Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More Glenwood Camp Reflections

I think that it surprised me how hard the Glenwood Camp was on me. I have known most of these kids for years and felt like I understood them to a degree, having lived in their neighborhood and led them in tutoring (and even some of them in Sunday School). And yet being with them all day every day for 10 days revealed a new level of cultural dissonance and differences that I had not experienced. That made me sad in some ways, that it has taken me 5 years in the neighborhood to get to that level of immersion, and I was surprised at how out of place I felt. I had posted on my blog about the kids speaking a different language when it came to words of kindness and love, but there is just a different language altogether when it comes to understanding the world. The way that my world works is very orderly, controlled, managed. It makes sense to me. There are rules to follow, and the rules are there to be obeyed, not one of many options to consider. Their world system is chaotic, parents loving them inconsistently and in ways far different than I would ever love my kids. For them, rules are an enticement to disobedience, boundaries are meant to be tested and pushed. Order is confining in some ways and is not trusted. Authority is not a safe thing. And so placing a controlled (controlling) person with a managed life governed by rules and systems in a position of authority (not trusted) over a group of kids used to chaos and disobedience was really an interesting mix. I found myself spending more time policing than I did enjoying the kids, more time governing than just showing them the love and life of Jesus.

I’ve also been feeling much more “white” after camp than I did before. I felt the difference between me and the kids, the struggles I had with relating to them sometimes, and I am just feeling much more aware of my race than before. And I find my self drifting back into fear and shame again – fear of being rejected or hurt because of my skin color, shame over how much that I have. Last night we did a Bible study on God’s renaming of Jacob, and I am in need again of God’s reminder to me of my new name. He has called me Chosen, not Shame, not Fearful. If I am Chosen, then I can walk my streets as one sent, confident in my Father’s hand on my life. If I am Chosen, I can walk without fear – God has Chosen me, picked me, and He will be with me to accomplish His purposes.


Ashleigh said...

I relate muchisimo, Marsh. It helps give me hope to realize that maybe a lot of what I feel is actually not so abnormal/unheard of after all.

brandon said...

Marshall, these are some really challenging thoughts here. I encourage you to not get caught up in the problems that your differences bring, and look to see how the Lord wants to both free you from some of your cultures norms and wants to use some of those norms to bless those kids.

I often after several days in new sorroundings, especially in ones such as these, find myself beginning to take on new ways of talking and acting. Not completely changing who I am, but changing the ways i do things. Some of this is good and is a part of being sensitive to the culture that I'm now in, but some of it is not so good and is me letting go of parts of who I am to make myself or other people more comfortable. but that is not being true to the people I'm with or myself, or who the Lord created me to be. these are just some thoughts that I've had and struggled with through my time in urban ministry.

Good luck with the rest of camp and with the interns, may God continue to bless your time together.

Marshall said...

Thanks, Brandon. I an glad you are reading and look forward to learning from you and with you. come and see me in Gso - you can do that as a cross-pol.