April 21, 2009

The year of the purple elephant

Beth Moore defines disrespect as "disregard for someone's innate human value."

That is how I feel most of the time here (unless I'm safely tucked away in my Americanized apartment). Most of the time I feel disrespected.

Everywhere we go as a family, heads turn, necks crane, cars slow down, hands reach out to get a feel of our skin and our hair. Parents and grandparents lift their kids and babies in the air to offer them a better look at us, pointing their fingers, gasping - like they have spotted a purple elephant walking down the road. If we stop and tarry at any point, a crowd quickly gathers, and someone tries to pick up one of our children, which makes Bright and Zion scream in fear. Recently we were at a restaurant, eating our dinner, and a woman and her child walked in off the street and came up to our table, hovering over us, not intending to be patrons of the restaurant, but just wanting to watch us eat.

Most of the time I feel like an animal in the zoo, like a display at the museum, like a science project, like an alien from Mars...anything but human...anything but valued...anything but respected.

But then, as Beth Moore puts it, from where do we seek our value in the first the place? Living here is forcing me to ask that question. Another question I am being forced to ask myself is, what do I really think I deserve? I deserve nothing. I deserve death and damnation. We all do. But I am getting eternal life. Not only that, but my life here on earth is under the steadfast lordship of a perfect king. I have a husband who is a pure joy, and children who delight me beyond words, and I have my health, and wonderful friends, and plenty of money and resources to live on. So why do I think I deserve anything else? I have been called to be a purple elephant for this season of my life, and I will endure treatment that is dehumanizing, degrading, discouraging, and sometimes maddening, and if that is the toughest thing I've been called to endure right now, than thank you Father for how blessed I am.