Funny how something can be on your mind, and suddenly, you keep bumping into that school of thought everywhere you turn, and often when you least expect it.
This is happening to me. The subject: discomfort. Lately, I have been feeling conflicted, confused, uncomfortable. For a variety of reasons. Adoption reading always involves intensive discourses on child abuse, neglect, trauma. Reading about Haiti and the experiences of Haitians can be exhausting and painful. In my personal realm, learning some heart-breaking information about one of our boy's family has left me feeling a sort of desperate helplessness that I’m struggling to process.
The realities of many in this world easily leave this white, middle class soccer mom feeling very uncomfortable and very confused. While in this state of discontented confusion, I read this incredible paragraph in Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder:
“How could a just God permit great misery? The Haitian peasants answered with a proverb: “Bondye konn bay, men li pa konn separe,” in literal translation, “God gives but does not share.” This meant, as Farmer would later explain it, “God gives us humans everything we need to flourish, but He’s not the one who’s supposed to divvy up the loot. That charge was laid upon us.” Liberation theologians had a similar answer: “You want to see where Christ crucified abides today? Go to where the poor are suffering and fighting back, and that’s where He is.”
A welcomed bit of clarity, that paragraph, if for nothing more than the vain realization that I'm not alone in this belief. I’ve felt this for way since returning home from Haiti. That I have so much because it’s a test for me, not to see how comfortably I can live, but how I can use what I’ve been given to benefit others.
All of these subjects leave me uneasy. For a while I was able to kind of stick them in the far reaches of my mind, but that didn't last for long. The unease kept creeping up on me. Which initially made me wonder if my belief was wrong. If you don’t feel at peace with something, then you simply must not be where you are meant to be, right?
Well, maybe not. Read this great blog entry entitled “Channel Changers”, by Claudia of http://fletcherclan.blogspot.com:
Our society has programmed us to go through life as "channel changers." We watch life like we do our TVs. If I'm sitting there, watching TV, and a troubling show comes on that makes me feel uncomfortable, I just grab the remote. I don't have to watch that... let me find something I like better.
Until we started doing foster care, I thought I had a pretty balanced picture of the world. I knew there were some people out there who were less than wholesome, but I thought I had a good understanding of the way that life worked. I felt like I was a socially just person who cared about the needs of other people.
But then I was brought into this under-current of society by force, and my remote was taken away. All the sudden I was looking at lots of things that made me uncomfortable and, unlike most people, I could not choose to turn my face and walk away. I was hearing horror stories about the children who were now sitting on MY lap. I was wiping away the tears of kids who had, at young ages, faced incredible pain. I was kissing cigarette burns on the faces of MY son.
And as these past 11 years have gone by, my life has been without a remote. Day in and day out I have to face the realities of adults who neglect and abuse children. I have to face a system that is imperfect and watch how sometimes it makes kids lives worse instead of better. And there was no going back.
As with any social issue, we change the channel because we know that if we really understand the issue, we might have to do something about it. My TV is stuck on this one channel now. But there are many other channels I have avoided in the past -- the Aids crisis in Africa, homelessness, world hunger, you name it. As long as I could NOT think about it, I didn't have to do anything.
Is your life stuck on a channel that makes you uncomfortable? I certainly hope so. Because if it is, then that means you are doing something. If you are still flipping through and only watching shows that make you feel good, I challenge you to find a channel and stay there, even if it makes you feel scared and strange, until you decide if it is something you need to change.
Because changing the world requires people who will stop changing channels.”
That post was very good timing for me, and greatly broadened my view on how I am feeling. Namely, it can be a perfectly good thing to feel uncomfortable. Doing the right thing doesn't necessarily leave one feeling at peace.
How exactly does one go about putting this realization into reality? How does a stay-at-home, home schooling mother of 5 kids under the age of 9 go about this? I do not want to be one of these people who stands around venting about materialism, consumerism, chosen ignorance, but does nothing themselves. Right now, however, that is exactly the person I am. I need to figure out how, and where, and how deep, to jump in.
Adding to my frustration, I realize that tonight, while sitting here in bed, doped up on antibiotics and decongestants and Airborne, I’m probably not going to find the answers. BUT, to my great comfort, I found this amazing prayer. Is it the answer I’m looking for? No, but it’s a start. And you can’t begin any journey without moving forward from the starting line.
"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hands to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done."