I remember his eyes that had so much suffering in them but squatting down to talk to him this smile peeked out and then you could see the hope that was tucked away. His name is Doug and he was 9 years old. I met him my second year in Uganda. I quickly found myself loving this boy who was suffering from cancer. We were hopeful after he had a successful surgery and he came to me rejoicing with those hopeful eyes now bright that he was going to be ok. I cried, I praised. It was a month later that we received the shocking news that Doug met Jesus face to face.It was one of my first real losses in Uganda, one that my heart loved and one I allowed myself to love and go into the trenches with. It was the first taste of the suffering here. I had seen it, experienced it in other’s stories, looked from a distance, but this little boy I went with him into his suffering. Suffering that leaded to His glory, His presence and Doug’s forever healing.
I have realized something about myself within the last year. I have always had the gift to go deep with people. It’s what I lived for. My friendships and people who were around me were where I found my passion come alive. Walking with people in the hard was where I always found myself and it wasn’t always on purpose. To move to Uganda, where everyone knows whether you have set foot here or not that suffering and hard is daily bread of these beautiful people, it was all I could do not to want to know everyone and their stories as I begin meeting people. So many. So much injustice. So much dying. So much I didn’t understand but as I walked with those few I saw joy and Him like I never had. I remember coming back to the States and when I found myself in worship, I would rejoice over the deaths of those I knew, rejoice of the sufferings of the stories of those on the other side of the world, because it is where He was found. It is the strangest place. For us to live, is Christ. And in His death and suffering. And I was alive. Alive in a way I had never been before standing among the tombstones and the wounded.
Today, I am still surrounded. Everywhere I look. Even more so now. The longer you live here the more you understand and you see past the surface. But I am not alive like I used to be, rejoicing in this place with Him when everyone around you would look at you like you were crazy considering your circumstances. What happened to me?
I stopped loving deeply from the heart. I stopped going deep. I began protecting myself. Protecting myself from the lies, the hopelessness, the stories that I hear and know the endings, the injustice, the evil, the pain. Surface level loving is what I have perfected. I have never been one to do surface level friendships. So of course I don’t feel like myself, because it’s not me.
I have 57 littles that I love deeply and would do anything for and want the world for them, to all know and be fiercely in love with our Savior, to not have to return to the lives that they came from, to have Godly parents who provide for them like I want them to be provided for. But the reality is, they are growing up in front of my eyes and I can’t control their destiny. They are hurting and they have begun lashing out as any child would who has endured what they have. The reality is beginning to surface that no matter how much we have poured in, cried, and prayed…He has given us the choice and they might not choose what we would desire for them and ultimately what He desires. So I have slowly retreated. I have slowly begun to detach because my heart can’t handle seeing them hurt or on a different path than what we would choose for them.
I loved being in the villages and walking among those found deep inside where most people have never been. There is where you see things you don’t understand. I would love to hear the needs and the stories of those there and pray with them and try my hardest to find a way to meet their need. I would not grow annoyed or cynical. But after a while you realize it is never-ending. You begin to cringe when you see them coming. You grow angry when they say “impa” (you give).
“Now you have purified yourselves by obeying the Truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 1:22, 2:2
What happened is I stopped loving deeply. I stopped craving the Spirit that would give me grace and wisdom to walk in the hard with those that are so different from me. While living in America, many of my mentors told me “Dacia, you were called to be in the trenches with people, it’s one of the things He put in you.” And it is true, I found myself there often. I found so much of Him there with others in the hard and when you are face down in the dirt, with the weight of life pressing you down, you find Him. I have not been myself lately because I can’t seem to bring myself to love so extravagantly and hard here.
The truth is people are hard to love. People are easier dealt with by a simple pat on the shoulder, a text, or a “I’ll be praying for you.” Especially when nothing about the people are familiar to you and the lives they live are foreign to you and a place you will never truly understand. But He did it. He made us His people. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God”. These people, they are my people because He called us out of darkness into His light.
Are we living with the intention of getting in the trenches with our people? The church? Those we just encounter for just a season? Are we craving our Father so we can grow in our salvation?