The roads our bulking Sole Hope vans clamored down were paved with far more footprints than tire tracks. And the expressions that danced across the faces of the residents confirmed just that—we were not common guests.
And we were certainly not visiting for a common cause.
It’s interesting what an embarrassing stigma jiggers carry in Uganda. They are a common struggle plaguing hundreds of thousands. Yet they are invisible to the untrained eye—easy to hide from the world on the soles of ruddy feet. If Ugandans are able to restrain their aching winces and constant discomfort, they can certainly keep their painful plague a secret. The shame and embarrassment are enough motivation to hold them back from seeking help.
Apparently it’s easier to live in pain than in vulnerability.
But isn’t that true for us all?
It’s interesting what an embarrassing stigma sin carries in America. They are common struggles plaguing EVERYONE. Yet many are invisible to the untrained eye—easy to hide from the world in the depths of ruddy hearts. If Americans are able to restrain their aching winces and constant discomfort, they can certainly keep their painful plague a secret. The shame and embarrassment are enough motivation to hold them back from seeking help.
Apparently it’s easier to live in sin than in vulnerability.
I couldn’t help but see my sin in the children’s shame.
But as we began to set up our clinic stations, you could feel the energy shift from shame to curiosity amongst the bald heads and beading eyes. And as the children were brought, one-by-one, to have their feet washed, their walls began to slowly crumble. As smiles were freely given from the foot washers, smiles flickered across the faces of the plagued.
There was no judgment in the schoolyard. Only compassion.
Therefore shame dissolved in the schoolyard. And trust bloomed.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the relief I always come to know when I bring my sin to Jesus. No matter if my case is small or my sins are many, there is no judgment at the foot of the cross. Only compassion. Therefore the shame dissolves at His name. And trust blooms.
Then came the pain that always accompanies the removal of these nasty sand fleas. I spent the afternoon with razor blades, safety pins and soothing ointment, digging out the egg sacks these vicious parasites yield. Some tiny, some massive. Some near the surface and some so deeply rooted they took a team of removers to extract.
Tears were shed at times and whimpers echoed under the tent at others. But these sweet children were as resilient and brave as they come. Knowing that removal was a necessary part of the process. That sitting across from the remover was essential. And made far easier when the remover came in grace, love and service. That the pain was temporary. The relief, overwhelming. And worth every moment of this precious, free opportunity.
How I wish I could always cling to that truthful reminder. How I long for the resilience and bravery of these children. To know that the confession and removal of my sins are a regular and necessary part of the process. That sitting across from the Remover is essential. God always comes in grace, love and service. The discomfort is temporary. The relief, overwhelming. Worth every tear in the confession of our brokenness to the King of Restoration.
And our sweet King does not send us off empty-handed after coming to Him humbly through our shame and guilt. No, He strengthens us. He protects us. He equips us with what is necessary to move forward in our healing. Becoming free individuals bound for productive, liberated lives.
Watching the children run and dance across their schoolyard in strong, new shoes provided through Sole Hope was the final chapter in a day of restoration and healing. His sweet children now equipped with strength, protection, and hope.
Hope in the fact that their condition was not definitive of their acceptance. Hope in the fact that resolution reigns. Hope that tomorrow may just be better than the day before, after having held strong through the necessary removal of shame.
Hope. Hope reigns. Even in the midst of pain…hope reigns.
God knows exactly what He is looking for. And exactly where to look. He is seeking out your inequities not to judge you, punish you or condemn you, but to heal you. Just because your sin is easily hidden, does not mean you must move through life masking the pain and allowing shame to control your days. The longer you allow your sin to fester, the larger and deeper it will grow.
We must sit across from Him, toughen up, and allow Him to point out and remove the inequities in us. At times it will be painful—to be made aware of our deep-rooted sin. To have it dug out of us. To be left with sore places. But we can trust that, in following His guidance and trusting His provision, we WILL heal. That humility will always result in healing.
We must allow the King of all Kings to wash our feet, remove our sin, and equip us with strength, protection, and hope.
Healing is waiting on you. And hope reigns.
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