Friday, April 1, 2011

bee bahk jeut

"if you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. you are not that important." ~ galatians 6:2

some things are not pleasant. some things are difficult. some things are awkward to talk about. some things are uncomfortable. some things are ugly. some things are twisted. some things are disgusting. some things make us feel sick to our stomach. some things give us "bee bahk jeut."

i find that i often go through cycles of frustration. sometimes i just ignore feeling like i am alone (or in a very small minority) of people who genuinely care about trying to make the world a more beautiful place by living love. other times i want to (but rarely do) scream with frustration because i can't understand why anyone with the power and ability to help and love another person would choose not to do so. and, occasionally, i make an attempt at pulling out my soapbox to encourage others to "learn to do good. seek justice. help the oppressed. defend the cause of orphans. fight for the rights of widows" (isaiah 1:17).

i have learned that expressing strong emotions is not something that cambodians tend to do. i recently had a discussion with a friend about how she has had some cambodian friends of her disclose that it is better for them to not ask someone who is crying or clearly upset about what may be wrong or why he/she is feeling sad. it is better not to ask because they might share about a sad or difficult experience, giving the listener "bee bahk jeut."

learning this gave me new insight, but i was also discouraged. what is so ugly within us that we would rather watch someone suffer alone and in silence than to possibly expose ourselves to feeling sadness, to having "bee bahk jeut"? i had thought to myself that surely this is just a difference between cultures, something that must be worked through. but, as i thought about it more and read frustrated emails from people who were really excited to make a difference in the world but were now ready to throw in the towel because of the discouraging responses they had received from people, i realized that not wanting to expose ourselves to "bee bahk jeut" has nothing to do with any culture. maybe we call it something different in america but the principle is the same. in khmer, they call it "bee bahk jeut" which basically translates to "sad/difficult heart." it speaks of those things that make our hearts ache, that cause us to feel pain.

nobody likes to feel sad. nobody likes to have a broken heart. nobody likes to be in pain.

but, i honestly believe that if we share life (and all the loveliness and ugliness in it), we would find more joy than sorrow, more healing than pain, more beauty than ashes, more strength than weakness, more justice, more righteousness, more kindness, more goodness, more gentleness, more peace, and more love...


  1. i like to scream sometimes, too - helps alleviate the gross overload of bee bahk jeut

  2. beautifully written. challenging, too.