#24 Life in Afghanistan :: Hope for ChangePosted: October 24, 2013
I can’t believe we only have a week left of 31 Days! I never thought I’d get this far – it’s been challenging, and fun, and encouraging; thanks for journeying with me! I’m partly looking forward to the writing-every-day being over, I’m partly sad that this journey is coming to an end. I’m feeling nervous and scared about what to write about next. What a journey this has been.
Don’t forget to keep commenting and emailing your questions in. October 30th will be a Q&A of YOUR questions around the topic of life in Afghanistan.
He stood at my gate, I didn’t know why, but I was sure it was to run me out of town.
I remember the evening it all changed. He asked me questions, never talking to me directly but through one of his daughters. He accused me time after time of lying, he spoke harsh words to me, he made me feel most unwelcome. In a culture where guests are highly honored and hospitality greater than anywhere I have visited, I was shocked to my core. I stayed calm and politely answered him and gave him honest open information so that he would have no reason to hold a grudge against me. He told me that I had stayed long enough and it was time for me to leave – I swallowed back the tears as I nodded and got up to go. He walked ahead of me to the gate and as I left he said “Don’t come back here, you are not welcome in my home.” I hurried back to my house and lay on my bed weeping that night. Asking God why he would break such a connection.My story with his family didn’t end when he told me that I was not welcome in his house.
His daughters would remind me that I was not welcome in their home, but that did not mean they were not free to visit mine. They visited me regularly, their mother came too some days. One of the sisters got engaged, the wild, hot-tempered, strong-willed one. An Afghan husband wants a submissive wife, a wife content to produce babies and clean the home. She was not that. I worried about her from that day. Her mother came to me and begged me to talk to her. Her fiancee and her would have such heated arguments she told me, the daughter would not step down, but she must learn to be a good wife, she must learn not to fight all the time – or he would beat her, he would kill her.
So I began my mission. I would talk at length with the sister about what was important to her and what was not. What are the battles worth fighting and what are the ones to let go. When is it important to have the last word. We discussed other peoples happiness, we discussed submission, we discussed service, we discussed gratitude, we discussed peace – both between people and within ourselves. We talked over visits, we sent SMSs, we spoke on the phone, I shed many tears, she shouted a lot. I got down on my knees and begged God to change something within her. Slowly I began to notice and change in her, though I never spoke of it to her, I simply watched as her hard edges chipped off and she began to soften a little.
He’s still in the gateway and he asks if he can step into my yard. I’m drawn back to the present moment. I nod my head and step back allowing him space to enter. My guard stays close by, just far enough to give us privacy, but close enough to step in if anything untoward were to happen. I swallow hard, surely he has found out about his daughters visits, surely he has come with more harsh words, come to let me know in no uncertain terms that I am not welcome.
I welcome him, I greet him like a friend, because to me that is what he is. He is the father of the girls who have become like sisters to me. His voice cracks a little as he greets me back. He lowers his head and puts his hand on his heart, I’m taken aback this is not the gesture of someone who is about to drive me out of town, “Forgive me” he says. I stand there silent looking at him, unsure what is happening. “Forgive me. I am sorry. You have changed my daughter, she does not fight like she used to, she helps around the house, she listens to her fiancee, sometimes she even lets him have his way, maybe it is possible that their marriage will be good; you have changed my daughter. Thank you; you are a friend of my household.”
It’s my turn to speak with a cracked voice “No, God has changed her. Be at peace, there are no bad feelings between us, I have great love for your household.”
Finally he raises his head and looks at me, I’m stunned once more, this man is looking at me directly in the eyes and I feel exposed, slightly violated even – I am not used to this. “You are welcome in my home any time. You are our family now.”
He turns to leave, my guard rushes past me to open the gate. As he closes it he looks at me wide-eyed, it’s possible he has never heard an Afghan man apologize to a younger women before either. I simply smile at him and toss the words “God is kind” over my shoulder as I walk back into my house.
I’m filled with hope when I look at this family. Hope that God can change even the hardest hearts. Hope that Afghans are willing to learn and experience peace. Hope there can be restoration and reconciliation for this land. Hope that there can be apologies and forgiveness. Hope that there is a brighter future on the horizon for Afghanistan.
This is part of the 31 Day series.
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