Being uncomfortable

Here’s the post I deleted from Facebook:

Proofreading an academic paper on child soldiers in The Congo. Man. I need a hug. (I’ve already had an oversized molasses cookie.)

Ugh. I’m a little disgusted to even write it here.

My counselor would say it’s not my fault that children in The Congo are forced to join the army, that they are raped and beaten while I sit in a nice coffee shop uncomfortably cold in the A/C, consuming $5-worth of Peach Ginger tea and an oversized cookie someone else made for me.

It’s not my fault that many of these children aren’t welcomed back into their communities — the communities that sat by while their childhood was stolen — when I feel like I have homes in at least three states and two countries.

It’s not my fault that most of the young girls spend their adolescence worrying about how to keep their bodies safe to give birth to unplanned pregnancies while I pontificate about my need for emotional support.

And, no, it’s not my fault. I didn’t cause any of those horrors, but they are horrors. Ignoring the emotion of such a heavy topic or my own emotional needs doesn’t help the children of The Congo.

But, it sure does sting. It sure does put the things I complain about into perspective. In fact, it makes me never want to complain again.

About how the clothes I have aren’t good enough even though they are all practically new. About how I don’t have anything “fun” to eat for lunch even though my refrigerator and pantry are full of food and we have resources to buy more. About how I have three bedrooms in my house with space for guests and a way to heat and cool it to my comfort level.

Don’t get me started on our books. I’ve been purging them since 2009. And, it’s not a problem a Kindle would solve.

The problem is that I don’t always see my life as a gift from God. The problem is that as Americans we don’t know when to stop.

I have so much in the way of material possessions when I choose to look. I’m BLESSED. I don’t have all those things because I deserve them.

I have them because God is gracious. But it’s not even about that. The things.

What is unseen is eternal. It’s about fixing my heart on things that matter. Holiness. Unity with my sister or brother. Peace. Compassion. Sacrifice.

My behavior won’t change until my heart wants something different. Something more than my own comfort.

How can I help the children of The Congo?

Honestly, I’m still processing this. But, I think it’s by waking up to what is unseen. Asking the question: am I making an impact in the ways that matter? Maybe I won’t ever go to The Congo. Maybe I should. And, I should at least go somewhere that is uncomfortable for me. Somewhere Jesus would have gone. Maybe that’s a part of town that’s not as clean as mine or maybe it’s next door. Or maybe it is to the third world.

It’s probably not inside the comfort of my home and being around people just like me every chance I get. It’s just not.

3 Replies to “Being uncomfortable”

  1. Andrea, Thanks for your thoughts. This is something I have been struggling with as well. While I do not claim to have the answers at all, something I am beginning to see is that the answer is not going to be found in individualizing our response to injustice. As Americans, we tend to think of solutions in terms of what can I do? As Christians we tend to respond by saying we should just pray for them. I’m not saying we should be complacent by any means, but I think the answer will be found when we start collectively looking for answers and actively challenging the structures that maintain such injustices. Such a route is a long and dangerous road and it is one that I am not sure where to begin.

    1. I agree. I don’t feel like I have any wisdom. Just a full heart and a big God. And a willingness to see the reality and ponder my place in it. I like the idea that individualizing our response isn’t enough. It reminds me that as the body of Christ, the church, we have much more impact than on our own.

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