You can’t say that!

When I was growing up, we couldn’t say “sucks”. Like the word “stupid”, it was a word my mom taught us would not fly in the Taylor household. So even as an adult, it’s stuck as a “don’t say that!” word.

So, in advance, I’d like to publically apologize to the Taylor family for my language. I know, I “can’t say that!”. But y’all are my people, and I know you’ll understand me here.

I’m angry at poverty today. I’m tired of seeing sick friends, tired mothers, and teenagers with unlimited potential not being tapped into.

I’m tired of water needing to be treated – or there being no water to treat in the first place. I can’t believe that all of my favorite people have no indoor plumbing. In 2016, where I have seen truck stop bathrooms fit for royalty on long road trips, my best friends have latrines, holes to squat over, and the backyard. When I visit America, I look in toilets and think, “I bet this water is drinkable”.

I am so heart-aching exhausted at how much access to food I have while my community STILL sometimes eats once every OTHER day. It is ridiculous that food inequality is so dramatic.

It straight sucks that everyone I know is sick & that I have run into at least one person a day lately who has diarrhea – including my friend that I ran into at the clinic today, who has had it for nine days. She is in her fifties and a mother with about a dozen people in her home….almost everyone has diarrhea (aka a totally preventable disease, if clean water was easily accessible). She is the only one going to the doctor, and it is because they scraped the money with how awfully weak and worse she is. She is tiny, tired, and hunched over trying to rest in the vinyl chair when I go find a seat.

That home she went back to when her appointment was over – the entirety of it – is half the size of one floor of where my family lives in Ohio. No A/C, showers, toilets, sinks, fresh laundry, Netflix, or quick places to grab medicine or soup nearby. The cooking area is in the back of the home and is dark, with charcoal to cook and no guarantee that the dust blowing all over won’t keep the illness going. It is stuffy and dark with no electricity. Less than half the people sleep on a mattress – and no one gets their own. Where is she going to rest when she gets home? Probably a straw type mat in the dirt, outside where there is some air flow under the shade of mango trees.

It is stupid that almost everyone I talk to has a physical ailment this month: colds (with no Walgreens or medicine cabinet for relief), eye problems that can’t be diagnosed, heart and physical pain problems, old injuries that were never treated correctly that now hurt on a constant basis. I’m overwhelmed by the need, and it sucks that everyone has something – and there are no “quick fixes”.

It sucks talking to another mom with another bleeding heart for her child, wanting a different future for her child, who cannot find a job because there aren’t any.

It sucks that there aren’t jobs because, if there was a local business, there would be no customers because they have no money to pay.

It sucks hearing her response when I ask a mom who “feels purposeless” what she does during the day: sleeps, waiting for the next day to come…where she will sleep again. It’s stupid that this mom wants a job so badly, and there IS no “Chik-fil-a down the street” to get a simple job, there IS no “bagging at Kroger”. Not even the most basic income.

The only thing in months that that she has found was someone who wanted a babysitter, housekeeper, laundry woman, and cook – for the pay of $32.65 a month. I spent over half that at the doctor today – the same doctor that any of my friends go to when they are sick. $32.65 a month is comparable to slavery – which is what I said, using the term ‘restavek’. The mom laughed but then sadly nodded in agreeance. Are you serious? That’s stupid.

It sucks that a young man knocked on the gate yesterday looking for help – for anything. He couldn’t be more than 10 years older than me – IF he is even that old. His wife died last month and so did one of his children. His only living family – his small son – has a leg infection that no one understands and there are two problems – no doctors in the area that are equipped to figure out this infection as well as no money. This father can’t even mourn his family, he is so busy trying to hold onto what he has left.

I want to punch vodou and ‘magic’ in the face, promising wealth and power – what no one can seem to find – and bringing people in to throw away the little money they have. Bringing people in to throw the little hope that they have into something that can’t hold them. It sucks how convincing, multi-layered, and convincing the lies concealed as “promises” hold.

On the other side, it’s stupid how some Jesus that I have never heard of has been introduced to those thirsty for living water and rest – and this false Jesus simultaneously offers neither while also fooling people into not being interested in the REAL Jesus.

I can’t believe how stupid complicated the problems of poverty are – intertwined, deep, widespread, both hidden and in plain sight. It sucks that there is no “one size fits all”, magic serum, or fix that can be learned and then applied all over the place.

I can’t stand watching a young woman get grabbed by the arm as she walks down the path of Bercy like it’s appropriate, like she’s an object; and watching her natural reaction be to hit – even playfully. It’s seen in my three-year-old neighbor, who may as well be family, who picks up rocks as soon as he is frustrated. There is a cycle of violence from self-defense that is entrenched and you know what I think already – it sucks.

We talk all over the place about poverty. Defining it, the spiritual poverty that is deeper than material poverty and the relational riches that the materially rich miss out on – and on and on. And these are GOOD conversations. These are real conversations, and we will keep talking about these things. But sometimes, material poverty IS what to talk about. It is real, and it sucks.

God wins, He is already victorious. We are being made new, and redemption is happening all over the place. We already know why life sucks in this moment – because we are in the fraction of eternity where the Fall is evident and the ruler of this age hates us – literally, hates us. I refuse to end here hopeless, with no future in sight, with simply the gravity of the stupidity that is poverty laid out on the page.

But I DO want to, in light of our victory, put the weight on us to feel – not loss, hopelessness, or no comprehension of why – but instead to feel the responsibility of victors, as chosen ones, as a people who hold so much of the world’s riches in our hands (it’s our own mismanagement if we do not “feel” rich or if the bank account says otherwise). I am living with poverty on all sides and it sucks.

We need to feel this weight and take it to Him, offering it up in our weary hands to say, “What will you have me do with it?”

Being comfortable is much, much easier. I know. And that may be part of why I am angry at poverty this week. My own heart shouts, “Can we just go back inside?!” – and I have to deal with the reality that I, in fact, need to get angry at some of my own decisions sometimes. So now, once again, it’s time for me to lift these weary hands up….Father? What will you have me do?

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2 thoughts on “You can’t say that!

  1. Millinium Force

  2. Stephanie, you are an amazing young woman. I am praying for you and your community. I am so proud of you and your work. Thank you for putting real life world reality in my life! Thank you, Janet

    Sent from my iPhone

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