Posts tagged faith
Disconnect

I am afraid
Of people behind counters
And of talking on the phone.
Ring
Ring
Ring
“Here; you answer it.
I don’t know who it is.”
My husband shakes his head,
Takes the phone, and says,
“Hello”
Like it’s not the hardest word.
He smiles,
Calls me ridiculous,
Kisses me on the cheek.
I laugh even though
I’m not funny;
I am not a joke.

I am afraid
Of neighbors across the street
And of visiting our friends.
“Our friends”
Because I don’t have any of my own.
Ring
Ring
Ring
My husband says hello again.
“Dinner next week?”
He raises eyebrows at me
And I nod my head,
like I know he hopes I will.
The next seven days are
Composed of dread and low expectations.
During dinner my mind
snaps a picture of every awkward silence
and confused stare.

But after is the worst,
When I take the photographs from their box
and read the writing on their backs.
Look.
They hate you.
You always say the wrong thing.
Why do you—
Why?
Why.
Now I am especially aware
That they are our friends.
“Our friends,” not mine.
Because he is the one
Who answers the phone
And I am the one who is afraid.

I am afraid
Of congregants in their pews
And of talking to the pastor.
Ring
Ring
Ring
My husband isn’t here to answer.
He’s across the room,
A link in a circle of strangers,
Talking to our friends.
So I sit next to the pastor’s wife,
Our bibles on the pew between us.
She tells me it’s the devil
Saying those things I hear;
It’s the devil
Making me afraid of the telephone,
Of being a link in the circle,
Of singing the wrong note during worship,
Of talking too much, too little,
Too fast, too loud,
Too soft, too slow.
“It’s the devil,” she says
When I bring up brain chemistry
And therapy and medicine.
“It’s the devil,” she says.
“Let me pray with you.”

So we pray.
And I try to concentrate,
But I’m too busy being afraid
That I will say the wrong thing,
Pray the wrong thing;
That she will notice
My stutters–
My halting phrases–
That I am holding her hands too hard,
Or that my fingers are too cold,
That I am too open, too closed,
Too little, too much.
But most of all I am afraid
Because we are calling God
And he might notice too.

Ring
Ring
Ring
I hang up before He answers,
Smiling at the pastor’s wife,
Letting her hug me after “Amen.”
She laughs at the devil,
Her way of giving glory.
I laugh too, even though
This devil is me
And I’m not funny;
I am not a joke.
“Just pray,” she quips, looking away,
Punching a number
into her cell phone,
Like it’s something she
does every day.
“Call on Him and He will answer.”

But that’s what I’m afraid of.

Pride and Poverty

An urban slum in Hanoi, Viet Nam. According to the World Bank, over 13 percent of Viet Nam’s population, and a quarter of the world population – nearly 2 billion people – live on $1.25 or less a day.  Photo Credit:  Kibae Park/UN Photo I've been awed lately by how richly blessed our family is. We always have food, clothing, a roof over our head, water, electricity and--praise God because we live in Louisiana--air conditioning. We are financially independent and consistently have money left over to save, to go on dates, to have family days. We've had access to tools that have taught us how to budget, and as long as we stick to that, we have very few financial worries. We are richly blessed, indeed.

It can be easy to forget sometimes that not everyone has been granted the same opportunities that we have. At just a stone's throw above the US poverty line, our household is actually richer than 99% of the world's population. While we have running water and air conditioning in our home, there are people walking miles through the heat every day for just the hope of clean water to drink. While we have money left over to save or to have fun with, there are people who don't know how they're going to feed their families for the week. And while we've learned how to budget every paycheck so we have exactly the right amount going to the right place, there are families living off a daily amount less than the forgotten change in the bottom of my purse. And usually, I'm not even aware of the disparity.

Even more than awed by how fortunate we are, I'm humbled. My perspective is awful sometimes. Pride and selfishness go hand in hand, each concerned with the self above all. At times, I have definitely been concerned with myself above anything else. That goes for finances too. Money often seems like too much when we're giving it and not enough when we're receiving it, as though somehow the context of a dollar can change its value. But it's always a gift. It's a gift to receive, and it's a gift to have the ability to help others, even if that means parting with what you have.

Every so often I have revelations like this. But they fade. I get comfortable again and forget about these things until something else brings them up again (thanks, humanity). I forget to be grateful; forget to be humble; forget to think about the needs of others. This time, I don't want to forget. I hope that no matter what happens with our finances, I could remain cognizant of the situation of those less fortunate, be grateful for the abundance we have, and out of that gratefulness, give. And I know that as I'm sanctified, I will become more like Christ: less prideful, more humble; less selfish, more giving; more and more loving of those around me. He is the source of everything good in me. May he increase as I decrease, until only Christ remains.