Why Analogies are Imperfect, or, Changing the Name of November

Many of you who are on facebook or are part of our support group (click here to get more info) will have some idea of what kind of a November we’ve had. Without going into too much detail, “highlights” have included:

  • getting evicted from our home
  • having a large amount of money stolen/lost
  • Heather fracturing her tibia
  • my computer dying

For this reason, i’d like to change the name of November to either Suckvember or Crapvember, at least for this year.

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Last week i started reading a book called Faith Beyond Borders: Doing Justice in a Dangerous World by Don Mosley with Joyce Hollyday. Don is one of the founders of Jubilee Partners (where Heather and i have volunteered), an intentional Christian service community in Comer, GA that focuses on ministering to refugees from around the world. Many of the stories he recounts are those of refugees who have come through the Jubilee Welcome Center. These stories always include massive amounts of tragedy and suffering, but also often grace and forgiveness.

Our eviction has been the most difficult for me to resolve in my own heart; i still get a shot of adrenaline when i see those involved in making what i feel is a senseless decision. I know that i need to forgive and move on, but that’s difficult. Which is actually what a lot of refugees say about their views towards people who have caused them pain and loss.

Now, please, don’t think that i’m equating my Suckvember with the years and sometime decades of struggle, pain, and loss that refugees around the world experience. I’m not. That would be over-dramatic, even for me. But as i’ve reflected on what i might be able to learn throughout this month, what God might be trying to teach me, Heather made the following point: She said that all we had to do was think back to spring of this year to remember that hundreds of people were evicted from their homes here in Rumbek. The reason? The government was going to be making the roads wider, so they tore down houses that were in the way of the expansion, often with about a day’s notice. The result? Not much roadwork has actually been done and the people were poorly compensated. Hmmm. Seems pretty senseless.

Her point was this: People all around us, and all around Sudan, are constantly dealing with senseless situations involving displacement and loss of property and life. Our situation could be a lot worse.

It could be a lot worse because we have resources at our disposal. We also have an amazingly supportive community here in Rumbek. When Heather hurt herself on Thursday night last week, our friend Ali got on the phone and called Tom the physiotherapist in Rumbek, who came to look at her leg. He also gave her some crutches. Then Ali helped to arrange a flight for both of us for the next afternoon. Meanwhile, everyone banded together to help Heather transport herself around town to where we needed to go, offering us either use of their vehicles or their own physical strength.

Throughout the trip i was touched by the little things that people would do for her, like when we made our usual stop in Lokichoggio, Kenya for immigration and refueling, they let Heather stay on the plane and the immigration officer went out to see her there. It highlighted for me how much little acts of kindness affect us in times of crisis.

I hope that in the future, when i hear the stories of people displaced, tormented, or killed in situations beyond their control that i will be able to tap into the emotions that i experienced in Crapvember 2010, and be able to empathize, even to a very small extent, with their experience. I’m not a refugee, but i know a little bit how it feels to be displaced. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it is what it is.

Let me close with a plug for Don’s book. Read it. Now. The stories inside are so moving and inspiring, which is needed in our world.

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