Thursday, October 26, 2006

Life's Not Like That

Since my return from Cairo, I've begun to see things a little differently. Life's not as black and white as I thought. Yes, the character of God is absolutely good, but how that reflects onto our idea of what right and wrong is, is not as simple as a couple of do's and don'ts.

In Cairo I met several ladies from Eritrea who had fled their country to avoid the draft. In Eritrea, the government takes both men and women at the age of 17 and puts them in the army for 7 years. During that time the officers often ask for sexual favors from the women. If the women refuse their officers put them into the most dangerous areas of warfare. The ladies that I spoke to in Cairo had hid and lied to their government in order to get out of their country. They have come to the conclusion that the government's laws may be broken. Now that these ladies live peacefully in Cairo they are looking for unlawful ways of escaping Cairo and going to England or the states.

Can I tell these ladies that disobeying the government is evil? It's not that simple.

While I was in Cairo my mother and I spoke for a Sudanese women's conference. The Sudanese are taking refuge there because of the Muslim conflicts in Darfur. These ladies have learned the evils of survival. They have learned that if they don't take as much as they can for themselves, they won't live. Even when we gave them gifts and took them out for dinner, they complained about the quality and argued with each other to get the best.

Can I condone their behavior so quickly, when in Darfur selfishness is the only way to survive?

I recently learned that a friend of mine is pregnant out of wedlock. At first I blamed her parent's divorce and her tendency to think more with her emotions than with her mind. I looked down my nose at her and wondered if I ought to be the one to tell her how stupid she'd been.

What was I thinking?

At a closer look I discovered that she's still attending church and is quickly planning a wedding. She knows what she did wasn't good. She doesn't need anyone to tell her that, especially not me. She doesn't need to hear the statistics of how many relationships fail when couples sleeps together before marriage. She doesn't need fundamentalist bible-bashers to show her verses. She's looking forward not back, and with God's guidance, trying to put her next step in the right place.

Sometimes, we think we know the way things ought to be, but God usually has something else in mind.