Hardly a day goes by that I don’t remember what I’m about to share with you. Shortly after we arrived in Uganda, I was discussing my family with a local man. He said, “Your mother. What does she do in America?”
I told him that she has a degree in marriage and family counseling, which is something she used frequently in her role as a pastor’s wife. He squinted his eyes with curiosity.
“What?” I asked, “Don’t you have counselors here?”
He shook his head and replied, “We are all counselors.”
As we continued speaking, I realized that my understanding and expectations of relationships and community fell far short of his. Africans have earned a worldwide reputation for being a community-minded people. Now that I live among them, I can tell you that the reputation is well deserved. My friend concluded our conversation with a note of encouragement, “You will find that friendships come quite naturally to us.”
I remember times during our preparation to leave the States when I considered the “ice” that would need to be broken here in Uganda so that I could begin developing relationships. What I had failed to consider was that Ugandans would desire a relationship with me even more than I with them. In fact, I have found that if there is a wrench in the relationship growth, I am usually the one who put it there! So I’ve begun asking myself the question: If up to me, how do I move this friendship forward?
This morning I was reading from a book that referred to the distance between man and God as a “cloud of unknowing.” The author challenged his readers to “beat on that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love.”
What a great example for our relationship with God and man. A “cloud of unknowing” hangs in our communities like a heavy curtain, slowing or stopping our attempts to come together in friendship.
We wonder: “What will they think of me?” or “What if I accidentally offend them?” In our unknowing, we can choose to become isolated from anyone different from us or we can muster up the courage to beat on that thick cloud with a sharp dart of longing love. May we all choose courageous love.
ACT: Is there a people group you are called to reach out to, but have fallen short of developing meaningful relationships? This month, pray that God will give you the courageous love you need, and then ask your new friend to coffee.