OK, here goes, little insight into why you shouldn’t put missionaries on a pedestal.
I said to Arthur the other day, this is what our life should be like:
- We should own a house (you know, have a mortgage, though maybe only if we lived in Adelaide!).
- We should be doing gardening or DIY jobs on the weekends.
- I should spend my mornings at mothers’ group, or the park, or the play cafe, or a play group or mums’ Bible study.
- We should spend our weekends hanging out with our best friends, people we have history with.
- We should be able to ask parents to babysit and Elliot should be able to spend time with them and his aunts and uncles.
- We should be able to acquire new technology when something breaks.
- We should be able to eat exotic food, or at least buy the ingredients to make it.
- We should have some degree of competency, if not in the language we speak and the interpersonal interactions we have, at least in our work or our theology.
- The decisions I’m making now shouldn’t be predicated on the knowledge that in a bit over 2 years we’re going to uproot our life and family again, only to return to the original situation 6 months after that.
In my imagination, this is the life many of my peers in Australia, in part because that’s what they show on Facebook. Of course it’s completely idealised. But the accuracy of it is irrelevant. The point is what it shows up about my own idolatry.
Prosperity. Company. Convenience. Security. These are the things I expect in life.
These are the things I don’t have because we live in Tanzania. But I still want them.
Which is crazy, because in comparison to the people I live amongst, I do have these things. I’m far more wealthy than many Tanzanians. I also have a husband who is a companion rather than an obligation. I have a car which I can choose to drive rather than walking, child on my back, basket on my head. We have an income that is paid every month.
It’s also crazy because even if we lived in Australia, these things should be well down the priority list as we seek to live radical lives for Christ, oriented towards serving others.
But none of this stops me feeling that somehow I am being shortchanged. And that grieves me, because it’s a startling indictment of the desires of my heart. It shows up my own selfishness, that even as I live an incredibly privileged life by global standards, I want more.
So at the moment these three of my one sentence prayers are particularly relevant:
- I praise you that you do not forget your people.
- I confess that I have preferred my own comfort to loving others.
- I trust that you are making me new.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.