it was to wrestle through all that we had experienced there, I feared forgetting... I feared complacency stealing in, numbness dulling the disparity of Africa and home. I was split in two, so thankful for the comfort of this life that I had returned to, yet so afraid that comfort would lull us into forgetfulness.

I pray that I will never forget standing in the village of Durame and handing out granola bars and smarties to a crowd of children. I had agonized over what to bring to share in Ethiopia. We had packed protein-rich snacks and candy and dollar bills, and we didn't leave our hotel without our pockets and packs crammed full. And then, Durame...and the first pleading eyes we saw were this little boy's, with babe tied to his back, clothing tattered yet his grin sparkling. Suddenly my well-thought-out treats were nothing, and I knew they were nothing because even if I filled his belly, I would never be able to fix why he was hungry to begin with. How did I think that pockets filled with hard candy could ease his hurt...or mine? I felt so absolutely hopeless, and the tears come again now, with the remembering.

But there it is...the truth. I thought I would never forget. I thought that I would not ever turn on my tap or drive my car or go to the doctor or eat a meal without remembering Africa, without seeing that boy in Durame. But I am forgetting... I can grumble over my garbage disposal and tackle the mountain of laundry and fill my grocery cart with cookie-munching kiddos in tow and not think of the baby that spent all day on his brother's back. The memory is fading. The beautiful, shy smiles of the women at the fistula hospital, they are fading too. The licorice-black feet of the woman that had lost four sons of her own and carried our tiny babe to the orphanage, her praise-singing voice is muted now.

I write this because I don't want to forget. You will read The Hole in Our Gospel, and what you learn might keep you up at night. You might write a check...or start a journey toward a new normal. But, eventually, forgetfullness steals fervor. I was told on my return home that no one can continue to feel such intense emotion...that life would eventually settle, and that was a good thing. But I am wondering about the truth in that. Our God calls Himself the Father to the fatherless. If a child was hungry, thirsty, cold, alone...would a father ever forget? Ever? At one time, I could have said, "We knew nothing about this!" (Proverbs 24:12) But now we know. And you know, too. And so, tonight, I am praying this benediction again for you...and for me.

 May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word Who is our Brother and Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore. Amen.


Mark and Sarah said...

So true, Riann. I think it's keep each other reminded of how our eyes were opened in Africa that will keep us all from becoming complacent. "Normal" seems to creep back in with time. We cannot be "normal" for their sake.

Laura said...

My thoughts exactly - I love that you keep reminding me to keep it at the forefront of my thoughts and actions. Love your insight and your continual prodding to make an impact b/c we are required to now that our eyes have been opened. oxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

It is our sin nature to forget. How can we enjoy our life if we are constantly remembering the hardship that others endure? And yet when our lives get "hard" what is the first thing we do? We run to others and ask them to pray for us, to remember us. Interesting isn't it. I see the change that Africa caused in you. I suppose not Africa itself, but the Lord using your time there to make you hurt more for the least of these. May your not forgetting be a constant reminder to me. Do not get discouraged over not remembering, do the hard work of remembering. At the same time enjoy each day and what it holds. I believe that glorifies God as well.

Anonymous said...

It is so easy to forget. Today I am mad because my desktop computer is starting to die and therefore I have to use my not-as-convenient laptop. And no matter how many times I tell myself to get over it, I actually feel sorry for myself. Silly me, silly, silly me.
Thanks for this post. May I have your permission to link to it?

MamaMimi said...

I can only BEGIN to imagine what it must be like to witness things like that, PEOPLE like that in a country your child calls home. I've seen poverty, but I've never had it be so personal before. I look forward to my trip to Africa, not only to meet my daughter and take her home FOREVER, but to see how God will use Africa to change me too. Thank you for these words.

P.S. Laura linked me over here, I'm her sister-in-law.

tonia said...

amazing post...that benediction at the end...just incredible.

thank you for being you and sharing your heart.