Monday, August 8, 2011

Righting a Right



I search my mental Indonesian dictionary, trying to come up with the word for squeal. As in, “My brakes are squealing.”

I come up empty, so I resort to making the sound that makes me look like an idiot.

But it doesn’t seem to matter. The mechanic sits in my car and tells me there is nothing wrong, even as he must feel what I feel—that you push the brake pedal and the brakes don’t work, don’t work, don’t work, then suddenly kick in, jerking the car and its occupants.

He’s made a house call, which I love about our mechanic. And he has fixed other things that are really tiny for no charge.

For instance, last week—on Brad’s vacation day off, on the way to the pool, we got a flat tire. Then we discovered that the spare tire in the trunk of this used car that we bought a few months ago doesn’t actually fit the car. Our mechanic fixed the flat tire for free, though it took awhile and we never made it to the pool.

But today it’s only 1 p.m. and I’ve been awake for 10 hours—woken up at 3 a.m. by the “band” of kids that pounds drums down the street every morning to wake up the people who are fasting for Ramadan (and therefore need to cook and eat before the sun rises). Then the mosques broadcast their early morning call to prayer—still before the sun rose. And I eventually gave up and started my day.

So, I am less flexible and more adamant and more convinced of my rights. Like my right to a car that works. Or my right to sleep. Or my right to a shower without listening to kids crying.

My mechanic finally tells me that the brakes are fine—“The car stops, doesn’t it?”

I give up on the “car that works” right when I hear my supposed-to-be-napping son screaming, knowing that he probably thinks the start-up of the car’s engine is me leaving. My mouth thanks the mechanic for his trouble, but my heart grumbles my ingratitude.

The list of complaints has grown over the weekend as this place that I sometimes love doesn’t seem to even like me back. Some days anyway.

But then I remember... during this same week, a neighbor captured a huge monitor lizard in my yard. A Muslim friend who is fasting for Ramadan (and suffers daily headaches) insisted I eat her delicious cookies in front of her. Another friend who is trying to make some extra money selling drinks to people breaking the fast, gave a free drink to my son, while sitting and reading his book with him. She hadn’t eaten or drunk all day on a very hot day, but spent her reserves on my little boy.

Some days, I simply can’t out-love the people I am here to serve. But I try and I think I make a difference and I feel good and sigh with contentment.

Other days, I am frustrated and my love just won’t work, won’t work, won’t work, until I finally give into a required polite love and the recipient just gets whiplash. And that squealing sound? Sounds more like whining—the kind others may not hear, but that rings in my soul.

My mechanic leaves and I go to comfort my boy. I tell him I hadn’t left—I’ve been here all along. His screaming hurts my ear, and I am tired but I turn his cries into snuggles and he quiets and hugs me back. This Mommy-love is close to the God-love, and I am reminded of its power.

Then I sit here and write so that I remember to use this true God-love when this place doesn’t like me so that I can show them One who adores them. And even if I failed today, I can rest assured that tomorrow will bring more chances to surrender my rights to love rightly.

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