We all have a go-to sin . . . you know, the one that always seems to creep it's way in when you're not looking. That 'root of the issue' attitude that is the real cause of the resulting surface behaviors. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about . . . and you know what your's is!
For me . . . mine is anger. Always has been.
I love to give it other names. Prettier names. More Christian-y names. Names that allow me to continue being ugly without any of the responsibility. Names like: frustration, crankiness, irritation, annoyance, exasperation, chagrin, displeasure, and crossness (thank you thesaurus!).
But if I'm honest with myself, my response if often more along the lines of vexation, rage, indignation, fury, wrath, ire, outrage, and infuriation. YUCK! Who invited you?!?!
I've been here three months . . . and I'm finding myself in the midst of my first real bout of culture shock. Sure there's been some days and weeks here and there where I felt it, but nothing like this. I find myself having many 'bad culture days' lately . . . and instead of responding in a rational, logical way, the ugly muck of the Crank-aholic comes to the surface.
Like today, for example . . . my first interaction this morning left me stewing. My neighbor L. is in the US for many months and has left me in charge of paying her gardener while she is absent. He gets paid on Wednesdays. L. left me with cash so I could pay him every two weeks. So last Wednesday, he was waiting at my door when I got off the plane from Niamey. I paid him for last week and this week, and explained that he would be paid bi-weekly until she returns. He indicated that he understood.
At seven o'clock sharp, my morning routine was disrupted by pounding on the front door. It was L.'s gardner. 'Akwai kud'di!' ('There is money!') he demanded. I stared at him trying hard to remember what 'kud'di' was. 'AKWAI KUD'DI! AKWAI KUD'DI!' he started getting angry and stuck out his hand. I explained to him that he had already been paid last week . . . that he would be paid every two weeks for the next 8 months. This time he did the staring. My gardener heard the back and forth and came to the front of the house and translated for me. L's gardener said the Hausa equivalent of 'Oh.' got on his motorcycle and left.
But at that point the damage had been done. I was angry! How dare he speak to me that way!! Who does he think he is?? I'm not one of his wives that he use that tone with me!! And what happened to 'in Hausa culture it is incredibly rude to speak to someone without greeting them first, if you have a demand, it can wait, greetings come first!'??
My whole minute commute to the hospital it was stew-stew-stew.
Then I walked in the door and was bombarded with 'the patient in this bed needs crutches . . . and that bed . . . and that bed over there!' 'But we still don't have any crutches.' 'What?? STILL??? Then you should go down to the shop and make them yourself!' I thought to myself, 'did the nurse REALLY just say that to me??' And yes, she did. My cranky-level went from 'stewing' to 'annoyed.'
By the third person-who-shouldn't-be-involved-but-is-telling-me-about-which-patients-need-crutches-that-we-still-don't-have, 'annoyance' had elevated to 'infuriation'. So you can imagine where I was on the spectrum when I went to the shop to find out where 'we' were in the solving-the-problem-of-no-more-crutches and was told that the supervisor had found six pairs in storage that we had all been told weren't there. That's right! Inside, I hit 'outrage'.
Thanks to the powerful work of the Spirit my face only showed 'irritation' . . . but deep in my heart, where only Jesus sees (and therefore, where it really matters), I had blown a gasket. I wanted to run down the street screaming 'I HATE THE MEN OF THIS CULTURE!'
But since when is it right or acceptable to hate anyone?? Jesus told me I could be angry (at the things that make Him angry), so long as I don't sin in the process . . . and on top of that He told me that I am to love, not just the people who are nice to me, but my enemies too . . . and wasn't He the ultimate example of that? We see in the Gospels times when Jesus gets pissed off! He reacts, but He never acted out . . . He never threw a fit like a spoiled child . . . He most certainly over-turned some Temple tables and humbled some Pharisees . . . but then what did He do?? He willingly died in order to restore the relationship between His Father and us. He was angry, but didn't sin.
So what does that look like for me?? How can I try to live in the power of the Holy Spirit and yet be such a trigger-happy-rager? It doesn't work. Hi. I'm Deb. and I'm a crank-aholic . . . and the excuse of 'culture shock' just doesn't cut it!