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. 

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