I've been trying to figure out a feeling I had while we were driving around Mississippi last week. I felt a bit like a voyeur, poking around in other people's tragedy.
I think a disaster strips people of their privacy. Their stuff is scattered to the winds. The flaws in their character, the cracks in their facade are exposed -- much like the frailty of human structures was exposed.
I've been wondering a lot about motivations. Are we tourists of tragedy? Are we trampling people's dignity when we drop in on their lives this way?
I think I should add that no one we met in Mississippi seemed unhappy with our presence. No one said, "Go away, we don't want you here." Many invited us to see what the hurricane had done to their homes. They wanted to tell their stories, they expressed their appreciation. We were blessed as much as we were a blessing.
So it's not that I think we shouldn't go and try to help when there's a disaster. I believe it's important and it's Christian. But I think we should be aware of our motives and be mindful of people's dignity. I worry that it's so easy to feed our egos with mission trips and relief trips. I recently heard a song one of the worship leaders at our church wrote a few years ago. One of the lines goes "pour me out so You can fill me up." I think that's the attitude we should have -- I must decrease so that my Lord may increase.