I’ve been walking in the mornings lately. Trying to take in the scent of frangipani and falling mangoes, the beauty of a mountain covered in green and sunshine. Trying to sort out 2.5 years of wrestling with Thailand… wrestling with an ever present sense of guilt and shame.
Thailand, like many countries in this region, is a land of vast juxtapositions. It is known for lavish beauty, gold, silk, smiles… but also desperate poverty, sexual depravity, and human injustice. And for a person who so desperately wants to be Jesus, the weight of human need is crushing. Families can easily be seen lodging in shacks, and children with very little but rags to wear. There are stories of familial desperation so intense the only solution seems to be to sell your children to ready buyers.
Where does a person start? Is it my job to bring them all bags of rice? Or give them all clothing? Subsidize their lives?
With much of the year reaching temperatures of 40C (100+ F) we use our air conditioner at night, regularly. And nightly, there is a sting in my heart knowing that many people, including people I’ve come to love, are sleeping without air conditioning… or not sleeping, because it’s just too stinking hot. As I buy meat to feed my family with, I twinge with guilt knowing that many people can’t afford this simple luxury.
I have felt shame in all I have, and my inability to “fix” it all. I’ve felt ashamed of all the many priviledges I’ve had in my life… and it is frequently overwhelming…
So, on my walk a few days ago, I was listening to music and one phrase came through “Are you He? Did you die on the tree?” Silly rhymes. Massive meaning.
I am not He. I did not die on the tree. I am only one small part of “He”.
It is not my job to fix everything, to heal every wound, pay every wage, save every person… but my job IS to see. To lament with my fellow humanity in their hardships. Aching with Jesus, as we see their suffering.
Shame is crushing. Immobile. Seeing only me.
Lament moves. It sees outside itself. It sits with the hurting... aching and praying.
I’m trying to move past my shame. Trying to move forward towards lament, and attempting to understand the peace that passes all understanding.