You are so loved, and so chosen.
You are so loved, and so chosen.
“First,” said she, “I learned that I must accept with joy all that you allowed to happen to me on the way and everything to which the path led me! That I was never to try to evade it but to accept it and lay down my own will on the altar and say, ‘Behold me, I am thy little handmaiden Acceptance-with-Joy.'”
“Then I learned that I must bear all that others were allowed to do against me and to forgive with no trace of bitterness and to say to thee, ‘Behold me – I am thy little handmaiden Bearing-with-Love,’ that I may receive power to bring good out of this evil.”
“The third thing that I learned was that you, my Lord, never regarded me as I actually was, lame and weak and crooked and cowardly. You saw me as I would be when you had done what you promised and had brought me to the High Places, when it could be truly said, ‘There is none that walks with such a queenly ease, nor with such grace, as she.’ You always treated me with the same love and graciousness as though I were a queen already and not wretched little Much-Afraid.” Then she looked up into his face for a little time and could say no more, but at last she added, “My Lord, I cannot tell you how greatly I want to regard others in the same way.”
“The fourth thing,” said she with a radiant face, “was really the first I learned up here. Every circumstance in life, no matter how crooked and distorted and ugly it appears to be, if it is reacted to in love and forgiveness and obedience to your will can be transformed.”
“Therefore I begin to think, my Lord, you purposefully allow us to be brought into contact with the bad and evil things you want changed. Perhaps that is the very reason why we are here in this world, where sin and sorrow and suffering and evil abound, so that we may let you teach us so to react to them, that out of them we can create lovely qualities to live forever…”
It’s no secret the past couple of years have been one heck of a rollercoaster for me. I appreciate that you read along with me during my last few months in Nashville and my time in Uganda. I miss the children more everyday. As for this blog, I think I’m wrapping it up. I’m thankful I had this place to vent and that somehow I was able to be so candid in some of my posts. However, there was always a vague ulterior motive in my writing in a public forum. Jesus has silently and distantly been doing some work in my heart and helping me overcome things.
This chapter is closing. Love you loads.
I wish I could type in every word I’ve read by Brennan Manning. But I can’t…you know, copyright nonsense.
Insecurity not only paralyzes our relationship with the living God, but has a devastating effect on interpersonal relationships. It is the starting point of all social estrangement. It breaks down openness, which is the bridge to the existential world of the other. It undermines real communication and causes a kind of rupture in the evolution of authentic personality.
From The Importance of Being Foolish by, none other than, Brennan Manning.
It was actually quite ironic that I read this bit today.
I am quickly approaching the end my first full month in Uganda. If you haven’t been reading along, here’s the short version. I had expectations of how I was going to feel, how this trip was going to change me. The expectations were not met. I was discouraged and disappointed. I have since (read: recently, as in the past week) let go of such expectations, and started trusting Jesus with a deeper trust than I ever gave him the opportunity of having before.
I started trusting that although I wasn’t feeling a certain way, He was using me here. Jesus was not revealing my stubborn and ignorant heart to these children. He was revealing my kisses and “I love you”s, my teethbrushing and tutoring efforts. Ultimately, Jesus was revealing Himself in me. Jesus was prevailing. Jesus was winning the war I was having with myself.
I think it was probably this weekend, a change finally happened and I threw up my white, surrender flag. Jesus, you win. After I practically drowned in a class five rapid, I was somewhat scared to continue on in the raft. We had the option of going in the safe boat. Then I heard it. No, I didn’t hear the voice of Jesus. Well maybe it was Jesus, but I don’t know for sure. I’m not one to normally recite things, I can’t remember verses or movie lines. But it started repeating in the back of my brain, the tail end of Nehemiah 8:10 (I didn’t remember the actual location of the verse, I looked it up when I got home). “…the joy of the LORD is your strength, the joy of the LORD is your strength, the joy of the LORD is your strength.” I know that’s a fairly common saying among Christians, but like I said, I don’t normally recite stuff. I think Jesus was getting a lot of joy from seeing me finally really take hold of the adventurous spirit He gave me, and I found strength in that and continued on in the rapids. There were a few moments where I caught myself smiling bigger than I have in years. It was so hard to contain. It was hurting my face. And it was a smile that could not be attributed to any other person’s doing. It was the joy of the Lord, bursting forth in my being.
I have been so lost in the pursuit of things (a job, relationships, making my family proud, saving money, going to Africa, general approval from people), that I have absolutely and miserably failed to see God’s pursuit of me. And it’s a pursuit that knows no timeframe or distance, seeing as it’s followed me 23 years and halfway around the world.
I’ve been filled with a false perception of perfection. I’ve met this realization before, but I don’t know if I’ve ever actually acknowledged it. I’ve read it time and time again, and probably even highlighted it each time. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Now you’re probably wondering how any of this has to do with the excerpt. While reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, I read a part where Lewis mentions how a person cannot fully love a fellow being without first loving God. I was (and still very much am) insecure regarding my relationship with Jesus Christ. Thus creating all sorts of insecurities in myself, and shortchanging the people with whom I have relationships. This includes, but is not limited to: not trusting that my parents would love me regardless of how high I jumped, telling my sister false things so she wouldn’t turn around and hate me, not communicating openly with my friends because I didn’t want to cause conflict, sacrificing things I’m shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice in relationships to be the perfect girlfriend.
I was/am insecure in the person Jesus created me to be. Therefore, the relationships I have with anyone tend to be somewhat false. It’s taken 27 Ugandan children to reveal to me how perfect the person God has created me to be actually is. I can wear the same dress three days in a row, and they still embrace me. I can wear my glasses all the time and be breaking out from not using normal face wash, and they still tell me I’m beautiful. I can dance with no rythym, and they try to do the same. I can sing off key, and they want to hear another song. I can get frustrated during a lesson, and they come to me the next day wanting more. I don’t know why I had to go so far from “home” to see this, you love me just the same.
Clearing away the insecurities allows me the ability to see God’s pursuit of me. And in turn, also allows me to pursue God more fully and maintain more secure, honest relationships. I almost posted a preface to this entry, warning of it’s overly spiritual tone…but then I thought, screw it, being more secure in my relationship with Christ means being transparent, even at the risk of making others feel uncomfortable.
I am truly learning to love you and I miss you. The night is coming to an end and I’ll leave you with 1 Corinthians 13:10 …but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
Jesus is good. Jesus is real. Jesus is forgiving. I’m not going to elaborate much, except to say I’m sincerely saying those things for the first time in a very, very long time. Longer than you think and longer than I’m willing to admit.
So could you love this bastard child?
Though I don’t trust you to provide
With one hand in a pot of gold
And with the other in your side
‘Cause I am so easily satisfied
By the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash
Over your very flesh and blood
‘Cause I am a whore I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
And I run down the aisle, I run down the aisle
I’m a prodigal with no way home
But I put you on just like a ring of gold
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle to you
Wedding Dress by Derek Webb
I’m going rafting on the Nile Saturday (no big deal) and will be slumber partying with my American friend Rachel tomorrow and Saturday night. She’s staying with a pastor of a church. His family has a toilet and a shower! Oh, hot water, how I’m looking forward to our reunion!! I won’t be updating until Sunday night, so here’s pictures to hold you over.
This girl doesn’t reside at the orphanage and I don’t know her name. Quite frankly, she tests my patience. She’s always interupting my lessons with the kids here. And when I ask her to “faluma” or “ganda” she doesn’t leave. She just stands there and smiles. But she did take a really cute picture.
I love this picture of Paul and Anisha. He was trying to get her to pose for me and she wanted to stand on this little ledge on the wall. At one point, Paul was talking to someone else and not looking at Anisha. She thought he was going to leave. Look at her little hand grabbing not only at his shirt, but also checking to make sure he’s still protecting her. And Ruthie is trying to sneak in the shot between them.
Anisha was no longer in the posing/smiling mood. Mercy was trying to get her to look at the camera. It was a failed attempt. The babies always have crust all over their face. It disgusted me at first, but whatever. Snot, mouse/rats, pit latrines…it’s all old news now.
I love you and I miss you, but I don’t want to hog the internet all night. Chani probably wants to send out a few emails.
It’s a two-for!
Both are from The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, which I finished today. Onto The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
Pity was meant to be a spur that drives joy to help misery. But it can be used the wrong way round. It can be used for a kind of blackmailing. Those who chose misery can hold joy up to ransom, by pity.
Sweet Jesus, what an honest truth. Please save me from the misery and pity I’m constantly looking for in the situations I’m in (and I’m not just talking about Uganda). Joy. Pure, holy, amazing joy, Jesus.
Our light can swallow up your darkness; but your darkness cannot now infect our light. No, no, no. Come to us. We will not go to you. Can you really have thought that love and joy would always be at the mercy of frowns and sighs? Did you not know they were stronger than their opposites?
(Emphasis added.) Truth.
…but lion chasers know that God is connecting the dots in ways they can’t comprehend. Lion chasers are humble enough to let God call the shots and brave enough to follow where he leads.
From In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson.
Last night I saw the children pray for the first time. I nearly started to cry. Children as young as three and four prayer far more passionately and with more conviction than I have ever prayed. They stood, closed their eyes or covered their faces (a move that shows their fear of Lord) and all just started conversing with God. I wish I could have understood what they were praying. I sat there looking on, really more awe-struck than I’ve been in a very long time. In my simple prayer to God as I watched on, I asked that He make these children lion chasers. The odds are stacked against them, but they are called to great things. I prayed they have the strength to follow Christ with such passion for the rest of their lives.
As for me, I think this trip is revealing a bit of the lion chaser in myself. I hope you, too, are finding lions to chase and trusting what Jesus has put in your heart to do this moment. For us alone, it will most certainly be too great of a task to complete. But isn’t too much, too dangerous or too outrageous for Him to handle.