One thing I love about the Karen people of Burma is their honesty. Recently, one of them, while walking a long distance to church, found a wallet. He brought it to me, filled with money. He hadn’t even opened it- it wasn’t his. I’ve learned not to slip them money secretly, because on finding it, they turn it in at the church information counter. Their honesty extends to their humor. If I look funny or fat, they don’t laugh behind my back, they laugh in my face. I’ve seen them laugh at another Karen who trips and falls. This may seem rude to us Americans, but don’t we have slapstick comedy? Well, the Karen love live comedy. They call things as they see them. Unfortunately, this can mean trouble. I’ve had to explain Americans don’t like comments, ANY comments, about their hefty weight , so never tell your supervisor she’s fat when you see a bulge above her waist, oh- and never, EVER pinch or poke it! We prefer the Emperor’s New Clothes approach: “You’re not fat, and you have a beautiful complexion”. The Karen have challenged my idea of honesty. “I don’t lie,” I say as I suck in my stomach before the mirror to hide the truth, and – well, I might say a little something to make you think I didn’t notice you drank one glass too many. I wonder sometimes if my avoidance of truth is what the Lord was addressing in Psalm 52:3, “You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.” I’m not saying we need to point out people’s flaws or focus obsessively on our own, but I wonder if valuing comfort and our Christian egos (an oxymoron, if there ever was one) above truth, has gotten us, inch by inch, where we are today: “Let’s celebrate each other’s sinful ways- or at least brush it off.” What would it take to change? Well, courage to speak and courage to hear. I think I need to start with courage to hear; so Lord, speak truth to me-and use others to do so, and help me return the favor by ENcouraging reality and speaking the truth in love- and not speaking the truth until motivated by love. So, yeah- infuse me with Your love that trumps a false sense of comfort.
Published by Laura Cowan email@example.com
Laura Cowan is a PMS survivor, along with her husband John, and their eight children. She adores her pastor who has counseled her through 44 years of marriage to himself. Together they enjoy quiet walks on the beach...Ha! Who are we kidding? We live on the backside of the desert. Thankfully, a very lovable flock of sheep live there, too, and let us pastor them (Calvary Chapel Bishop, California). Also, we spend a lot of time eating tiny bags of peanuts and missing connecting flights as missionaries with Poimen Ministries, whose goal is to encourage, aid, and support pastors, churches, and missionaries throughout non-larva eating parts of the world, mostly. Laura's most impressive identity rests in being a full-time beggar for grace. Not that Jesus makes her beg, it's just she’s such a piece of work. She’s managed to turn all this into fodder for conference themes and teaching in a variety of venues. Laura has published blurbs for the Chicago Sun, Sacramento Bee, and a few obscure magazines. Laura is a friend of the Karen tribe of Thai/Burma relocated to Utah, and has taught cross-cultural seminars, job training, tutoring and ESL. She is a former representative of Voice of the Martyrs and hopes you will join her in prayer and support of the Persecuted Church. View all posts by Laura Cowan firstname.lastname@example.org