You know, I have many a thought racing through my mind at the moment. Sometimes I find it quite difficult to just put my finger down in one place, hone in with my mind and let the thoughts flow out through my fingers and onto my blog. Mmm, yes there is so much.
You know, sometimes I wonder WHY I do a blog in the first place. Do I write one for each of you who read while I am here? Do I write for my own personal record of this trip? Even then, I intended for this blog to be indefinite and encompassing much, much more than just these 4 short months of life that I am spending on Ugandan soil. I named it “Capacity for Culture” for a reason. The Lord made it clear that this trip is the beginning of a shaping process involving an integration into culture and only He knows where in the world (literally speaking) He is going with that. I desire to write that out and acknowledge the Lord’s hand in that all along the way….whether that is years or months worth of writing.
Do you know what’s sad? Readers of this blog will drop off the face of earth after I return home. No longer will my life be an open book full of adventures to read about. No longer will I be giving away a free insight class on African culture. And it’s not really a sorry-for-myself sort of sadness. The sadness is that many a person seems to think watching a Christian live in Africa will be like watching an action-packed, spiritual war movie. For some odd reason, many think Jesus is not already here and that He needs to be brought forth in amazing ways. I won’t even go into that for fear of some outright anger statements, but even for those who know the Christian gospel already exists here, for whatever reason it’s more fascinating to watch God at work on another continent rather than watching what He is doing right around us?
Culture is everywhere and it’s not a special word at all. There is differing culture between the my siblings and myself living on a university campus while they’re still at home and between myself and the village is east asia. The only difference in these differences is the gap.
Everyone lives in their own way…a lifestyle defined by circumstances, relationships, experiences, by-chance happenings. Many of these definers are often taken to be just simple life happening to us, but who is to say that it’s not God Himself putting together puzzle pieces to make us who we are today?
I know this is very abstract. Many of you might even be thinking, “Wow, it must be nice to be living somewhere that challenges you to think like this. I should take a cross-continental trip.” Yes, I suppose, new culture gets you thinking about such, but it’s definitely not the first time I’ve thought of life this way, and it won’t be the last.
I guess I am telling you to rethink the way you think about Africa and even more so, the outside world that you haven’t stepped foot on. I can guarantee that whatever you think about it now would change as soon as you were integrated into that culture. So what makes us think we are entitled to our set subconscious judgments of it in the first place? It truly is worth attempting to be without opinion, attempting to want to learn…even from afar, attempting to set aside stereotypes that are actually a burden to be lain at the Lord’s feet…something not possible to take on ourselves.
Has it ever occurred to you that culture is often something worth fighting against? America tells us it’s worth fighting FOR. But in culture, there are stereotypes…especially American stereotypes about different parts of the world. These are ingrained in our minds and unless we choose the monk-like lifestyle–completely avoiding media and people, there is no way we can fight these stereotypes on our own. We pick up on them whether we like it or not.
In the same way that I need to take my daily frustrations about culture here and culture back home and lay them down at the Lord’s feet on a daily basis so that I may live peacefully and without strife, it would be very worth picking an opinion that you realize is very strong, personal and unsupported (aka: stereotype) and asking the Lord daily to relieve you of that for both peace of mind and potentially (in the long run) a better foundation for making decisions or choosing words in conversation.
I challenge you to try this! For a week straight, I am going to ask the Lord for a peaceable and rational attitude toward Ugandan guys and men. I am going to ask for an open mind and loving heart and ability to be patient even if situations when the other may be in the wrong. Chances are, nothing will occur, but there is no good reason for me to walk past every guy on campus, many likely being my brother in Christ, and think negatively of him even if he is still carrying his Hollywood stereotype of white women about me and the other lady USP students here. I should not assume that and even if it was true, Jesus did not call us to treat one another as they treat us. He told us if someone slaps us in the face to turn the other cheek to be slapped again…He told us if we are made to walk a mile with someone, that we should walk with them two. I am not here in Uganda to have my white-woman rights or even to break that Hollywood stereotype in the mind of Ugandans, I am here to keep any eye on my own heart, not theirs….to let God work on me, not make Him work on them. And I just cannot let new stereotypes build while I am living in the midst of Ugandans while I am preaching against African stereotypes occurring back home. So wouldn’t it be worth it to at least ask the Lord what those stereotypes are that you are carrying in your heart? You may not even have been aware of them, but to acknowledge them is the first step toward change, my dear friends.
It truly comes down to love. Am I loving others with pre-conceived thoughts about them and shoulder-turning actions?
1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another. For love is of God and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.