Sometimes I am so tempted to bail on the whole blogging game.
I started to write out a post earlier this week, but I determined it was too pessimistic and deleted the draft. However, I am back to square one.
I made many trips to the hospital last Monday. One in particular was to a clinic near the border. Some of you may be familiar with Mae Tao, but if not, it’s a clinic in Thailand but for Burmese migrants. The actual land it is on is Burmese land, so illegals cannot be arrested while there; but they can be arrested on the way to or from the clinic, on Thai soil, where plenty of police wait.
There is one particular stretch where all the shops of town end and fields lie on both sides; there always seem to be groups of police waiting. For this hospital visit, I had a man with me, who are generally shown less grace than sick women or children. We were also on the motorbike, which are generally pulled over more than cars. I suddenly felt very vulnerable and fearful; so I began to pray.
This sounds like a very holy response, but take it as less. Trust me.
Immediately a Matt Redman song came to mind that I haven’t heard in ages. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I won’t turn back I know you are near…” At first I kind of chuckled that this came to mind, envisioning this little stretch of road in Mae Sot as the valley of death.
Then as I thought about it, I feel like sometimes Mae Sot is the valley of death.
Bear with me for a minute, because I do love this little town, and we are truly thankful to be here. I also realize the dramatic nature of that statement, and the sheer drama isn’t my point or intent.
But here, sometimes it feels like we are all dying. So many people are dying in so many different ways. So many are dying physically, in poverty or malnourishment or untreated sickness. So many are dying in their souls–their freedom, their personal dignity and pride; all dying on a daily basis when they live in a land they are not from, not welcomed in, and not at home in. Others are dying spiritually.
I mulled on this thought for a few days, however depressing it was. I began to wonder if I was crazy, or becoming depressed. (All possibilities, still.) I decided to talk to Stephen about it, kind of prepared for him to respond that it was a really depressing thought. Instead, when I said that song came to mind, he replied that it reminded him of Mae Sot–we are in a valley and so many are dying.
After some discussion, we really couldn’t think of anyone who isn’t dying in some way.
We discussed other places where death is present–other cities in Thailand, places in America, even other places of poverty–and it doesn’t feel the same to us. The death doesn’t feel as tangible, to us at least, in those places.
But, it still exists.
And, thus, I’m back to square one: we are all dying and surrounded by death. And I have written post after post that seem to echo that. Likewise, I am back to the fact that I cannot explain how tangible Scripture has felt to me in the past couple years of us being here. I never thought that I could apply Scripture so literally, with little girls who are hungry, visiting people who are sick, and caring for women & children. I never thought I could feel the valley of death so close on my neck and the groans of all creation.
And now what?
If I keep coming back to the same themes, a blog doesn’t seem worth having. I feel redundant, and I seriously doubt any of you want to hear the same depressing themes day after day.
I am trying to sort out how to carry this and what God is doing in us and through us. I am trying to determine where we should be and how to spend our time. I am trying to determine when these groans and aches are so true with Scripture, and when I just need counseling because I’m spiraling into insanity.
A friend was at our home the other night, joining us in playing with the kiddos. She kept telling me we were saints and it was amazing what we do in the community; and I just felt nauseous. Sometimes I hate writing on a blog, because I know it seems so ideal. I can guess how it appears to take people to the hospital, love on poor children, and let them sleep in our home.
And really, it’s not any of that. It’s a lot of confusion and hurt and ache. It’s frustration at language, struggles with what is sustainable, desperation to balance work, marriage, and community. It is heartbreakingly depressing, leading me to redundant posts that cause everyone to question if we are really doing okay; or it is stories of daily encounters that appear much more glorious than the questions and fears and tears they are filled with.
At risk of scaring everyone or letting everyone down, I have never been more lost in my entire life. I am sure of very few things, most of which include Truth, my marriage, and the fact that today we are called primarily to our neighbors. God has confirmed our lives here, but hasn’t made many other details clear.
And outside of these basics, I feel truly lost. I feel like every turn is reminding me how little I know and how many mistakes I am making–even in these things I know! Even in Truth, marriage, and the community I am so confident I am to love, I have no idea how to do any of it and mistakes are being made regularly.
With these honesties exposed, I’ll try to cut back on the pessimism. I will still try to share stories, but perhaps less for a little while. Maybe I’ll focus on photos, where you can infer your own stories.
And there will be prayer, much prayer, when there is little else left to seek.