India invites me to be free. But sometimes I feel smothered by the people I’m staying with. They are so attentive, so protective.
At the school they wait on my every perceived need, even the ones I don’t have. They follow me around asking if I’ve eaten, serving me tea, making special food, sitting me in the manager’s office. They will not let me stand, will not let me sit on the ground so that I’m forced to steal the teachers’ chairs. I’d really rather sit on the floor with the children like I do in the slums—but I can’t.
I’m also not supposed to leave where I stay when I am alone. So every outing must be planned. The streets beckon, but I stay inside. The mornings I go to the school, an auto takes me to the bus stop. The driver will not leave me, but waits until the bus comes which the teachers are on. I finally convince them to let me take another bus to meet up with the teachers instead. It’s not far. I have a cell phone. I’ll be fine. But then they won’t let me walk the half-mile to the bus stop alone. So I’m back to the auto and they are back to being inconvenienced.
I believe a fragment of my frustrations is justified. I came to serve. In my mind that means sitting in the dirt rather than taking the seat of honor. It doesn’t mean being waited on. But yesterday I heard God nudging at my heart. Pride, he said.
This monster hides itself so subtly within my heart. I should never be shocked to find him lurking in another buried niche, but somehow I always am. “What, you?” I say. “You can’t be here. I got rid of you before.” He only laughs. Until I let God dig him out yelling and screaming the entire way.
This time my pride values independence. I like not having to rely on others. I want to go alone. I don’t want all the attention. I don’t want to cause inconvenience. It might look like humility. But it’s pride wearing a mask. The only way to kill it is to submit to the authority and desires of my Indian hosts. So I stifle a scream with an upturned gaze. God teach me to die yet another way.