Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I don't want to end up where you found me...

I have been dreading this all day...writing the blog post I mean.  That would be a first.  I rarely run out of things to say and am always anxious to jot down my thoughts here.  But today I am at a loss.  I am feeling this surge of anxiety to work, work, work and yet this pull to be free and relaxed.

In Africa things move slow.  There are no to-do lists, no agendas, mostly no clocks.  In American culture we are tied to those minutes and hours.  We are addicted to accomplishing tasks and checking them off lists.  Transitioning into the African way of life was difficult and took many days.  I was always anxious to do, to accomplish, to be productive.  Now, transitioning back, I mourn the loss of the African way.  As Forbes and I sat down to coffee this morning and slowly began our to-do list, I silently wept that our trip was over.

Yes, we are home now.  We arrived a little after 5pm last night.  Just in time to whip up a quick dinner in my own kitchen. 

Not long after dinner, we made a trip out for TCBY self-serve!  While we were away the new one near our home opened and it was the perfect welcome home.  While there are many things I will miss about Africa, having TCBY just a mile down the road is reassuring and comforting.

Already we have been in many situations to share our story of Africa, and already I have struggled with the right words and emotions to describe our experience.  I realized yesterday as I was once again telling our story, that I struggle because I am telling it all wrong.  I was focused on the "American Way" and forgetting that the point of the story was how I lost myself in the "African Way".  How do I mean?  Remember above when I mentioned that Americans are obsessed with accomplishments and checks on a to-do list?  So I thought that I needed to come home and tell everyone our accomplishments.  We gave devotions each day to the children at the OVC.  We helped build a fish pond, emptied another one, and harvested a third.  We visited villagers at their homes and prayed with them and met the elderly at the homeless shelter.  That is what we did.

What I forgot to mention is how none of what we did actually mattered.  Because what matters in Africa is not what you do, but who you meet.  The relationships you build and the people you encourage and support spiritually, mentally and physically.  I was giving detailed accounts of where we went and what tasks were managed, rather than how I sat with a man who has the faith of a small army and learned from him, or how I discovered my gift of prayer.  Jesus was the center of all our activities and the motivating power behind this trip and yet I have failed to mention him in many of my stories.  My faith, that grew enormously in Africa, has already been squelched to the size of a pea.  Sadly I am losing my zeal and boldness. 

Here I am, Lord, and I'm drowning in your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don't want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight
I know You've cast my sin as far as the east is from the west
And I stand before You now as though I've never sinned
But today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way

(Casting Crowns "East to West")

Again and again these words echo in my mind, "I don't want to end up where You found me..."  Now that I am home, I am hyper-aware that if I do not make a deliberate decision to change, and continue to live in the lessons I learned in Africa, that I will just slip right back to my old self.  I am trusting in God to not allow that to happen.  I need that to not happen.  I don't want to forget this experience and how it has changed me.  I don't want to end up where He found me.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." 
                     Galatians 2:20

1 comment:

  1. So hard to keep the perspective you gain somewhere like Africa, on mission for Jesus. I heard Rich Stearns (World Vision) say that he has to ask God to break his heart again and again. I think He has to do that for each of us. And we have to be willing to be broken.