There once was a little girl who grew up too fast . . .
My story could begin like this but instead, God saw fit for my story to be revealed a different way, in living large as a child, to being trapped as a teen, and even in letting go of what was as an adult. God has continued to move me forward and as He has, my pride has been punched in the face more than once along the way.
Last Friday, that looked like a trip to the hospital, following a "could have been horrible" motorbike crash in a remote village in Thailand.
Although medicated for the pain, with my left leg wrapped like a mummy and propped up in lazy man style, I have been given much needed time to think through my life as a whole and especially into what might have left me feeling so helpless as I do this weekend.
It really all began with expectation.
This word, expectation, is a dreaded word in the AIM/World Race culture. You are warned of its' effect early on at Training Camp and then over and over again throughout the months gone by every Racer who might speak truth into your life along the way. Of course, they are speaking more specifically about the Race and the ways in which we enter a country with thoughts about how the month might turn out. It hardly ever ends the way you expected it when beginning on day 1. From food, to hosts, to the reception of the locals, and any other part of daily missionary life, we all have become accustomed to the phrase, "Watch those expectations," or, "Since when has any of this gone as expected?" The words are always met with rolled eyes but receieving hearts. Yes, none of it has for the good and sometimes the bad of it. You really do have to be fluid on this journey.
Well, my life was filled with expectations as a child. I am not writing to cast blame either, just facts. Here are a few of my childhood expectations for my life and myself:
1. Olympic Gymnast
2. Professional Dancer
3. Professional Musician & Singer
4. Grow up with perfect family unit
5. Full-time minister
6. Graduate with a Masters at a young age
7. Marry at 18 (Black American - to help with racial segragation!)
8. Double wedding with my childhood best-friend
9. Interior Designer
10. Stage make-up artist
11. Have 6 children
12. Travel the world
13. Write a book
As you can see, I had pretty high hopes for my life. Then Reality sets in. My life certainly is not over and some of these things have happened, are happening, or could still happen. All the same, some of them were expectations that God did not see fit to fulfill in my life because his plans for me were, are, and will be better than I could ever think or imagine.
It's funny to me that back in the day, I believed in myself enough to call out those dreams as doable. In a way, I desire to go back to that God given confidence. And that's a goal. On the other hand, because His plans are bigger, better, and brighter in His kingdom, a lot of his plans for me are not nearly as flashy as my own for myself. Nor do they need to be. I have always believed that I could do anything. And at the risk of soundy cheesy, I will still share my thought about this now. God can do whatever he wants in me and now, that's the satisfaction I want to find for my life. A life of love. A life of joy. A life of peace. A life of purpose.
There have been 3 moments on the Race where i made a choice to be a little bit daring, to take a bit of risk. I always have someone reminding me that my loved ones at home would like to see my face again and I of course do keep that in mind. At the same time, I long for adventure, I long to experience the risk of trying. Even if it means ending up bruised and my pride a little broken because of it. So i ask the Lord, as I lay around for days on end trying to heal my heart and body from the fall, where is the balance between expectations of my own that need not be met and a desire to test limits for the purpose of accomplishing more than the ordinary? This weekend, I found the boundary line for one of those but I am still seeking the answer for the rest.
As I came crashing down, so did my thoughts about what I could accomplish on my own. Why? I'm really not sure, they seem to be somewhat unrelated! But God used this. He's molding my heart to be soft to his touch and lenient from the presence of His loving hand. He wants me to remember that I am a child in his eyes, blameless and pure. But He also reminds me that I have warrior status and can claim the empowerment of His Spirit each day. What a welcomed tale of courage I am offered to tell with my days. Now to trust Him for the balance in me.
Here I go again :)
Lastly, there's one more piece to this pride skidding thought process . . . the way I treat others. Deon, one of our Squad Parents on the Race, spoke to us at the last debrief about Scriptures' command to love others "as you love yourself." He emphasized it so much that He even gave us the visual of wrapping our arms around ourselves in a significant move of self endearment. He is so wise. God keeps using he and our Squad Mama, Rynette, in so many ways this year. He said something profound and I must repeat it here . . .
"Do you love God? Yes, yes you do? Hm. do you love your neighbor? Yes, yes you do? Do you love yourself? Ah. Now there's the question. The Bible clearly says that you can't love God without loving your neighbor AND yourself."
Yes, you are right, Deon. Very right. Have I been loving others, myself, and God all in the way that I should? Have I given grace to others as it has been poured out on me. Have I declared myself right more times than necessary, just so that I don't remain feeling wrong? All of this and more have streamed through my thoughts as I remember the rocks being cleared from my wrecked knee and shoulder a few short days ago.
I've always loved people but have I loved them in a way that keeps human expectations at bay and God's purposes alive and built up in them? This is my aim. To walk with God because He's that personal and says that I can. To love my fellow man because Jesus did it and showed us how. To live life to the fullest, all the while realizing that it's in Christ's strength alone that we are equipped to do so vibrantly.
Wrecking that bike and my heart wasn't the worst thing in the world, I really will be fine, but it has brought to light a few areas of my heart that God wants to take hold of. And I'm okay with that.
"Here You go, God, my life and heart are Yours."