Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Psalm of the Alien

When the homesickness washes over me in wave after painful wave,
Whom have I but You?
When the language mystifies, when the markets overwhelm,
Whom have I but You?
When children cry, and need, and destroy, and hurt,
Whom have I but You?
You sent us as Abraham into a great unknown.
Like Abraham, we obeyed, currying our idols, anxious to serve ourselves and You and anyone else who got in our way.
Like the Psalmists we have loved and hated our lives, our new land.
Like the Psalmists we have felt abandoned by You.
But without You,
Whom do we have?
Like the insane prophets of old, we have trusted You.
We trust You.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

On Forgiving the Community

I recently had a conversation with Counselor Man (a.k.a. Husband) about how one needs to acknowledge injury before one can truly forgive. It was all very theoretical. It sounds obvious, of course, but for some reason, isn't my instinct. I usually assume that injuries are my fault, or because of a rough time someone is having. Periodically, I write the person off as being mindless.

Since we've been here, however I have been confronted with a community culture that I can't seem to navigate. One that is more mystifying, perhaps, because I never expected it to be. The ex-pat community on our side of town has been slowly chipping away at me, making me more insecure than I have ever been.  It's not an individual thing, it has been a community effect.

And as I have laid in bed trying to figure out the culture of this group, and trying to sort out the why's and how's of how it works, it doesn't make the injuries smaller or less painful. So, I thought perhaps I would exercise forgiveness, as discussed with Counselor Man. Acknowledging the injuries, whether they are totally understandable or not, and try to continue to love the people in the community without the unhelpful anger that has been building up.

I also sincerely hope to be a part of healing this broken community.

So, Ex-Pat Community:
I forgive you for being unfriendly.
I forgive you for ignoring my messages.
I forgive you for your discomfort in pursuing deeper friendships and wanting to maintain an incidental relationship.
I forgive you for abandoning me in moments of truth, confession, and honesty.
I forgive you for being too busy.
I forgive you for forgetting my name, or that we ever met.
I forgive you for pursuing the presentation of perfection that only ever isolates and condescends.

I hope that perhaps this blog post can be the beginning of healing here, not just for me, but for others who may feel mystified, outside, injured, and rejected... which I suspect is more people than would ever readily confess. I hope to blast the face of perfection from this flawed crowd, so we can TRULY honor God with our brokenness and restoration.

Monday, February 02, 2015


I am convinced that without community we cannot experience God. Without the weird, the awkward, the inept, the hurtful, the hilarious, the mothering, the teaching, and the forthcoming we cannot get a true picture of who God really is.  Unity in the Body was one of Christ’s main messages, one of his main battles.   Sometimes, I wonder if Jesus is more at home in the healing contentions within the church than he is in the painfully comfortable, well maintained prayer meetings, free from honesty.   Perhaps Jesus is more honored by our confessions of failure in a community setting, than by the quiet internal battles we believe to be noble.

If we don’t encounter the irritating, how can we learn mercy? If we don’t encounter the hurtful, how will we ever learn grace?

Our lives are changed by our interactions with people. Our hearts are sustained by loving relationship and support. We are challenged by the annoying, and edified by the elderly.  We get more growth in compassion as we sit beside the tired haggard mother who is desperately trying to keep her kids quiet and in one place for 2.3 minute, than being able to listen to the sermon on the same topic.  Perhaps it is more helpful to hold the hand of the single mother, to sit next to the drunk alcoholic, to engage the socially awkward than to have a really good prayer time for them.

How are we doing community?  Are we committed to the “other” even though they are so annoying we’d rather throw coffee at them then sip it with them?  Do we hold the tired mother’s baby? Are we hugging the reeking addict?  Do we converse with the missionary who is “doing it all wrong”?
Or do we sit in our comfortable seat, with our comfortable friends, presenting a very comfortable image?

Perhaps the old adage “You cannot love another until you truly love yourself” is less true than “You cannot love yourself until you truly love another”.