Friday, June 6, 2014

Nams qualms

One week.

One week is all that separates my feet from Namwianga soil.

It’s hard to understand or even accept it. I do this thing where I act like big things aren’t actually happening until they’re actually happening. So right now I’m in this in-between of not being able to believe that I’m headed back and being stoked out of my mind.

Well, stoked and nervous.
Actually extremely nervous.
But not in the same way as pre-study abroad days.

This time around I know that I really only need a week’s worth of clothes and I actually don’t need sunscreen or a hair dryer or even a plug converter. I know what “the bush” will look like and I know what the people will look like and I know what my bed will look like. I can see the path to the Havens and the purple-bloomed trees that line the road and the Hamby porch. I know the voice of Ba Beatrice and Mamma and Meagan. I know the smell of nsima cooking and African rain and dirty nappies.

No, my nervousness is not in the unknown this time, but the known.

Along with all of the aforementioned good things, I also know the toll this place can take on a heart, soul, and mind.

I know the restless nights after the difficult news of sobering realities: a child leaving the Havens to return to their village taking half of your heart with them, a newborn tested positive for HIV/AIDS, the death of a baby.


This past spring semester has been one of the most difficult in my life.
I was challenged in ways I wish I hadn't been and in ways I needed.

I attended 3 funerals and grieved the year anniversary of my Grandaddy in the month of January. The different kinds and levels of grief I experienced over the different losses are too complex to recount over a blog post so I’ll save the time and space. I took Living World Religions with Monte Cox and had the invaluable teaching of the world’s major religions and then the priceless experience of traveling to Dallas and engaging in the worship of a Hindu temple, Buddhist temple, mosque, Sikh temple, Bahai center, a synagogue, and a Sokka Gakkai place of worship. Every experience was eye opening and caused a million questions (at least). Do I really believe that the 12-14 year old girls I talked to at the Sikh temple that sweetly asked me about college and what I like to do while serving me food are actually going straight to hell if they die? Or the Jews in the synagogue that even pray to the same God as me, does God not hear their 2 hour-long chants of pure desperation for His guidance? Or what about the people we talked to in many of the places who said they actually tried Christianity but found it to be “dead” so they committed to something they found more “life-giving”? It only begs the question of, “God, where were you when those people were seeking? Why didn’t you show up?”

These are only a few of the questions that made their home in my mind on a daily basis.
Some of them I’ve worked through and some visit often.

So by the end of the semester when I felt like thoughts couldn't possibly fill any more space in my mind, news of a family friend’s sudden unexpected passing, the worsening of a loved one’s Alzheimer’s, death finding the mothers of three of my Harding classmates, and a peer’s parents’ adulterous divorce made their way onto the list.

It’s difficult to feel like God is a Father who cares. Which sounds ridiculous taking into consideration all He has proved through His Son and the evidences of His goodness in this life. But when evil after evil happens, I don't want to look at the good. I want to understand the bad.

This semester I’ve felt abandoned, confused, happy, angry, excited, tired, and thankful. And to be completely honest I’m fearful that this “series of unfortunate events” might just decide to continue into the summer with what I know about the way of life in Zambia. The known, not the unknown, is what scares me. I don’t like thinking that I could spend the summer in constant doubt of God being good or God being there at all. 

I realize this isn’t your typical white girl post about being super excited to be journeying to Africa and how ready I am to hug black babies and see all the ways God will change me. Don't get me wrong, I reluctantly admit that I am your typical white girl when it comes to those things and I am excited about all of it. But my goal this semester is to keep this window into my life as honest as possible. I’m ready to see what God has in store for me to learn but I’m also scared out of my mind of what that means I will be met with and what I will find.

I picked up A Grief Observed last week and have found it to be extremely comforting. There’s something to be said about experiencing someone else’s grief and allowing it to help you with your own. In it C.S. Lewis writes:

Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble? Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. 
The conclusion I dread is not "So there's no God after all," but "So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer."

I can only hope that God will show Himself in some way this summer. Whether my questions from this past semester receive answers or I find myself with zero answers and only 100 more questions. 

Whenever it gets tough, whenever I feel pure bliss, whenever I throw myself onto my bed from an emotionally endless day, whenever I’m so happy I swear I’m never leaving, I want to learn something about Who God Is.

And I have no doubt in my mind that I will.

Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe even if you were told.
-Habakkuk 1:5

No comments:

Post a Comment