….of asking God to break your heart for the things that break His. He has been faithful to answering that prayer in my life recently but some days; like yesterday, I just cannot stop crying. I melted into a sad and snotty mess right there under the dusty mosquito net squeezing my pillow and willing myself to stop. But I wasn’t crying in a depressed, feel sorry for myself, kinda normal for me way but rather because I feel like I am exposed, raw, more real than ever before. In a way that drives me to my knees. The more I get to know the people here, the more I listen, hear their life stories, challenges, and struggles the more I desperately want them to have peace, love, healing, joy, and abundance in their lives. The more the pain, struggle, and sin here digs, burrows, and settles into my soul causing me to live differently. Causes me to work out my own salvation in new ways.
The first year and a half we lived here I was just taking in everything, struggling so much with language and culture, and everything was so new. I was lost many days in the different-ness of this place and it was easy to only see that which was new or culturally interesting or the charming aspects of life here. But over this last 6 months God has been showing me the darker side. I usually do not write about this much because I love the people here. So much. And I want to share their beauty with you all. To allow others to glimpse what I am so privileged to live amongst everyday. And for me to allow anyone to stereotype or “write off” the people here causes my heart to ache and my soul to shutter lest we ever forget the command to love all people. But lately God has been breaking my heart for the pain, suffering, and sin here. And after many tears, processing, and praying I felt I need to share. The side you may not see in smiley cute pictures of watoto I often post.
Yesterday some girlfriends told me about the 10 infants found in a trash pit wrapped in a hospital sheet. 5 Girls and 5 boys between 1 day old and 7 days old. Murdered and dumped in a disgusting, dirty, vile, garbage dump. I have to admit this makes me sometimes wonder “God, where are you? Why did you not stop this?” and then I am reminded of how black our sin is. All of it. How fallen and evil and crying out for redemption this earth is. That sin is what held Jesus on the cross. But still it makes me so sad. What really made me lose it was then listening to 4 different women (separate from each other) tell me that they know this happens “all the time here.” I was expecting some “those mainland people are the ones who do stuff like that not us” commentary. That is more the usual fare I get regarding anything formidable, dreadful, or criminal. But no, they just admitted in a matter of a fact way it happens “all the time.” I then sat on the mat and then listened to stories of desperate women having babies and bribing doctors to “get rid” of the baby, women drowning their own newborns in laundry basins, and then putting the lifeless bodies into plastic bags and throwing them away. I retold the stories to make sure I understood and then I just started crying. Like all within me was being offended. They explained that women do it because they don’t want to raise a baby, are too young, too poor, or feel so much shame about being pregnant out of wedlock. But in my judgement I was reminded that yes different methods, different culture but this exists everywhere. This all served to further convict me that adoption is something we are called to do and even when it is hard it is what God wants. A way to express some of God’s love in such a tangible human way. That taking in as your own someone who is “outside, unwanted, or forgotten about” is a picture for what our Savior does for us. That if there is a child here that makes it past these odds to being here and he or she needs a family I have to act. Really, what other choice is there? I felt God assuring me He will use our adoption story in Big Ways.
A few weeks back I went to a funeral with all the neighborhood women. It was a neighbor’s uncle’s 22 year old daughter who died. Because she was vomiting blood for weeks. After the body was brought out 4 women started running into the crowd of us all sitting on mats trying to share small amounts of shade from the banana trees. They were thrashing and wailing and screaming. They were bumping into and climbing over us and tearing at their clothes. It was freaky. No really scary. I just sat with my friends and prayed and prayed. My friends explained that they were “demon possessed” possibly because they were part of or knew who ‘cursed’ the girl who died or because of their deep sorrow for losing her. Women pushed them back, yelled at them, or ran away from where we were all sitting. Or they just stayed where they were, stared, or laughed. I learned a lot about how people see death and how they explain it and deal with it. I am not sure exactly what was going on but I clearly saw and felt intense pain. In all of it. I shared with one women who literally fell on top of me that God comforts the broken hearted. I tried to hug her and she sat up and held both my arms and calmed down, it was amazing. So many people live in fear of evil it dictates much of their life. I think the pain for many people is so intense with no ability to understand it, see purpose in it, or see any hope. And hopelessness is oppressive.
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I so want to “fix” things but I realize over and over again I cannot fix anything, that I have limited understanding but that God breaks my heart nonetheless. Why? For me, I have felt He is showing me the desperate state we are in without His love. That I indeed am “one of the scoffers.” This is not some simple “all we need is love” answer to the complex and distinct problems in the world. But there is something profound about showing real Love. His kind. It changes the make-up of a person. It has for me. There is brokenness and sin everywhere. I pray the Lord always helps me in my pride to remove the plank in my own eye before I point out the speck of dust in someone elses. We all need this prayer because our planks blind us, robs us of valuable learning experiences, and keep us frozen from showing mercy and love and compassion because of our apathy. It is sorta like I am desperately searching everywhere for an emotional first aid kit that can bind up these wounds, these hurts, this pain. But I am realizing over and over again I do not posses this within myself. None of us do but we can change the world in working out our own salvation and demonstrating Real Love. People can be more fully who they were created to be when they have freedom that comes with knowing they are loved.
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds Psalm 147:3
Jason had a conversation with a friend this week while sitting with him at his store and shared that it is written that “God is Love.” This was surprising to his friend. That the God of the universe loves His creation, loves him, loves us. This further broke my heart that people live and die without feeling this love. I am so profoundly grateful I am loved and I know it. Not because of who I am, or what I do, but because He has a plan to bring many sons and daughters to Himself.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
But time is needed. God does not work they way I think He should and can I get an ‘Amen’ for that since my solutions are short sighted and pathetic. I need to remember not to take myself so seriously and to pray that He continues to disarm my grip on “my plans” for my life or anyone elses’. Not to think for even a minute that He who created the heavens and the earth and all of us depends on me to save the world. I am grateful He sees fit to show mercy to me, to redeem me, to love me, to change me, and to use me in this world but it is about Him. Not me.
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom”
I still am working through everything but I am thankful He sees fit to reveal to me the pain here as well as the beauty. Because it does break my heart but in a way that drives me to my knees. In a way that demands me to go deeper with Him so I can pour out Love to people. No definitive answers for sure but I am so grateful for the way God is sorting these things out for me. He gives me day to day what is needed to challenge me, teach me, comfort me, and increase my own brokenness. So that I better understand how powerful His love is. How deep is the Father’s love for us. All.