finding significance

August 28, 2010

There's a temptation, in arriving home from a place of desperation, to feel insignificant. Those who haven't seen what you have make comments about your work, and the way you've made a difference, and it only makes you feel smaller - and it feels natural to give way to discouragement. No one will ever be able to see a visible difference in Uganda because of the time I spent there, and deep down, there's a voice in me that I think bothers anyone who has seen the depth of need in a place wracked with AIDS and poverty. It says, "Why try?"

It was shouting to me this week. Two suitcases, 16 credits and three part time jobs deep, I lost it on my mom. And that's because we're real people, right? We return from doing work with the needy in Africa, and we yell at our Moms. We get upset about our coffee not being hot enough. We argue with our brothers. We cry, not because people are suffering, but because we want to feel like we have the answer - and it hurts to find out that we don't. We are grumpy, not because people are dying, but because of jet lag, and stress.

Or maybe that's just me.

Someone asked me if I was moving back to Africa, for good. They said, "So are you dying to get back there?"

I didn't have a lot to say. The bottom line is that I like my life, here. It's comfortable.

I think that's the hardest part - coming home and seeing all the things about yourself that make you a normal human being. It's a struggle to realize that you don't want to give up all the things you love for forever. It's a struggle to remember all the selfishness and emotion and frustration involved in being yourself.

There's an insignificance in that - perfection or bust. It's a challenge to, like my mother keeps telling me, "Run the endurance race." If it can't all get done today, I should go home with my head bowed, and forget trying.

But it's Beta, always, who reminds me of the significance in doing the next thing. The chub on her body, now, the deep, gutteral laughter - the learning to read, and the calling me "Shanny bug." When I watch her sit and read with my mom, wrestle with Dad, yell at our brothers, I know that if I never returned to Africa again, or wrote another article, there would be significance to my life, because of the change in hers.


angela said...

shan shan, i cried. because i prayed and prayed for the difference, the significance that would be made in her life. and i considered her mine-o-mine. and i ached for her to know the love she is lavished in daily at your house. in your family. and i know that Jesus is good. and He provides. and i can trust Him even when i don't see the end of the road. even when i feel inconsequential. because . . . it's not about me. and it's not even about her. it's about Him. and that helps.

Nurse Elms said...

Hey... long time.

I just wanted to let you know... i can really relate to how you feel. the "comfort" of this life vs. "the mission field"; wherever that may be. for me it's my ER... and even here in america, sometimes it's hard to see how i'm doing any good at all. but i've learned something very important (or i'm in the process of learning it) and it is that God is not interested in some fantastical glorious "END PRODUCT". His desire is for our obedience here, now, in this very moment. It is in the obedience of the moment that we bring Him the greatest glory. it's not fancy. it doesn't get attention or accolades, but that's not the point is it...