*i wrote this post 2 weeks ago while lamenting the really sucky things that exist in our world. i know my words don't change anything and i'm just another white girl trying to process things i can't possibly understand but writing this helped me find hope in despair and so i'd thought i'd share*
Today I was planning on writing a blog about celebration. But then life happened. I read news of the horrors in Charlottesville. And then I passed by unthinkable poverty on the way to church. I remain untouched by so much of it, being the white westerner that I am who can afford the nice apartment next to the cinderblock homes and piles of burning trash. Somedays I can even ignore it all, being thousands of miles away from the hateful rhetoric in the U.S. and a lifelong beneficiary of white privilege. But today was not one of those days. Today I couldn’t ignore any of it. So instead of celebrations, I’ll write about lamentations.
The word lament has never been a consistent part of my vocabulary. I hardly use the term beyond referring to Lamentations in the Bible. But in my short time in Uganda, lament is a word that Jesus has consistently put on my heart. The dictionary definition of lamentation is “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” This is not to say that my 6 weeks in Uganda have been full of grief and sorrow. In fact, the word celebration has also been engrained in my heart during my time here (hence why I wanted to write about it today). But, Jesus has been teaching me the hard and beautiful balance that exists in the world today between celebration & lamentation.
Sometimes the brokenness of the world, the hate, the poverty, and the evil tears me up. Did you know that there are more people enslaved in the world today than any other time in human history? Did you know that there are an estimated 140 million orphans around the world today? Did you know that over 800 million people still live in extreme poverty? Did you know that we are in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis of all time? Sometimes, the reality of life for so many people in our broken world hits me all at once like a wave of sorrow and I can’t ignore it anymore. I couldn’t name them before but now it is clear that those were times of deep lamentations for people and places and circumstances that I can’t begin to understand. How can you hear those numbers and not lament? How can you see the riots in Virginia and not cry out? How can I walk past extreme poverty every day and not break down? Somedays I can’t decide if the Lord has blessed us or cursed us with the ability to shut it all out, to compartmentalize and distance ourselves from the inconceivable amounts of poverty, pain, and hate in our world. I think if we every truly felt the weight of it, we would break beyond repair.
But we don’t break. Even in deep lamentation we don’t break. Because lamentation leads to love. In the depths of lamentation we find strength and purpose and motivation to love better and try better and be better. That’s the most important thing isn’t it? Loving others? Jesus seemed to think so and made sure to tell his peeps that loving him and loving others was literally the most important thing we can do as humans on this earth. And not just to love others but to love others in the same way that we love ourselves. And not just to love those who are easy to love but the difficult ones too. And not just love those who are convenient but the ones outside of our comfort borders.
You mean I’m supposed to love a stranger as much as I love myself?
What if they look different than me?
What if they act different than me?
What if they love differently than me?
What if they vote differently than me?
What if they don’t believe in you Jesus?
Absolutely. I still want you to love them as you would love yourself.
How lame is it that we as humanity so often fail at this? How lame is it that I fail at this daily? We may not be able to convince everyone else that loving others is the worthiest of all causes and that every human has equal and incredible worth, but we can do better ourselves. We can search deep within and find our own prejudices and the boundaries we put on our love. We can be honest about the systems we live in and try to learn how to work towards true equality and justice for all rather than living in blind ignorance of the realities of our world. And we can love better, one day and one person at a time.
I fool myself sometimes into thinking that I can change the world. I know that I can't and I know that my limited knowledge and exposure to oppression and injustice barely scratches the surface of the deeply entrenched inequalities around the world today. But, I do believe that love can and will change the world. So let's try to love others (ALL others) better and let's lean into lamentations so that we may find more purpose and motivation to be warriors of love in a world that loves to hate.
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
I well remember them,
Yet this I call to mind
I well remember them,
Yet this I call to mind