Thursday, April 2, 2015

Broken Tiles.

It's been an interesting season. South Africa has swept in and whisked me off my feet. I've found myself falling in love with this place and missing others all at the same time. Living in a foreign country that sometimes feels so familiar and sometimes feels totally alien. Learning new things daily. Taking in the colorful tapestry of culture, language, accents, and places. And then-like being hit over the head from behind-suddenly trudging through the mud and muck of some very difficult things that I didn't see coming. Finding myself in the presence of that old familiar voice I never wanted to hear again. Anxiety. Depression even. Waking up one day and being shocked when I glance in the mirror to see that brokenness and messiness have hit me in a new and unique way and the person who was once inside this shell is somehow very different right now. That realization is quite frightening at first. And was fought against. Despised, even. Until finally accepted. Which is actually the best moment of all, because even though I may not see it all leave at that moment, I begin to learn the meaning of it. I begin to understand that only when I am shattered and helpless on my own can I truly begin serving others well.

I have rarely felt this many emotions at once. A visa extension was denied and instead of coming home in June or July, I am on a plane in 2 weeks. I went through some serious sobbing when I found out. Anxiety flooding my veins as if it was taking over and draining me of my life. I don't feel ready to leave this place. The people. New and old friends. The way Jesus has absolutely blown my mind with sunsets, people, nature, animals, children, culture, ministry. There've been days of watching Him work overtime. And days of talking, exploring, learning, and laughing with dear ones. Days of working alone and quietness and wrestling with myself. Sickness. Good health. Loneliness. All of it. And it's going to end more suddenly and abruptly than wanted. 

Yesterday I awoke a bit different. A bit more like the person I am used to. 
A spark in my eye and an extra jump in my dance. (My feet aren't thanking me. Zumba blisters is a thing and they're not happy that I'm "all about the bass" lately.) There may be many things that are disappointing me right now-places and people and things that are taking me by difficult surprise. There may be the biggest mix of emotions ever felt at once. Emotions that change by the hour sometimes. Trepidation over a future I know nothing about. Will it be hard to adjust to things and will others understand? Will I fit back in or have to start over? Is there a place for me? What'll I do? Who will do it with me? How do I live? No idea. No plans. No fall-backs. No "Well, if THAT doesn't work out I'll just......." 

Yesterday the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. He reminded me that this is the opportunity for the greatest adventure yet. And that it's okay to have a huge knot in my stomach right now. It's okay to say "I have no Earthly idea what the heck I'm doing." As long as I still choose to step onto the ride, lift my hands, and allow the operator to be in charge rather than insisting I understand where it's headed, how fast, what waits for me, and how long it'll take to get there. 
It's okay to feel all the things. It's okay to be in a million pieces. I am seriously learning that there is a way to absolutely flourish in that state. And do it beautifully. 
Being honest about things and refusing to sit in a dark self-focussed corner. It is possible to use that soft and sensitive state to love even better and gentler and more fully than before. After all, Jesus served all of humanity the very most when He was in His messiest, weakest, and most shattered state. One beyond any I will ever know. He spoke, encouraged, loved, took care of, and lived an example in the middle of unbearable pain. And that is the balance I must learn. To stop being ashamed of it and allow it to make me more beautiful even if I don't understand how that works. All I know is that when you have a bunch of shattered pieces of broken tile from different things and places, and you pick them up and put them all together, you have one of the most beautiful inventions of all time. A mosaic. Some of it is bright, bold, and beautiful. Some of it soft and lovely and inviting. Some of it even reflects whatever is around it back onto itself to be glimpsed in the light of the colorful beauty. It becomes something to behold, one piece at a time. And that is what I long for. That is what we should all want to be.

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