It’s not a word that is necessarily pleasing to the ears…or to the heart, for that matter. Somehow the word encapsulates everything from crusades to spousal disagreements to being mugged to struggling with cancer.
It paints a loud picture in my mind. boisterous and demanding. Screaming. Yelling. Grabbing with your fingers so much that you get whatever you’re fighting all over yourself. Saying alive. So loud. So noisy. Anxious. Like you’re hanging on the thread of survival.
I have seen this kind of fighting. A lot. I have seen tears and screaming. Hollering and damning. Sobbing and not knowing- but not giving up. This kind of fighting, no matter the victor, leaves you hollow. Empty. Worn out. Like a breeze could come and fill your body. At the end of that kind of fighting, all I can seem to do is find some strength to cry.
Fighting has come to me in a different sense these days. Meeting women, fighting to be heard in the oppression of their culture. Men trying to prove that they can be different than who the men before them say they are. People fighting to eat. Others fighting to keep the peace. This is the way people fight in Haiti.
And, this is what God has been teaching me lately: Fighting is sometimes quiet. Sometimes, fighting means finding your strength in the things unseen and holding on to Him for dear life. Sometimes fighting means seeing things in a way other than the physical and holding on to that vision- fighting for others to see it with you. Fighting sometimes means something more than defending my personal pride and ambitions- it means standing for something outside of myself. And, I have learned so much of this from the people we work with in Hispaniola.
I sat across from a man I have known for years, desperate for help, yet reluctant to trust me. “White people…” he starts, “have come in and out for years…”. I started fighting then. I struggled to be heard, through shifty Creole and my other Creole speaking friend. I was holding on to everything and anything to prove I wasn’t just another person out to take advantage. My pride held on tight. I was going to win. Prove him wrong. But then I looked at him. His eyes were pained. His fingers laced tightly together. Then I realized another fight was beckoning for me. Fighting, in that moment, meant calming down. Not being offended. Fighting, then, meant looking the man in the eyes and listening.
These days, fighting looks a lot like loving.
Fighting, maybe then is nothing more than active love. It’s suddenly putting “yet” at the end of the sentences without even meaning to. It just comes because we know its worth fighting for. The way that we fight for that one friend who has lost her way “she’s not there yet” The way we see our spouse with loving eyes “he hasn’t done that yet” The way we look at our lives and say “i’m not finished yet”
This love, this fight, is so engrained in us. Perhaps, because we were born to do so. We were made to scrap and slide and love our way through life. Through these messy, bumpy roads and relationships, we hold on to them. We fight. We love. And we sure screw up. We let our prideful fights come before our loving fights. We convince ourselves that things and people and causes aren’t worth fighting for- aren’t worth hoping in.
But there is hope. He first fought for us and first loved us. Every Single Day of Every Single Hour. He never stops fighting for us. He never stops fighting for us to see the way we and the world around us could be. So, really…when we reach the end of ourselves the fight (and the love) has only just begun. May we continue to fall, scrape our knees and get back up. May we stand before the Father with scars all over- scars from loving, trying and fighting.