Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Brief Introspective Honduras Update: The Look in the Mirror

We don't have a team down here this week and Easter week is typically a week of diminished activity at the base. This has allowed for more time to think and ponder, whether wanting to or not. Some random thoughts and perceptions:

Living in community sounds Thoreau-like but often plays out more WWIII than Walden. Don't get me wrong--Mercy International is not characterized by cat-fights and brawling. It's just that living in community is always difficult, regardless of the context. Les and I have lived in community on two prior occasions. Those prior occasions brought to the surface and caused me to confront my own judgmental attitude and my selfishness. This occasion is no different. I need grace to bestow grace.

Living in this harsher environment as also accentuated the strengths in our marriage, but simultaneously has brought to the surface the flaws and deficiencies. It's like a crucible. Great things are being ground out in our relationship; we have laughed more the past two months than we have in a long time. We have felt a sense of accomplishment in working together on some projects. The crucible is also making obvious and grinding out some impurities. That look in the mirror has made me see that there are times when I am more loving toward a poor Honduran than I am toward my wife. I won't unleash on one of them what I will spew upon her. I am very thankful for her patience and graciousness in living with and loving me.

I'm somewhat of a germaphobe. So here I am in rural Honduras. Go figure. For years I was very hesitant to "get dirty," meaning I hedged on touching dirty and, at times, smelly children. I am embarrassed to say this. I now experience a much greater comfortability in holding and hugging them. (I still will not share a water bottle with anyone, so if you ever come down here, bring your own.)

Though not appearing in this update, due to all my pics being on my laptop and my laptop having no Internet connection this week and therefore I am using a computer in the office-- I love taking pics. I find myself taking pics of the children predominantly more than that of the scenery or other elements of the country. I'm discovering that it's the children that capture my heart. And the Honduran women who struggle to survive.

One last introspective glance: the tension between DOING and BEING has become magnified while here. I can DO loving things without necessarily BEING loving. e.g. I can build a house for a poor family (plenty of DOING) while grumbling, complaining about the poor quality of the lumber and the lack of help (scarcity of BEING.) I trust that God will continue to diminish the seemingly expansive gap between the two and that some day I will truly BE loving and also Do loving things.

Until then I'm thankful for my wife and some close friends who love me in spite of the gap.

Be thankful for what and who you have.


cath said...

It is the reason we have spouses I believe...the ability to let our emotions show and not have to put on a "face". The safety I feel with my husband lets me be more open about my emotions with him, and he knows me well enough to understand me at those times, and that is what makes us stronger.

Sounds as though this is a voyage of self discovery for you; don't beat yourself up too much for being human... :D

Tim said...

I struggle with similar issues, doing and being. I often wonder why I am so caring and loving of so many when I feel so judgmental and uncaring. You would probably tell me that you do what you do in Honduras because of God. I don’t have that component (for lack of a better term) and can perhaps arrive at a more objective conclusion about why my sense of me doesn’t match the nice things that I do. I suspect we are similar in some ways and find it easier to “help” those we are less intimate with than our own wives. (I realize this may be totally wrong too.)
It’s not that I can’t or don’t want to be as kind to my wife as I do others. I just don’t do it all the time. I came to believe that she has me anytime she needs me and knows that, so I treat her well when she needs it. I also find it easier to let “raw” emotions fly at her, believing she is quite okay taking that from me. At times, I wonder why I am married and question my love. The reality is, I love her more than anyone and I AM there for her as much as she is there for me. We both know that sometimes the more important things In life are there but not talked about. If I were in your situation, the first question I would ponder would be… What would this experience be like without her? I am not saying you should do that. I am saying that question always helps me when I am in doubt about our relationship.
Also, I suspect your motivation for what you do comes from your heart as much as anywhere else. That is who you are.
My best,

Mary said...

Sometimes, that look in the mirror is exactly what we need to get ourself straightened our minds and souls :)

Steve said...

cath, thanks for perspective and balance in the self-scrutiny.

Tim, it's good to know that some of this angst is universal and not unique. A clarification: though distressed I am not "in doubt" about the status of my relationship with my wife. (In light of how much of a jerk I can be, maybe I should be "in doubt."

Mary, I agree about the importance of the look in the mirror. But isn't there an easier way?? :>)

Tim said...

Oh Steve, I'm sorry if it sounds like I am insinuating that you are in doubt about your relationship. I can't imagine anyone more self reflective and NOT in doubt about your relationship. I stand corrected, rightfully so.
Wishing you the best,

Steve said...

Tim, I wasn't "correcting' you in the sense of scolding or admonishing, and hope you didn't feel I was. My intent was simply to clarify, and nothing more. Thanks for your feedback.

Tim said...

I didn't feel that way at all. :-)