I just finished Melissa Day Green’s, There Is No Me Without You, which is about the AIDS crisis in Ethiopia, but also about so much more than that. Never before have I been so captivated and heartbroken at the same time. I couldn’t put it down. Several nights I lay in bed sobbing, my sweet husband whispering, “Maybe you need to put it away for tonight,” while I shook my head to tell him that I couldn’t stop reading.
I’m white. I’m middle class. I can read. I’m a US citizen. I have a college degree. I am reasonably healthy and have access to great health care. I’m overweight, which means I have had so much food that I ate too much to the point of declining health due to excess, and had so little required physical labor that my body had the opportunity to get unfit. My relatively small family lives in a large house with unused rooms, and as much clean water and electricity as we want. Clearly, the level of my privilege is off the charts. I started realizing this in college, and grew a little more in my realization while teaching in a low-income school and while doing some graduate work.
But I guess I forgot. Again.
I had a mini-breakdown back in October, which is what ended up being the catalyst to getting this adoption moving forward. God wanted my attention, and He got it. I spent several hours those weeks sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor with tears streaming down my face, crying out to Him for the orphans and forgotten children. I have been noticing the last few weeks that we’ve been a little complacent. Like I had sort of subconsciously started to think I had checked something off my list and could go back to regular life now. This book broke my heart again and reminded me that there are millions of human beings, including children just like mine, starving to death right this minute and dying of preventable and/or treatable diseases. While I sit here, eating a donut and drinking chocolate milk in my size 16 jeans, typing on my MacBook.
What do I do? What do we (my family) do? What do we (Americans) do? What do we (the wealthy and powerful) do? What do we (Christians) do?
I don’t know the answer. It’s so overwhelming that some parts of my brain just want to ignore it and go on with life like I don’t know it’s happening. But it is happening. I just read this week in Jeremiah 8:11, where there are people saying everything is fine when everything is not fine. I heard Francis Chan speak in December, and one thing he said that really stuck with me is that just because something isn’t happening to me doesn’t mean it isn’t an emergency. I don’t want to be like the people in Jeremiah, pretending there’s peace when there’s not – the Bible describes it as dressing the nation’s serious wound with our equivalent of a bandaid because they were so deep in denial about what was actually going on. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want our generation of Christians to be those people.
So…what now? I don’t know. First, prayer. After that…I don’t know.
I highly recommend the book. But get a box of tissue and be ready for your heart to be broken.