for the sake of hard
There’s this saying:
“Help a Haitian once, they’ll say thank you. Help a Haitian twice, they’ll expect it. Help a Haitian three times, they demand it.”
Unfortunately, this saying is quite true. It’s what can make a heart calloused and it’s something so hard to explain to people who don’t live here full-time.
About a year and a half ago an orphaned teenage girl came to Tytoo’s gate. She was being kicked out of her house because she was pregnant. I’m not sure how she lost her parents, but at some point in her life she had. I’m not really sure the story of the baby’s father either. Regardless, this girl needed help and a place to stay.
And, because there still is a chance with humanity, we found a single woman living by herself who invited her into her house. They’ve been living together ever since. Once she had the baby, we employed her at the school to clean the classrooms.
It’s been a year and a half with really no problems. The baby is healthy and the mom never really gives me any trouble.
Until yesterday. Yesterday, I was unfortunately sick by the end of the afternoon with a pretty bad migraine. As I was resting, there was a knock on the gate. It was the mom. Without asking how I was – my state of being obvious as I had to of looked like complete crap, with sweat dripping down my face – she started complaining about her living situation. After a few moments, she boldly stated, “you either build me a house or put my child in the orphanage.”
Guys, I about lost it.
The human in me gets really snappy when people expect things out of me. It’s more than draining, especially after finding her a place to live and giving her a job.
But, the compassionate, more patient person in me (which is harder to locate) hates this. It’s a righteous anger because I realize this girl has not had an easy life to begin with. She’s uneducated, orphaned and now a single mother. I get it. I see you, girl, I really do. I eventually explain to her how I will not allow her to put her child in an orphanage – even after she insists on telling me “how many problems the son gives her” – because, God gave her this son and it’s her responsibility to raise him.
And then, it’s kind of like, “well duh, the child is going give to give you problems.” It’s a baby! Babies are not easy. See that three-year-old over there, yeah, she’s mine and I think she wakes up every day thinking to herself, “how I am going to make my mom go crazy today?!”
It’s really frustrating and deeply saddening to see how quickly a mom is willing to give up her child here. And on a personal note, it’s all the more frustrating as I’m raising three children who have been given up and I fight to make them mine. It’s so unnatural that it’s actually impossible to even digest some days. Does the poverty and hopelessness really drain them this severely that they can’t even fight for their own children? Is it the illiteracy? Is it the oppression? Or even worse, is it our fault as the white people who just come in with open arms and insist on taking them in?
I don’t know what the answer is, but what I do know is that it’s not okay. Or good. Or right. Or healthy. Or normal.
Babies are supposed to be with their mamas. End of story.
I ended the conversation with this young mom by telling her she needed to make a plan. She needed to realize how important she is to her son and it’s her responsibility to take care of him. I told her I would talk to some people; whom I am going to talk to is yet to be determined.
I guess I am not sure how I want to end this post because this story is not yet finished. There has yet to be a come to Jesus moment. There is yet to be a happily ever after.
I guess what I needed was to just put it out there. This is the reality, guys. It’s the reality of so many people. It’s the reality of the poor. It’s the reality of brokenness and abandonment. It’s the reality of the mission field. It’s the reality of really hard situations that involve real human lives.
It’s hard. End of story.
It’s hard hearing the stories. It’s hard always being expected to give. It’s hard being expected of. It’s just hard.
This isn’t a post to earn a pat on the back or to raise money to build a house for this woman. Again, I don’t know the point of this post except that I just needed to get it out there. Vent a little bit, ya know?
It’s hard to act like everything is okay, when things are not okay in this world. It’s hard to scroll through my Facebook feed, when everything seems so shallow and pointless. It’s hard to enjoy my kids when the mothers at my gate don’t enjoy their own. It’s hard to enjoy good food, beach days and television when so many people go on empty stomachs and live in such broken homes – physically and emotionally.
It’s hard to see God. It’s hard to believe He is good when there’s just a lot of bad. It’s hard to stay strong for the poor. It’s hard to stand for justice when injustice would be a whole lot easier.
And since I’m to the point of blabbering, I would just like to say that as Christians, I think we have really messed up. We have allowed people to believe that following Jesus is easy. We convince people – I grew up being convinced – that being a Christian is all about rainbows, unicorns and lollipops. What we have failed to mention is that if we are totally in with Jesus, like all in, giving our life and our good and comfort away for the sake of the gospel that, in fact, being a Christian is the farthest thing from rainbows, unicorn and lollipops.
Following Jesus is the hardest thing that you could ever possibly do. It will require sacrifice, lots of that. With doses of forgiving when you’ve been hurt, reaching out when you want to stay right where you are, loving when loving seems wrong and sacrificing. Again and again.
The words of Paul come to mind, when he rejoices for being persecuted, imprisoned, beaten and insulted all for the name of Christ.
“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful; yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” 2 Corinthians 7:4-10
How often do our lives reflect Paul’s description as a servant of God?
Actually, how often do we even allow things to get hard for the sake of the gospel?
I think what the struggle is for me is that so many, many, many people cannot face the realities of the hurting, so we continue living sheltered and boring lives. We are afraid to know because once we know we have some type of responsibility. Better yet, we call ourselves Christians but our lives are the exact opposite of Paul’s words.
And, what I love about the verses above is how Paul makes me believe a hard life is a better life. He had something to live for. He really was doing hard the right way.
I think I just needed to share this story of the woman at my gate to shed light on how things are hard here. How, no matter what the circumstance, really hard situations have to somehow be conquered. And, once I am aware of the situation, I then feel the responsibility to conquer the problem. Some days I just feel really alone because so much of the world is worried about dentists killing lions, gays getting married, and how good we can appear to the world that we forget to love people.
Because, let’s be honest. Loving people is hard. It’s so much easier to criticize, judge and focus on self than love.
I have yet to decide how I am going to help this woman. In fact, I would be lying if I didn’t admit how upset I am about how she approached me yesterday and the ultimatum she gave me.
It’s hard, but I think it’s time I rise up and just love.
“A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” – Galatians 6:7-10