,Twice in my life I've been able to visit countries where English was not the first language. In most of the visited cities, it wasn't even the second. I'm not sure if you've had such an opportunity, but it's exciting and scary at the same time. Will I get lost? Will I wind up in a not so friendly location? Will I be able to read signs, order from a menu, find a public restroom? Unsettling, at least for me. Before going on these trips I tried to learn some basic speech phrases, all for naught. Apparently neither French or Spanish are my second language, as I thought I ordered spaghetti and got brains. Yuck.
This week has been a weird one. It started with a full moon, and every night I dreamt about a person or pet who has died. One, just one, every single night. The headlines in the news and the comments on social media have put everyone's emotions high and opinions bold, including mine. This morning I woke in my warm house, used my bathroom, made my way to let the dog out, gave the pets their breakfast, poured my coffee and added my cream, all in a completely silent house. Settled back on my bed and got my reading materials together, covered with my comforter, and was ready for my morning God time.
Can you picture it? The ability and means to start my day, pretty much every day, this way? But today, instead of starting with my online Bible study, I went to Facebook, only to see a friend’s post and a photo detailing her night. She lives on the Mexico/US border and she was on a plane as part of her job. A plane full of refugees from around the globe. She expressed how there was confusion as many didn't even know where to sit, but eventually a couple and their baby sat next to her. They asked her if she knew Spanish, as they were from Chile, and God in his infinite wisdom, made sure they sat next to someone who did. Questions were answered about connecting flights, and my friend was able to find out that the only possession they had was the food in a bag they were given.
Let's stop here for a moment. Walk in their shoes. Use your imagination and see. You're a parent with a baby in a foreign land, not knowing the language, or even if where you are going is safe. But, you're willing to go there because you heard it's safer than from where you came. It's a gamble. A giant crap shoot. You traveled thousands of miles, probably many of those on foot, into the complete unknown. All because of this thing called hope.
Now granted, evil exists and will use every opportunity to invade our minds, our hearts, and even our country. That's just the reality of living in a sin-filled world. But what we need to do is dig past what the world is screaming, which is mainly fear and anger, and see humanity. You know, the beings who were created in the image of God.
Growing up I had a violent, fear-filled childhood. I didn't choose that. I'd never choose that, even for my enemy. Pretty much every day I lived in fear. I was envious of friends who had a peaceful and "normal" home. I'd spend as much time as I could with them, just for moments of laughter and rest. I guess in a way you could say I was a refugee. Leaving a place I was plopped down into, a place of instability and loose footing at best, seeking a place to just live a bit better. And as a parent, isn't that all we want for our children? A bit better?
I've got to be honest, my friend expressed that her emotions were all over the place with this encounter, and regarding this crisis, mine are too. But probably unlike her, mine tend to go from "please come live with me" to "there is a right way and a wrong way and the wrong way, the illegal way, tells me something about your character and I don't like you." There. I said it. My dark side creeps in and rather than consult God on how I should respond, my flesh jumps on the mob mentality bandwagon. But the good news for me is, I at least recognize my dark side.
I will be processing my friend's story for a while. Especially when the news conference says "all the Haitians have been sent away and there are no more refugees under the bridge. 15,000 are no longer here. Zero." Instead of feeling emboldened or positive about this, I need to question my heart. I need to walk in their shoes, the best I can. I need to ask, "what would Jesus do?" I need to lose my life to find it. I need to not listen to Satan's whispers that my hard earned money will now be supporting these "illegals" instead of my family. I need to tune out when he says I will be assaulted or even killed as many entering are evil. I need to touch my soft comforter, sip my flavorful coffee, pet my cat, fluff my pillow, feel my furnace, and wonder why I'm so blessed, when others sleep in airports with their baby and only one bag of food, not being able to communicate. Can you even imagine their level of fear and confusion?
No wonder our emotions are all over the place. We are judging people we've never even met, based on half-known truths we're being fed. Perhaps it's time to change to a healthier diet. One where I decide what's healthy. One where God leads me, not man. It is overwhelming to me, I can't imagine what it's like for them. This should make me weep, not hate. I actually do both, sometimes in the same sentence. All this tells me I am both spirit and flesh, and the war for my soul is really what's on the line. The battle rages, but I get to decide who wins. The decision is mine alone.
It took a friend on a plane to get me to step back and realize there's always more to a story. So as you enjoy the comforts of your day today, from toothpaste to socks, from coffee to dessert, from laundry to a house to clean, pause. Pause and be that mom holding her baby on a plane traveling into the complete unknown, and say a prayer for her. And give thanks that you aren't her. Only because of Jesus' grace and mercy on your life.
In a few days Christ followers will celebrate Easter. A festival devoted to a dead man who came back to life. And while our hearts and minds are devout in this, we are in a global pandemic of fear.
Lately I've been covered under a blanket so thick I feel I can't breathe. Is there anything I'm good at? Do I have any level of worth? It's a feeling that goes deep and the thoughts that accompany it are pretty dark. Needless to say, tears flow. The ironic thing is, I have developed a women's retreat based on how we and society sees us, versus how God sees us.
The real problem, at least for me, is that my self expectations are unrealistic. My bar is so high I'm not even sure Jesus could hit it. Self-sabotage some would say. In my head, since the bar is so high, why even bother. Right?
So I need to reset. Reset the bar, reset my thoughts, reset my ideals, and reset my goals. Not eliminate them. I need to find patience with myself, accept that failure is part of the process, not succeeding the first time doesn't reflect my aptitude, just my inexperience.
If you have a child competing in track, as an example, and they lose their heat, do you tell them to just quit? Usually not. You encourage them to try again. And that's exactly what God tells us to do. He's rooting for us!! He already has equipped us! He KNOWS we can... we just need to decide if he's worth crossing the finish line for.
Praying for all of us who feel like failures. Remember, feelings are deceptive. You've been given another day. That, in and of itself, tells us God believes in us.
Ugh... resetting yet again.
There is a popular song out now that actually has the words, "I'm thankful for the scars." Thankful?? Scars are an indication that something was broken, whether flesh or heart or emotions. The breaking of something always leaves behind something else. How can I be thankful for brokenness?
I guess, in retrospect, I can have empathy with those who've lived through physical and mental abuse. I can show people how to survive, and hopefully, thrive. I can hold the hurting and relate on such a deep level that those who have never experienced it cannot comprehend. There's so many contrite sayings about being broken, the story of the practice of putting together a broken vase with gold, or the story of where there are holes the light gets in. Both are legit, but my issue is God allows brokenness. Sin, the way we treat others, brings to light brokenness.
I truly feel there are families in my life who have never experienced pain. I'm told that we never know what goes on behind closed doors. I'm confident that I do, in many instances. But here's the thing. I may not see their brokenness, their pain, their issues, but Christ showed me that no one... no one, leaves here without scars. He had physical scars from beatings too great to comprehend, scars from betrayal of a close friend, scars from others fleeing in denial of him, and scars of his father forsaking him. Physical, mental, emotional scars. He lived them all, only to overcome them and rise. He rose not on his own ability though. It was God who raised him. How much clearer an example can we get? If we want to rise beyond our scars, we CANNOT do it on our own. "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who gives me strength."
I can and will continue to rise above my scars, with God's help, but I am thankful for my scars for they remind me sin covers this place, and when I look back, I can see how far I've come.
I learned something new yesterday. I learned that what I see through my camera lens is not the whole truth. When I was able to slow my shutter speed to 1/4 of a second, meaning the shutter stays open longer to pull in all the elements. If my shutter speed is faster, it stops the motion, so it freezes any action into a brief pause.