Sometimes it's easier just to use the old standbys. We all have them. An issue arises, say the death penalty, gay marriage, abortion, taxes, social programs, you name it, and we simply play the recorder in our heads. We are firm on the issue and we speak our written script, dismissing the ideas of others and blockading our own ability to reassess.
This can be good and it can be bad.
It can be good because when we've made a decision on a particular issue, we don't waffle based on the latest or loudest argument. We can stay firm in our most core beliefs.
However, it can be bad because what if we need to hear a new thought on the subject? What if we made up our minds on that subject in youth or before we had all the information we have today? We are continually learning, growing, maturing, regardless of our age. I keep telling my kids that learning is not just at school and it never ends; it's a lifelong process.
So, again this morning I was confronted with an issue of mine I normally dismiss. I am against missionaries. I know, I'm a heathen. But, here's my reasoning. I believe so much in "teaching a man to fish" that I believe that we should have missionaries teaching natives in-country to proselytize. Not interlopers moving in and leading the band, but residents spearheading the process. To me, missionaries should engage in only temporary, end-in-sight duties.
I have this fringe friend who is a missionary in Haiti. Awesome barely begins to describe her and her family. They are amazingly cool people with such strength and faith that it makes me melt. And, they live in Haiti. And they've adopted Haitian kids. And they plan to stay there. Haiti is home.
A few weeks ago they were robbed. At gun point. In the middle of the night. Scary doesn't quite describe the terror they went through. I was like, get out! Get out! Get out! And, they stayed.
Recently it's gotten worse there, and finally they made the agonizing decision to break up the family. She left with the little ones, and he stayed behind with the kids who lacked travel papers. They are separated, and to them it will be temporary, until things calm down in Haiti. And, I'm thinking, yeah, things will never be calm in Haiti...
So, I struggle with thinking that they need to be out of Haiti, that they shouldn't live there, that they are foolish to put their children's lives and their own at risk, and yet simultaneously knowing they are making a concrete difference in God's children's lives. I struggle with wondering how much of their own ego is tied up in what they do, how much is tied into selfishness of elevated status in church circles, yet I know they live in a hell hole there compared to here, that their lives are sickeningly tough and most of us would fail.
I struggle with at once holding two thoughts in my head: they are fools and they are saints.
I do have to state clearly and emphatically that I do NOT struggle with praying for them, loving on them, giving them my good thoughts and highest hopes for safety and success. I do all that willingly and with an open heart because I can rise above my issues to love on people. We are all God's children.
I struggle with my own conceptions, whether correct or false, regarding missionaries and their divine calling. It comes to light with every crisis this family goes through. I wrestle with my own thoughts on the subject. And, please don't tell me to read a book about a missionary's account, because my problem with missionaries is not the people themselves. Or the people whose lives they touch. Or the wonderful work they do. Or the sharing of Christ. It's not the good they do, trust me, I can see the good works.
I struggle with trusting the ability of foreigners to make radical changes in countries where locals cannot or will not. I struggle with the process and definition. I struggle with thinking that missionaries are delusional in believing they can create a utopia in hell. I struggle with the parental directive to ensure the safety of one's own children. I struggle with Kum-ba-yah sung around a campfire and missionaries in Jehova Witness' skirts taking care of the "little black babies." I struggle with a lot of my own prejudice against rigid church standards and freakish adherence to literal Biblical verse.
I struggle with loving people and not understanding what they do, and thinking they could be doing harm but since everyone supports them, then how can they be doing harm, and if any action saves just one person is it worth it, even if you lose everything else?
I struggle. And, I pray. And, I try to rethink my "solid" beliefs.