Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#sorrynotsorry // a post about being me

I love this quote. It makes my heart soar. I am a girl who LOVES freedom. I want to run hard after freedom for myself, I want to fight for freedom for others, I want to create free spaces and celebrate freedom every chance I get. I love freedom from oppression of all kinds – freedom from slavery, freedom from dysfunction, freedom from chains of injustice that have held people back. Big huge freedom like rescuing slaves from brick factories and little girls from brothels makes my heart soar. Know what else makes my heart soar? Men and women leaving abuse. People confronting the chains / wounds of their past and walking towards healing. Chains are not just physical and they aren’t always crazy obvious. Chains are things that hold you back from LIVING, from SOARING from BEING who you were created to be. And I want freedom from alllllllll chains. In fact, when I think about freedom and talk about freedom, I’m pretty sure I look like this to some people….

Some people LOVE this about me. It encourages and challenges them to be free. In many, many cases, it means I get to watch and to walk closely with people seeking freedom. I get front row seats for what God is going to do and how He will heal. It’s freaking amazing. It’s breath-takingly beautiful.

However….one step comes before the healing and beauty and freedom: The moment when someone recognizes their chains. This just plain sucks. It’s painful. Excruciatingly painful. Many people have lived fairly well and thought life was going on just fine as they’ve avoided their chains and all the painful wounds and pretended like life was just plain peachy.

Then I come along. Oops. Unfortunately (fortunately?) being FREE and talking about freedom a whole lot can sort of crash into other people’s boxes and chains. It seems that freedom shines a light on chains. It’s the “rebellion” part of the quote above. It reveals other people’s chains and dysfunction and wounds that might still need healing. The more I talk about wanting people to live and soar, the more they seem to examine their lives and find chains that hold them back from doing just that…and it hurts. It is a deeply painful process.

I have had friends say they never knew they had chains before they hung out with me. They didn’t realize their trauma before becoming close to me. They tease that people need to watch out before getting close to me because it means healing and freedom may be on the horizon…and lots of pain before that. They didn’t realize there was any other option other than stuffing their pain, living with the mediocrity of life or invalidating their own wounds. Now they do…and choices stand before them. Hard choices about what it might mean to walk to freedom and painful choices about diving into their own trauma for healing.

I’m so sorry.

I’m sorry that who I am causes you to see your own chains. I know it’s painful. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that who I am makes your boxes not make sense any more. I know how confusing and frustrating that process is. I’m sorry that my healing and me talking about healing made you realize you still have wounds to be addressed. I know that realization sucks. I’m sorry that my calling you to soar and live made you realize you weren’t doing that yet. I know how painful those moments are because I lived them 4 years ago. I’m so sorry.

I mean, I’m not sorry because identifying the wounds/chains is the first step towards freedom and healing so I’m actually quite excited for you! But on the other hand, I’m also sorry because I know the pain and because I really hate being part of the pain.

So Sorry/Not Sorry for being who I am and calling forth what I tend to want to call forth in others. I apologize for the pain you may face in this process, but I celebrate what God is going to do if you face it head on, fight through the pain and find the beauty, freedom and healing waiting on the other side. You’re worth it. I promise.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Understanding my "power"

"This mama keeps hugging herself over and over. She says she never thought she would be hugged by a white person in her life. Now that she has, she keeps hugging herself and remembering what it was like to feel so very loved" - Rita (our Ugandan Field Director)
**note: mama pictured is not the mama who said this***

 Reading that report made my heart soar, while also sobering it. We carry the weight of others with us everywhere we go. For some, we represent all the white people in the world. For others, we represent the rich. For others, we may represent our gender, our nationality, our socio-economic class, our occupation, our religion or any number of things. Is this fair? Nope. 
It may not be fair that we sometimes represent entire people groups and carry the weight of all that people have done before we ever arrived, but it's still fact. 

This fact can either annoy us or embolden us to be vehicles of healing to the world around us.

So often, when it comes to Uganda, I want to ignore the fact that for reasons I find repulsive, I bear the weight of representing something powerful. I represent white people, rich people and people of power. While this doesn't feel fair and I don't ever want to be seen as "more" powerful than any of our mamas, I also choose not to ignore this fact. I want to understand and carry with great humility the responsibility of what I bear. I want to let it sink deep into my soul that my words count. It doesn't matter why my words count, it simply matters that I take that very seriously. I want my words, my touch, my every action to convey powerful truths when I am with my mamas in Uganda. Knowing my words mean something there makes me want to run back to Uganda and hold each and every mama and speak words of truth and hope over their souls. 

I saw the men on our trip exemplify this as well. With many of our mamas have been exploited and abandoned by men, they had great reason to shy away from every man on our team. The men on our team, following the lead of Pastor Moses Okwi, took on the responsibility of representing men to a hurting group of women. They knew their meager interactions wouldn't heal all the hurt the mamas had endured, but they still walked forward to do their part. They knew they carried the weight of horrific things done by men and even though they, themselves, had never committed these crimes against the women, they chose to be men of healing. 

it. was. beautiful.

I wish you could have seen the looks in the mamas' eyes as Ashton took their photos and gently spoke to them "You are so beautiful" in Ateso. Their eyes shone with the long held desire to be seen as beautiful and yet not exploited. 

You should have seen Branden, fully of silliness, making both mamas and children giggle uncontrollably. So often these mamas work so hard that play seems unfathomable.

You should have seen the mamas beam when Justin took their babies into his arms, setting work aside at times and continuing to film with babies in his arms at other times. So often they have been told their children are a burden.

You should have seen the mamas laugh while Canaan ran through the fields with gaggles of children following him, laughing with all of their beings. To see a grown man stop his work to simply play with their children was a force of healing.

This was not a responsibility any of asked for....we didn't ask to represent all the white people to villages who said to us, "we NEVER thought the white people would want to visit our village!" or the rich and powerful to the poor. We never asked to represent our gender, our race, our wealth or even our religion, but we chose to do everything in our power to wield that "power" wisely. 

I wonder how we can do that here in our normal lives as well? How can we recognize who and what we represent and wield that responsibility wisely? 

Even if it's not my fault that the people I interact with have wounds I have not inflicted that make them look at me with wary eyes, I want to be a vehicle of healing, mercy, love and truth.