Yesterday I had a really great day.
That might not sound like a really big deal. You probably think I have a lot of great days. And I do. I tend to write about those. The highlights. The encouraging and the profound and the exciting and the cool.
But you may also have noticed I’ve been rather quiet this last several weeks on the blog. I haven’t had a lot of great days. It’s been really difficult season, actually. So the fact that yesterday was a really good day is worthy of celebration.
It has been a season of knowing.
I find myself quite often lately wondering what my future holds, how long I will do this thing, where we will sail to next and how do I fit in the grand scheme of things.
I start to get anxious when I think too far ahead. I am coming up on my eighth thanksgiving in Africa and I never fathomed my little adventure would turn into what it has. People ask how long will do you do this or where do you see yourself in five years and I just shrug my shoulders and say honoring God with my life and helping people, somewhere in the world. If I try to define the structure any more than that, my heart starts to beat a little too quickly and the doubt starts to creep in and the darkness whispers who do you think you are and I start the downward spiral.
So instead of wondering how I fit in or where I belong in the coming months and years; I stop wondering and start knowing – knowing exactly what honoring God with my life and helping people looks like tomorrow. It looks like shining light in dark places. It looks like giving the person who is in need in front of me my full attention. It looks like speaking truth and life, be them words of greeting or encouragement or correction or blessing. It looks like embracing my gifts and abilities as well as my faults and failures, fully aware that both are required to be a member of the human race.
I don’t need to wonder and worry over the future. I know what tomorrow looks like. That’s enough.
It has been a season of climbing.
It might surprise you unless you have known me awhile, but I have always really struggled with feeling like a failure. I know it is ridiculous and irrational and all evidence is to the contrary. But it still plagues me.
God, I am sick of seeing everything through the lens of failure. Please help.
I feel like I have prayed that prayer a million times and yet keep tripping up. So then I think maybe it is unbeatable, maybe I won’t or can’t or shouldn’t, and if I let my thoughts drop even lower and deeper I wonder if God is maybe holding out on me, like a mean father holding something precious just out of reach, laughing as I jump and reach and flail and fall trying to get to it. But I know that the heart of my Father is one that is good; and maybe it just takes a million and one or a million and a hundred or a million billion prayers before the breakthrough comes, but I know it will come. And it is worth pressing through and pursuing.
After all, to see the view from the top of the mountain you actually have to climb it; which is easier for the smaller mountains but the higher ones will take grit, determination, drive, a few bruises and a bloody knee; some stretches where I am gasping to even take in enough oxygen to keep my heart beating, let alone keep climbing. I think about stopping and I dream about stopping but something within me keeps me pushing harder; maybe it’s the promise of a good view, or a nap in a hammock, or pancakes and syrup, which are pretty good things. Maybe it’s freedom. That’s definitely worth pursuing. I know what it is like on the smaller mountains and that knowledge is what keeps me pressing forward towards the summit. People tell me mountain climbing is like a drug; once you see the top once you can’t wait for the next time. I think that is true in the figurative too. I know that I will make it to the top of this mountain. And I will celebrate and enjoy the view, but know that I will not be satisfied and will start looking towards the next peak to conquer.
It has been a season of learning from kids.
I realized I have the tendency to make things so much more complicated than they need to be. A friend is a bit short in response to something and I immediately wonder if they are upset or did I blow it or that thing I said two weeks ago that they said didn’t offend them really did or maybe I did something wrong earlier and upset them or if only I could do something to make it better all would be okay but I can’t and wow what a failure I am as a friend. Sigh.
There are two little girls on the ship that keep coming to mind – A and E, both kindergartners. If I went up to E and asked her why do you spend time with A she would say because she’s my friend. Simple as that.
She’s not wondering and thinking and assuming and spiraling. If they disagree, they get upset for like thirty seconds… and then they move on. Guarantee they aren’t thinking about it even fifteen minutes later, let alone weeks like I tend to do. The recurrent wow you really blew it isn’t plaguing their thoughts as it does mine.
We’re all really just kids, trying to do the best we can here on earth. I’m trying to simplify my thought patterns and use E and A as my teachers. Say what we mean. See the best. Assume others say what they mean. If they don’t, that’s their problem, not mine. Believe the compliments. Receive the problems with grace, sort things out quickly, don’t hold grudges and for goodness sake don’t waste time with mental gymnastics that are based far from reality.
It has been a lonely season.
Work has been extremely busy. And when you live where you work and your friends are also your coworkers, there is really no way to stop. Still, I love what I get to be a part of. When I am not working I am doing school work. I love it, too, for the most part. I love learning and I love being able to apply it to my work. Academic writing is getting easier and I am doing well. All good.
Many people ask or wonder out loud how on earth I can handle a very demanding job and being a student at the same time. Honestly? It’s a lonely existence. It’s the social that gets cut, and I knew that when I decided to pursue graduate school. Because the only other thing left to cut is sleep, and if you know me at all you know that would be a disaster from day one. So most evenings you find me either at my desk in my office or at my desk in my bedroom. This isn’t a season where I meet and pursue relationships with new people. And that makes me a little sad. And is rather isolating.
I know that I know it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the right thing to cut. But that doesn’t make the lonely any less painful.
It has been a season of beauty.
What we get to be a part of, throughout the difficulties and pains and tears, is incredible. I get to be a part of hope and healing and shining light into dark places. Last week I was walking down the long hospital hallway, my mind on the to-do list and not on where I was. A girl in pigtails with a toothy grin and her legs thigh-high in casts hobbled up and grabbed my hand. We looked at each other, my conscious snapped to attention, and held hands and walked together all down the hallway, neither saying a word and both grinning like there was no tomorrow. She got to where she was going and let go of my hand and waved as she turned into her ward and I kept walking towards my office. It was a beautiful moment that just reminded me why we do this thing.
The projects I help with are incredible. Read this about the checklist project, a blog I wrote a few days ago for Mercy Ships – https://mymercy.mercyships.org/blogs/45/85
Last weekend I went away and while I still did school work away I spent a significant amount of time connecting with friends and reveling in the beauty that is the Madagascar rain forest. I forget how much I need beauty until I haven’t had it for awhile. I’ve also started making it a habit to watch the sunset at least once a week. Such beauty deserves an audience.
Thank you for your support and love through all life's seasons. xxk