Ripped Shorts, Ants & a Mug
There are so many things that happen in all of our lives that we should share with one another. Things that will encourage, inspire and challenge.
I was talking with a missionary friend this week. As we were talking, we realized that we all know how to play this "game." We know the right things to say, the right way to act. When you get down to it, we just care what people think about US. It's kind of a gross realization, but one that, if we're honest, is there nonetheless. We are people pleasers.
With social media, our lives (and yours) have the possibility to be observed by so many. That is scary. And for some reason...when you move your family to a different country - something out of the "norm," it feels like people tend to elevate and almost idolize your life. We hear "I don't know how you do it...I could never do that...You sacrifice so much...You're such an inspiration...(And we get plenty of the opposite as well: "Must be nice to suffer in the Caribbean for Jesus...") As uncomfortable as that is...there's something down deep that also feels good, to know that people think about you...pray for you...support you and want to know about you and your family. When you walk into a church, you're "that missionary family." Whether you like it or not, it happens...and we wear the mask that we need to wear for that day - to be who we think you need us to be - for that day.
We've had a different opportunity than other missionaries to "speak openly" since for most of our time here, we've not lived on raised support, but through a paid job. So many don't feel the freedom to speak freely for fear of offending, losing financial or emotional supporters or even being kicked out of their organization. But to be honest, even though others applaud our ability and courage to speak freely - it's the new "popular" thing to do, and I want to make sure that I'm sharing freely for the right reasons...we are still human and crave that attention and affirmation from others and I don't want to lose focus.
For any of you who have followed us for long, you know that I'm constantly struggling to confirm that what we are doing here is making a difference. Recently, I have realized that I have an unusual platform. Our family isn't only here to live and work among Haitians, but we also have a responsibility to all of you - those of you who are challenged, encouraged and inspired through our lives to be more like Jesus.
And for THAT reason, I feel like I need to continue to share. And I hope some of you will start, or continue, to share the stories in your life that will encourage, inspire and challenge the rest of us.
"Mom...there are ants all over in the cupboard."
Sigh...not how I really wanted to start my Saturday morning. But, wanted or not, the ants were there and needed to be dealt with. So, I drag myself out of bed and start cleaning out the cupboard. As I was cleaning, I notice the dishes that I left in the sink from dinner last night COVERED in ants. (No big surprise...we know this happens...but last night, it sounded easier to deal with the ants in the morning than to do the dishes...wrong.) Back to the cupboard...ants have invaded an almost brand new 500+ goude ($8+ US) bag of sweet marshmallow cereal that we splurged on last week because we went to the "nice" grocery store where they have lots of YUMMY things. Can’t salvage. Throw away. (And before you judge too quickly...we have been known to eat many things with dead ants in them...these were just BEYOND freezing in the freezer.)
The next thing I know, Jaron and his little friend Ti Claude show up at the house. Jaron asks if Ti Claude can use the bathroom. Sure - he comes in. I turn around as he walks into the bathroom and his little bum is hanging out the back of his completely ripped up shorts.
Heart breaks. It's not that it is uncommon to see kids running around in ripped clothing...especially on a weekend. But, at the sight, my heart hurt.
I tell Jaron to grab him a pair of shorts. As we dig through Jaron’s drawer full of shorts, trying to find one small enough to stay on his little waist, Jar says, "Thanks mom, his friends were making fun of him this morning, but we just laughed." We finally found one that I thought might not fall off. I went to help him roll the top so they would stay on better and he hurried to take them off thinking I wanted them back.
Heart breaks again. He’s so tiny.
They get ready to leave and I remember all the cracker and cookie packs in my cupboard that I just cleaned that have been there for months. I loaded up a gallon sized zip lock bag with snacks and filled an empty coke bottle with water. Jaron said - "Thanks mom, this just made his day."
They head out on his little dirt bike. A few minutes later they’re back - “Mom! Ti Claude left his shorts in the bathroom...can you grab them?!” He came back for his ripped shorts. He still wanted them. Most likely because he would be in trouble if he showed up at home without them. I would have thrown them away. She will probably sew them up for the next kid.
I bawled...like couldn't pull myself together, ugly crying in the kitchen. Leaning over my granite counter-top. We have so much.
I struggle every single day with how and when to help. I think about every effect of every decision. It's exhausting. The hurts that my kids go through when we give too much to one friend and not the same to another. Moms seriously get upset with their kids and treat MY kids badly when they go to greet them.
But today, I just felt like it wasn’t even a choice. It was what had to be done. And after the boys left, I felt like God said - see. That was Me. That’s what it’s supposed to look like. I want to love others through you. Let me.
Over the past few months, I've been reading and thinking a lot. If there are so many Christians in this world, why is there so much hurt and poverty? Why isn't our all powerful, all loving God stepping in to fix this corrupt, hurting world? God has an abundance - everything is HIS.
While I don't think I'll ever know the answer to all of my questions, I do know that God wants to love people through US. I felt God's love by simply giving a pair of shorts and some snacks. I hope Ti Claude felt God's love by receiving. When are we going to realize that there is more than enough? We hold so tightly to things that we don't need.
One of our friends had a fire at her house this week. She lost everything. We quickly gathered some of our extras and loaded up some suitcases to take to her. Well, I was grabbing extras...Morgan was bringing out some of her favorite clothes, and she was going through our cupboards and taking out dishes to which I heard myself saying, "No, not that one...I like that one." You guys! How gross was my heart?! I didn't want to give a certain MUG because I liked it. A mug that I may have used twice this past year. Our friend just lost everything.
Father, help me.
I believe that we are seeing so much hurt and poverty and destruction because so many of us, who call ourselves Christians, are not allowing God to live through us. We are here to be His body, His hands and feet. Holy Spirit, you are WELCOME here. God IS Love. Let Him live in you so that others will feel His love through your life. Go be LOVE.