Ever have one of those moments where you realize just how ugly you really are? It's like now, as the snow melts, and you begin to see where it's been scraped off the roads and lies in blackened piles along the sides of the roads. I had to think of my own heart as I was walking the other day, how much I'd love for my life to be like those beautiful, unbroken fields of snow from last week, but it's more like the snow that's been polluted by the world and is uglier for that corruption than if it had never been snow at all. This is the story of one of those piles of black snow in my life.
Growing up out in the country in a very pacifist state in the United States hasn't given me much personal experience toward living through violence, but I work with people in one of the most politically unstable regions of the world, as was very painfully evidenced one year ago when Kenya erupted into sustained mob violence following their presidential elections.
As I was in the airport returning to the States from this last trip, I was in conversation with Lisa Bevere, a Christian author and speaker from the States. She'd been in Uganda speaking at women's events, and was mentioning how impacted she had been by some victims of the LRA in northern Uganda. I immediately fell into what I now call the "suffering game". It's something that seems to come naturally to me, and probably to other aid workers, where we play a game of "oneupsmanship". Basically, the people who I work with always suffer more than the people anyone else works with, and I have to pull out the worst cases I work with as evidence thereof. It's extremely ugly, but, unfortunately, I think it's pretty common.
So in talking to Lisa Bevere, I lapsed into the "suffering game", and started talking about how northern Uganda had been at war for twenty some years, but Southern Sudan had been at war far longer, and would probably be going to war again in 2011 after Southern Sudan votes to secede from Sudan.
I hope you are as appalled as I am at how flippantly I threw that out there, but if you're not, just wait.
I began building on that picture of impending war by talking about how friends of mine who work for our partner orphanages would probably out in the bush fighting, and, if that's not bad enough, many of the boys who have been growing up in those orphanages would be just the right age to be soldiers and would probably get sucked into the war also.
Fortunately for my humanity the plane began to board and I wasn't able to deprave myself any further, but if I'd taken that picture to its natural conclusion, I would have been painting the pictures of my beautiful brothers dying in the bush and their sisters, mothers, and wives watching for bombs from the air, for landmines in the ground, and for young men who might never come home.
Don't think I'm totally insensitive. I was very emotional during that conversation, as I am now in writing about it, but I am very aware of how far I am from really sharing in the suffering of my family in East Africa if I could use their pain to win a pissing match.
Please pray for me, as I pray for myself, and let us all pray for peace in East Africa. Not peace as some obscure concept that we splash on our Christmas cards, but let us pray for the tangible peace that saves the lives of men, women, and children, the difficult peace that requires sacrifice from ourselves, the essential peace that is impossible on this earth without our blessed Savior.