N.B. I've been in the Philippines for just over a week now, and like a moth is drawn to the light, my brain continues to search for meanings for the thousands of questions that I am presented with every day.
Ever since I arrived here, I have been confronted with situation after situation of instances where most (Western) people would throw their towel in and say, "No, I'm not doing that. Life is not fair!" But here, there is no option for that. Life goes on, through storm, pain and disaster. Survival is key. I have no doubt there are people in the West like that also, but I fear that they may be fewer and further between. Not because the West is a particularly bad place, but because I believe life circumstances grow people, and fewer there know the real meaning of mere survival.
A few months ago; whilst on train going nowhere; I was listening to a Youthwork Podcast, and the guest Pip Wilson said something that has stuck with me ever since, and I would say has had a fairly major impact on some life decisions I have made in the last few months:
"Growth does not reside in a place called comfortable... God does not reside in comfortable."
Read that again. Each time I read that sentence it resonates on a deeper level. It is not (excuse the irony) a comortable sentence to read. And I guess in a way, this blog may read the same way to you. I do not apologise for that, because if there is one thing that I have learnt is that sometimes the truth hurts more than a lie. Then again, some people who read this may not even understand the meaning of it. Some may be indifferent. To me, it matters not. Growing up in the west, I have seen comfortable. I have lived comfortable. I have seen comfortable excelerate to levels beyond understanding and need. I have also seen more greed and selfishness than I care to share. And I am a participant in that... on many levels, and I am ashamed because I am not ignorant. There may be some (and I say some, because the media broadcasts it nearly every day of the week) who don't get the extent to which poverty levels sink in countries like the Philippines, (well, most of Asia/Africa/South America) but I fear that there are many more who simply don't care. Or maybe their understanding is jaded by their privileged western upbringing.
At this moment, the story of the woman who gave 2 pennies in the temple offering resonates with me. I may not have a lot (Westernly) of money to give, but I am no longer satisfied with just giving some. Time after time after time it says in the Bible that we must give our ALL to God. Trust that HE will provide. How true is that in my lifestyle right now? I am not sure it is. I know, from just one week here that there is more that needs to be done, and God yearns deeply for his people to stand up and DO something! How can we claim to Love God, and to want to do his will when we sit in our overly comfortable houses, relaxing, seeing to our own needs, while countless numbers of children, families, elderly, are living destitute, starving, ill, dying in our own country, as well as in other parts of the world? Do we love God enough to love them?
Nearly a year ago, when I started my Degree course, I asked God to help me to grow, and I believe He has some amazing plans to help me do that, put I don't think it involves sitting around watching TV. Praise God.
"Try kissing some scars.
Try walking in someone else's shoes.
Try making a mistake as a learning experience.
Try loving the unlovely.
Try a vision for others not self.
Try downward mobility instead of upwards.
Try a worse home.
Try a poorer community.
Try a battered and hopeless church.
Try disturbing your comfortable.
Try comforting your disturbed.
Try pain when comfortable.
Try comfort when in pain.
Try grit in your oyster.
Try loving yourself like you have never been hurt."