Today, we enjoy church with the women and then wrap up the conference this afternoon. For many of these women, they have many hours of travel to go back to their village.
I have found my kindred spirit here. Reena has three boys, ages 11, 9, and 8. When her youngest was 1 year old, her husband left her. She had not heard from him since. Just a couple months ago, he called from Nepal telling her to get re-married. (If she re-marries, then he will be free to remarry the woman he is currently with.) Her story is just like so many others here – filled with pain and sorrow. And yet, Reena is filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. She has a peace in her heart that radiates out from her.
It reminds me of our stories at home. Our bank accounts may have more money in them, our houses may be larger, our traffic patterns different – but the stories of pain and suffering are the same around the world. Spouses walk out or find another, children get sick, husbands are abusive, children walk away from the faith.
We have spent so much time hearing stories and praying. Each woman is anxious to tell her story. We have come to the conclusion that this may be because telling their story to someone here is culturally taboo. Women here are just supposed to “bear their lot,” to not complain. But the presence of a foreigner gives them a chance to tell their story, to have someone pray with them, to have their story carried away.
I wonder if we don’t have some of that same taboo at times. There are times when I feel that I put a smile on and say everything is going just fine. Why do I do that? If I were to have someone from far away sit with me, willing to listen and pray, would I still say everything is just fine? Or would I take that chance to bare my soul and share what I would never share with those that are around me all the time?
What is it that stops up from sharing with the people that are most able to help? All these women have shared their stories with us, but in reality, there is really not much that we can do for or with them to change their situations. We will be packing up our bags in a few days and heading back to the States. Their stories will come with us, but they will be left here living in the midst of them.
We have been encouraging the women to find a trusted sister in Christ to stand with them through their struggles. Maybe we need to carry this message back home with us as well. To encourage our American sisters to find a trusted friend or family member to stand with us through our struggles.
I am fortunate to have one close friend that lives all of my messy life with me – and I live her messy life with her. We don’t share so many similarities like Reena and I do, but we share something even more important – we live our stories together. I will be leaving India, and Reena, behind. I will be going back to my own set of struggles. Reena will have to continue facing her struggles. We can and will pray for each other. But my friend in the States is that one that will actually live life with me. I am forever grateful to have her!