I have the hots for the IT guy in one of the clinics. Classic me move. I can’t go anywhere without finding the love of my life. So naturally, I always spend a little extra time in his office learning about medical records and the filing process.
Yesterday, we were talking to him about living in the America. We asked him if he would ever live there. Part of me knew he was going to say, “Of course! I’ve always wanted to live there,” because duh why wouldn’t he. Also where else are we supposed to start our life together? But instead he laughed and said no.
I was confused as to why anyone wouldn’t want to live in the States. We have Hot Cheetos and freedom of speech!! What more do you want?!
He then followed up his no by saying, “I live in a peaceful country. Why would I leave?”
That isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of Ghana. I’ve been so conditioned to categorize all of Africa as unruly, unkept and dangerous. But now that I’m here, I realize that it’s not any of those things. Sure there are places with abject poverty and high disease prevalence but as a whole, the country and the people are peaceful. I haven’t met one person here that has made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. At no point have I been in fear for my friends or my own life. And once I thought about it, I realized I can’t say the same about America.
I’ve been homesick recently. I want nothing more than to hug my family and eat a steak with a side scalloped potatoes. But being away from home makes you think about what home really is. For me, home is where my people are. My people are in the United States, which should make it home. But the things happening there make it harder and harder for me to call it home.
Everyday there is a new example of America’s rampant and blatant disrespect for human life. There is always something. One thing after the other. All the time. And at the root of everything, all I see is a lack of respect and a lack of love. It’s honestly disgusting.
I’m not usually the type to say anything about the news or what’s happening. Mostly because it makes me sad, so I don’t watch it. But now being so far away from my family and far away from the States, I need to know what’s going on. And after hearing about recent events, I realize I’m just as worried about my friends and family’s safety in the United States as they are about me in Africa. And the sad thing is, I have so many more reasons to be worried than they do. I’ve been vaccinated against most of dangers in Africa. But how do you protect yourself from what’s going on in America?
After reading many justifiably angry posts on Facebook about the murders this week, I scrolled past one of my old Pastor’s status that said something about how it’s our job as Christians not to become more religious but become more like Jesus. And it struck me to see that in the midst of all of the chaos.
And I know that there might be people reading this who don’t believe the same things I do, and that’s fine. That’s your right. But, either way, you can’t tell me that the character of Jesus isn’t one to emulate. He is gracious, loving and forgiving. If everyone acted a little bit more like Jesus, the world would be a better and safer place.
As I stand here in Ghana, looking at the United States from the outside, my heart breaks. It breaks for the people who have lost their lives. For the people who have lost family members and friends. For the people who think that ending life is an effective form of conflict resolution. For the system that rewards and perpetuates violence and hate. My heart aches. And I feel genuinely helpless. What can I do?
I know that I alone can’t fix everything. And I certainly can’t do anything right now from Ghana other than work on myself. As a believer, I should be doing that anyway. I need to model myself and my actions after Jesus. That’s one thing I can start doing right now. And then from that point, I need to do my best to help people around me live better lives.
I’m slowly learning that bettering the lives of people around me can be done in small ways. My millennial attitude makes me sometimes forget that not every good deed has to be an Instagram worthy act. Sometimes you can turn a person’s whole day around by smiling or saying hello or sharing a meal. So as an update from my Feelin’ Peachy post, I’ve found that my way of serving here is in small acts of love.
If we all started acting out of a place of love and respect for life, our lives and the lives of people around us would change immediately.
So.. All of that to say what?
Although I am angry and my heart aches for what’s happening in America, I think that there is power in love and respect for life.
All of the Ghanian people that I’ve met respect life and love big every day. It’s what makes the places I’ve visited as peaceful and enjoyable as they are. We could all learn something from the people I’ve met.
What’s going on in America is beyond awful and heart breaking.
We could all benefit from embodying the characteristics of Jesus because the world would be a better place if we were one tenth as loving, gracious and forgiving as he is.
People who are worried about me being in Ghana, stop. It’s honestly safer here than it is in America.