One of the on going discussions Elgin and I have had since returning from Niger is why, if we think reflecting and blogging is such good thing to do for our relationship and our faith, we don’t continue the practice when we are at home.
This new blog is an effort to keep the reflecting, processing, and blogging going for us.
Recently, on one of my morning walks, I found myself blogging in my head. On this beautiful Minnesota spring morning I was walking in a picture perfect neighborhood looking at all the colorful spring flowers, the manicured, watered, lush lawns, the attractive homes with picketed fences – well you get the idea. I began to contrast the perfection, the cleanliness, and the orderliness I was seeing on my walk with anything but perfect vistas in Niamey. Ugly black plastic bags, sandy, orange ground, and no landscaping of any kind is not as attractive as a residential neighborhood in Edina.
As I was contemplating the differences and admiring the Edina landscape all of a sudden I heard through an open window a very angry woman – I am assuming a mother – screaming, yes screaming, at her children. Her screaming completely destroyed the serene image I was seeing and I realized in that moment that I never heard that kind of an outburst toward children in the 6 months in Niamey. Maybe it is just too hot to add a hot temper to one’s day but the incident gave me pause.
I have been struck since being home that we go to great extents to make sure our homes, cars, and clothes look well cared for, that everything we have looks put together and neat. We pay a lot of attention to the “outside.” I know I do. How I look, how my home looks, how my car looks – I think the culture that I have bought into here puts an emphasis on the “look” of things. This is not all bad, but I wonder - Am I just trying to look good on the outside in order to hide the not so put together me on the inside? Am I using things like my home and my car to cover up the imperfections in my life? And from whom? Others? God?
I thought about how in Niamey, appearance of one’s self or one’s surroundings was not important. Oh, the women dressed well but not extravagantly. It seems to me, the people of Niamey, weren’t trying to pretend they were anyone other than who they were. They didn’t pretend to have it all together or seem to worry about what others thought. Now granted I didn’t speak French so I may have missed something in the translation.
I thought about how I like a clean, neat home and I can accomplish that by putting (okay, stuffing) things in drawers or closets – places I hope others won’t see.
Why do I need to look like I have it all together I wondered? Am I afraid to let others see “me?”
One of the things I learned in my last Beth Moore bible study in Niger was that I am who God says I am. I know I am a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness and redemption. God knows this about me too. So I want to “give up” any illusions of being who I am not and be the person God created me to be.
Anyone interested in helping me make my drawers and closets look perfect?