In preparation for an upcoming interview about my book, Chasing My Father, I have a list of questions that I’ve been asked, and I’ll be sharing my responses here on my blog.
Question #3. You write in Chapter 8 that you find forgiveness and love on your first trip to South Africa in 2007. But in Chapter 19, you tell a different story, where a young South African boy isn’t embraced and instead is treated as an outcast on your 2010 trip. How do you reconcile that the two experiences were so different?
I believe that God brings people into our lives, and allows us to experience certain events exactly when we need them. In 2007, I was going through breast cancer treatment and my marriage was on rocky ground. I desperately wanted to know what real love is like, and that is what I felt from my traveling companions from Nashville, as well as the people who I met in South Africa. I needed to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and learn about The Truth and Reconciliation Commission after apartheid. I returned to the United States from that trip, knowing that when God is your personal friend, you have unbelievable joy even in the face of immeasurable adversity.
Three years later on my fourth trip to South Africa, I was in a different place emotionally and spiritually. I still needed to feel God’s love, but my faith had matured. I needed to see what it looks like when a person is judged and shunned. It was how I reacted to the story of the boy at the house and his accused sins that was important. The title of the chapter is, “Stand Up For Justice, Freedom and Love” because it was the first time in my life that I was willing to love the outcast, and not care what others thought of me. God is far wiser than I am, and knows how to teach me when I am capable of learning with these real-life examples.
One of my reviewers suggested that I shouldn’t tell both stories. She asked, “Won’t it confuse your readers if South Africa is both where you find forgiveness and love, but also where you find judgment?”
It was a good question. Both the stories are true, and we talked more about how they illustrate what our real lives are like. We aren’t 100% consistent in our actions either. As Christians we are taught to love one another. Sometimes we love a person, and the next day we are angry with them. Or we love our family, but not the homeless man on the street. God only gives us what we can handle. When I needed to learn about forgiveness and love, that was my experience. When I needed to be shown how judgmental I was, that is the story that God showed me with a real-life example. Looking at both stories together taught me that we are never perfect in our faith and love, only God’s love is perfect.
I had a choice to show kindness and love to a boy whom no one wanted. It was God’s voice calling out, and me answering, “I am here, Lord.”
A Note to My Readers: Have you read Chasing My Father? If you have a question, please enter it in the “comments” below. Click on this link for ordering information for the book.
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