I wish I could sit here and write about all the amazing and wonderful things that I’m feeling and experiencing here in Africa but honestly, I’m breaking. My heart is breaking and I have been prolonging this blog praying for all the right answers so that I could sit here and tell you that I have it all together, but in reality I don’t. In reality rather than gaining all the answers for world hunger or how to save girls from prostitution I feel like I’m in over my head every day. Honestly I have no idea what I’m doing and the more I live in this reality the more desperate I am becoming for God’s strength to carry me through each day.
I feel like I was born and grew up in a bubble and now my eyes are finally being opened to the reality of this world and I don’t know if my heart can handle it. Living in America made it easy to close my eyes, to choose not to see, to wear a mask and act as if the broken, starving and struggling people around me weren’t there. But here in the reality of where I am it’s impossible, completely impossible to miss the hurt and pain of the world around you. My heart is crumbling and I’m not sure if I can bear it any longer. To face the starving children playing in the dirt with their toys made out of trash right outside my front door. To face another mamma’s tears begging for food to feed her children at home, or for money to put her kids in school. My eyes are open, my heart has been exposed, and now I’m trying to process the affect it’s taken on me. Like I said, I wish that I could sit here and tell you that I’m the best missionary in the world and that every day is like candy and rainbows but really it’s the opposite. I’m here just trying to figure out how to change one life at a time in the mists of not knowing what to do or having all the answers.
Everything began changing for me one day as I walked hand and hand with a eight year old girl who wants to grow up to become a preacher someday. As we walked she suddenly became very sad and I stopped to look at her. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “I feel something for you” she said as she looked into my eyes. Suddenly I was nervous and anxiously smiled, “What do you feel?” I asked. “Sadness, your heart is sad and I can feel it.” I instantly tried to defend myself almost ashamed that she could see into me so deeply, “What do you mean? We have played hop scotch, danced in the rain, ate rice and beans. How can I be sad?” “You’re different than last time, you’re sad” she said. I was blown away by this point because I knew that she had just heard from Jesus and I was shocked that she had just called me out with a word of knowledge! I laughed inside but I also knew that it was to be taken seriously. Jesus was speaking to me through the mouth of a child and I knew I needed to run to him.
I have never had to process grief and I’ve never lived in a world where trauma is around every corner. How on earth do I survive in this reality? How do I not become depressed and feel defeated every day? How do I keep my heart open rather than building up the walls of protection? How do I continue to love when anger begins to build inside? I began journaling, praying, worshipping, and doing whatever I could to fix this problem growing inside of me. Fear and lies began filling me telling me that if I didn’t learn how to get past this than I wasn’t cut out for this job. If I couldn’t get better soon that the four walls of my house were about to become my jail cell, and if I can’t handle today’s events filled with pain and hurt, how can I live tomorrows, and then the next? These lies messed with me until finally GOD SPOKE one morning as I just sat with him drinking a cup of coffee.
Journal Entry 7/14/13
You are mine and you are not alone. Right now I am holding you so closely that my mouth is almost kissing your heart as I speak to it. I am tenderly nurturing your beautifully broken heart that I am so passionately in love with. I am wiping away anger, wiping away fear, wiping away grief and deep sorrow for my people that you have been trying to carry on your own. I am bandaging the wounds and dressing them in truth. I’m holding you so closely whispering directly to your frail heart. Beloved I am here, my beautiful sweet girl. You heart has been crying for some time now, but I am here rocking you, and speaking my love into you. I’m sorry you are hurting and I’m so sorry because I know that you will hurt again. People will hurt you, experiences and the things you see will hurt deeply but I am so proud of you! Only hearts that are wide open can feel pain, hearts that have allowed people to come in, hearts that aren’t afraid of being damaged. You are hurting because your walls are down and you love wholeheartedly with nothing in return. That is great love, a love that has no conditions attached. My child I am so proud of you, and not only do I want you to love fully but I want you to come to me each day to talk through your hurt and allow me to take the burden from you and tenderly nurture your heart. If you don’t come to me, you continue to carry your wounds and wounds unaddressed can become infection and that infection can spread to the whole heart and make your heart sick. You will know when your heart is sick when hope disappears and fear replaces it. A sick heart builds walls and turns away from people in need for healing. This is not the case for you my love, because I am here and my tears fall like healing rain upon your heart as I weep of the pain your heart has endured and the pain that your eyes have seen. I’m taking your hurt onto myself and your tears are now mine to cry. Freedom and peace are filling your heart and joy is being restored. I love you so much. Please know that my love is NEVER far from you. I am so passionately in love with you and there is no way for you to even try to comprehend how great my love is for you but I will prove my love to you each day and that you never have to doubt.
The One who first loved you,
We, as God’s children, were told to love fully and love well but never to be the gardener of our own hearts. He never put us in charge of our own lives; instead he said to give our lives to him and to be filled daily. God comes in when we call on him and he is so faithful to keep us healthy bearing only good fruit. He tenderly trims off all the dead branches, waters the soil, and gently pulls out the weeds. He is slow to anger and FULL of compassion. He waits for us to call on him so that he can take our burdens again and again each day, carrying them upon himself just as he did that day on the cross when he died to save our lives once and for all! That is who God is, faithful, good all the time and full of abundant love and mercy. We must, MUST make time for God to come in and heal us each and every day.
I will no longer try to carry pain alone, and I will no longer try to carry God’s people as if they were my own. Instead I will give God my burdens and allow him to fill me up afresh with his great love for me each and every day!