I read this quotation by Fredrick Beuchner a few days ago and have been pondering how well it describes every aspect of my life right now.
Having grown up in the Episcopal church, the word “confession” conjures up memories of introspective moments on Sunday mornings trying to understand the vast vocabulary of the General Confession. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to love those words “we do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry”…”walk in newness of life”. Words like these give an attractive quality to coming before a gracious God and honestly laying out my sin and frustration. Tim Keller and Matt McCormick have further challenged my image of God, asking me to notice that his stance towards me is always mercy and therefore failure and doubt (if I see them in His light) can only be catalysts to bring us closer. A year out of the Episcopal church has taken it’s toll on my confessional vocabulary, but the result has proven the same. Confession between me and Jesus usually sounds something like this: I don’t want to quit. But I’m tired. Sigh. Thanks for this job. Thank you for being good. Thank you for being trust-worthy. I don’t quit. (and as this friend reminded me recently, “If you don’t quit, you win.”)
and to you, dear blog people, here is my confession: Sometimes my answer is “no”. Sometimes I think that one more day here might just push me over the edge and I struggle to come up with just 10 things each week to be grateful for. Sometimes I wish I could just quit and go home. Sometimes I wish I would never have to go home and live the rest of my life wondering how to express what I’ve lived here. Sometimes I watch Big Bang Theory just to escape and sometimes I fall into bed so tired I forget to thank Jesus that I have a bed to fall into.
but his true confession back to me (and you) is this: I will ALWAYS be enough. You can never mess this up. Nothing will be too hard. Hold it all loosely. I have given you all things richly to enjoy. Rest. Enjoy. Serve. Be wasted. Use yourself up. Love. Receive. This is what I know is perfect for you right now.
seriously? All day. They can’t be explained unless you know what it’s like to love children – to take ownership of children – who you will soon hand over entirely to another mother. They can’t be explained unless you have lived in a place where every outing, every trip to the grocery store, every Saturday morning jog, takes you past sin and suffering and poverty and fatherless children and the kind of stuff that makes Beuchner call the New York Times “that daily record of the world’s brokenness and corruption”. Sometimes tears are the only way to express things for which I have no words. Today an email popped into my inbox with the news that a dear friend in Mexico died in a car accident last night leaving his wife and four small children. To me that feels like injustice. So much of life in Uganda is injustice.
Eventually everything you’ve seen and heard and smelled and even touched here just builds up and you have to cry about it. Crying about it is so important because it reminds us that things as they are are not OK. These things can become so commonplace that we stop feeling that they’re not OK. I don’t think Jesus minds when I cry over the nasty parts of life, so long as those tears end in the realization that he is still good. Now I’m not saying that just crying about things is enough, nor am I saying that after crying I am going to the other extreme to become an abolitionist, a social justice fanatic, or someone who thinks she can solve the orphan crisis single-handedly. I’ll land somewhere in between. Somewhere perfect for me. Somewhere I was created for. Somewhere where I can rest and grow while also giving and changing and moving and shaking. However, I don’t think I can see that place, get there, stay there, or recover from there without tears. It’s sad to be there. Or rather, here. Because I think I’m there right now. But before you think that I just sit here crying all day, please move on to the next point.
Great Laughter –
all day. Because Trevor (our 4 year old neighbor) is always naked even though he has clothes. Because I promise a roommate it won’t rain and then we get soaked on the way home. Twice. Because sometimes when you put two people AND two babies on a boda, one person ends up sitting underneath the driver. Because the words angry and hungry sound so alike to Ugandans and lead to funny misunderstandings. Because sometimes Sweet Pea’s voice sounds like this snail on the movie Monster’s Inc. Because my friend down the road sometimes comes over late at night and we all have a laugh about the silly things our kids have done. Because I can’t figure out how to use kids’ temporary tattoos. Because Big Bang Theory is hilarious. Because when the babies in your house have dysentery, everyone gets pooped on. Because of the funny things little Ugandans say when they are learning to live in families. Because of kitchen disasters, midnight boda rides, and loud noises in public places from gassy babies. Because God is just funny and His world makes me laugh. Because of the stares my friend Love and I drew yesterday while lugging a generator up Kampala Road. Because I got “arrested” last week for taking a picture on a bridge and after the fact there was really nothing to do but laugh. Because almost every time I put a baby in the Moby, I inevitably get asked “are you pregnant?” and “is that a real baby?”.
So “can I believe it all again today?” Do I trust that a God who allows early death and fatherless life and “unnecessary” waiting and pain could be the same trustworthy God who provides me with daily laughter, joy, and peace? Today the answer is a yes that’s choked with confession (of unbelief), tears (because death is just not OK), and great laughter (because EH is farting up a storm while I type). Tomorrow it might be no. And that’s OK, too.
Is your answer sometimes “no”? Is your “yes” of belief sometimes choked with confession, tears, and great laughter?
Tell me about it. I’ve never liked one sided conversations.