3/27/10

Contrasts

This promises to be a scattered and random post. Consider yourself warned. I'm exhausted. We aren't home yet. Monday will be our arrival at the home we haven't seen since October. I've got a head cold...the first in months. I have a 3 year old with a fever (first all winter). I feel like I could sleep for days. I don't know if it's just slowing down long enough to let it all catch up with me or if its just the last week of a crazy schedule and crazy keep me awake at night itching. Last night was the first night that I haven't woke up wishing I could cut my legs off at the knees. Aili , who is covered from head to two with flea bites as well, has also been keeping me awake. Last night she slept well too. I'm hoping that we are done with these nasty bites. They kept us miserable for over a week! No new bites for a week though so I think we left them behind.

Anyway, making sense of our experiences this winter, processing it all in the middle of a very affluent neighborhood hasn't been easy. Such stark contrasts are messing with my head....or maybe emotions. So many stark contrasts, not better..not worse...just so opposite. Sometimes with wealth comes poverty of other kinds. Sometimes with poverty comes a wealth of a different sort.

I just looked back over several of my posts from our time in Baja Mexico. It seems already like a dream. A different life in a different world. A dream that I too abruptly woke up from and already long to return to. I miss those faces, those people, those children. How, when I am currently surrounded by such luxury and comfort, can I long to go back to the flea infested dust of Baja. Maybe it's because I'm still in limbo. Not quite in either home. Still 2 days and a 5 hour drive from our previous life and about a 35 hour drive from our Mexican home and family.

We really are enjoying our time of relaxing and visiting with relatives right now. Our kids are having a great time with their cousins. I was thrilled to take a shower without sandals for the first time in over 5 months. A shower in the same building that I sleep in. Doing laundry in my sister in laws fancy front load washer and drier is fun. The food is great, the beds are comfy, the company is good, the hospitality has been a welcome relief for weary travelers. I am so thankful for this time here. I can't complain. Still I can't figure out this funk I'm working through.

Too many contrasting images bouncing around in my head. It's hard to reconcile such extremes.
No one here could understand life there and no one there could ever imagine life here. Two different worlds...and I feel I have a one foot in both places.

"empty handed but alive in your hands"

I was just listening to my playlist that line from "Majesty/Here I Am" just struck me. I think sometimes in this culture our hands are so full of stuff that we don't know what it's like to truly be alive in His hands, to depend, to rely, to be broken and humble. Sometimes our kingdoms get so big we start to think that it's ours ,that we're entitled to it. That somehow we have because we deserve... because we work hard. Others don't have because they don't deserve, they are different from us, they must have done something wrong. The problem that now plagues me is that I know otherwise. The kids desperate for their next meal, covered in parasites, sleeping in cold dirt.....are just kids. The people who work from dawn 'till dusk picking the tomatoes and strawberries that fill our expansive supermarkets work harder than any of us ever have. Such a stark and disturbing truth. Reality isn't always an easy thing to see.

I can't even describe how many self-entitled attitudes, gluttonous lifestyles, and offensive derogatory comments we heard from "Americanos" (about Mexican's )on our recent travels. It's all been a bit much. Not that every "Americano" is that way , but as a society as a whole..... I know that comment will offend some...but like I said reality isn't always an easy thing to look at.

Maybe the contrasts won't seem quite as extreme once we get back to Hickville, back to my broken oven, second hand furniture and duct taped kitchen counter. The problem is I want my perceptive to change. I don't want to be a part of that society that places it's value of people on how much they own. I want to look at my old house and see the blessing that every imperfect inch of it is. I want to look at my little garden plot and be thankful that I can feed my children. I want to tuck my kids into bed with their mis- matched bed sheets and worn blankets genuinely thankful they have a warm place to sleep. I don't want the sin of discontent and the idol of materialism to ever cross my heart again. I know at some point it will. I will someday in the near future covet someone else's furniture. I will complain that my fridge doesn't close right and I will whine that my carpet is ugly. I hope that, as I write this down, I will have something to look back at and will be able to readjust my ingratitude to thankfulness. I will be able to get on my knees and confess my discontent and idolatry. I don't think that having nice things or a comfortable home is wrong, not by a long shot, I think it is the attitudes and priorities that I develop that get's me off track.

So now I've written it down. I am now accountable for it. You can point me back to this post when I get off track. :)

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for our family this winter and who has encouraged us with your words. It has meant more to us than you can know.




4 comments:

The Nieboer News said...

I love this post Carla. Your openness and honestly is admirable. I haven't ever been away to experience something like you have but I can only imagine what the 'culture' shock is like.

I hope to experience being somewhere else soon. I know that my reality here is so far from most of the world and I struggle with it. We have so much and most have so little...I feel like a horder even though we don't have what our society here would consider an extravagent life. We are very average or maybe even below by North American standards but I can't help but feel extremely rich and I want to share it!

Enjoy your fews days of semi-debriefing before you get home.

Grandpa Steve said...

Welcome home to God's blessings in your life.

You are where you are because God has placed you there whether in Rural Saskatchewan or rural Mexico or anywhere else.

As you continue to seek Him you will experience PEACE.

Laura said...

My son just returned from a mission trip to Monterrey, and earlier he traveled to Haiti. Your post reminded me of his musings. Even walking through the airport after Haiti seemed like culture shock to him. He had to decompress awhile before talking about it.

You've been a blessing and have been blessed - wow!

Christy said...

Incredible Post. I am already struggling with these contrasts and I haven't left for Zambia yet. You have articulated a feeling that has been whispering in my own heart.

Praying for you and proud of you for being one foot in both worlds.

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