During this semester we have discussed the concept of “Faith, Hope, and Love” in the context of different trips, unit studies and general concepts that we’ve been learning. In every context, discussing these three concepts tends to provoke the question of how can we still behave in this God-honoring way despite the ugly and hurtful things we see, hear, and even experience.
I’ve realized that due to my living situation (which includes my family, our neighbors, the nearby hostel and shop-keepers, etc.) I have seen and experienced both a lot of love and a lot of mistreatment.
One particular concept that I owned in my heart before I came to Uganda but has been strengthened since living here is that the hurt, messed-up, people that are screwing their lives up, are the ones that need love the most…not punishment. I have even told one individual:
“The moment you see punishment and disdain provoking repentance and conviction from one of those screwed up people, you let me know. I will assume I have somehow managed to escape to a different world.”
This realization began with Ugandans’ views toward homosexuals. How in the world is a homophobic society that will do nothing for the gay community except for seek to kill and torture them, supposed to help this struggling minority make their way out of their sinful habits, reflect on why they are the way they are and then move forward into a new and refreshing style of living? Their hateful attitudes only hurt the homosexuals more. It is some love that they need. Love, in this context, does not mean acceptance. But even acceptance, temporary acceptance, plays a part. These people need to feel less threatened and hated and need to see that someone can understand that what the way they are living is not just a mere rebellious choice, but a result of something that messed up their lives early on…most of the time this leads back to some form of messed-up family life or even sexual abuse. Where on earth is the empathy that Christians should have? Did not Christ come to earth, as a perfect man mind you, and love the screwed up people?
Now the above issue, as passionate as I can be about it, is not even personal. But you know what is? My Ugandan family and their issues…that is personal to me. My little brother Mark, who is 12, has been having a lot of issues. He is making poor choices and then staying out late, afraid to come back home for fear of being disciplined. But just last night, I discovered a good amount of money missing out of my wallet. The last two times this has happened, I have reported to Mama but there has been no proof one way or the other who it could be and, of course, no one will confess. Thus, it puts utter stress on Mama. As frustrated as I was that I had to keep things so secured in my own house, I wasn’t about to tell Mama about it again. But apparently Mark’s friends had seen him spending money aimlessly on sweets and other things and reported this to Mama. So now there was proof and when Mama questioned me about it, I confessed of my missing money. Mark didn’t come home last night…at least not while we were all awake. I saw him sneaking around the house and so I called my brother David out who went to search for him with Jenniffer. We ended up locking and up and going to sleep and somehow found Mark in the house in the morning…no idea how he got inside.
Mama told me last night that although I didn’t want her to, she wanted to pay me back for what Mark had stolen and also that she was sending him away. She knows how I feel compassion for Mark, but she told me I needed to trust her in this decision and not oppose it.
You know what hurts my heart? My protection and even my money is being held at higher value than Mark’s well-being. I know it is perhaps the wise thing to do. But everyone knows that whether Mark goes to his mother’s or his father’s house, he will be not be properly loved on. That kid is MESSED UP…but what he needs is for someone to love on him, to have faith that he can change, to be hopeful in his future. At this point, I don’t think there is a single individual who feels anything but resentment about him.
It’s not necessarily their fault…it’s culture, somehow. But I was even telling Muzungu that the same way that homosexuals, prostitutes, pimps, thieves and the like need some form of compassion and care to show them they still hold some form of value and ARE capable of changing…in the same way, Mark needs that love. If I were here for a longer period of time I would try so badly to take time and invest in Mark. I even have tried to some extent when he’s been around, but his heart is so hard and that hurts mine so badly.
In a similar way, both the USP student who has been treating me poorly and my Ugandan sister who has been mistreating me do not need my punishment or anyone else’s. I am the victim here. I have done nothing wrong. Thus, their actions must spur from different things in their lives that cause anger and frustration and they obviously need someone to let it out on. Me trying to punish them with guilt or frustration-expression or anything of the sort would help neither them nor me. They just need to be loved.
While I feel so extremely loved around my house, there are times I feel so mistreated. But that is why these wonderful concepts that Jesus displayed during His life on earth: Faith, Hope, and Love… are so pertinent. It is what gets me through day by day, what gives me hope for others, for myself. All I can do is try to live by them and hope one day those who I see hurting and hurting others because of their own hurt will also see and experience these things for themselves.