Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Most people are simply impressed that she had given up whatever career and big money she could have chosen to agree with her husband that they would move the entire family overseas. Away from anyone they knew or were related to. Away from friends, familiarity, security. No material items and no guarantee or promise of anything specific for the future. Just a deeply planted knowledge that Jesus saves and others needed to hear that. And to this day, that's what most people know and see of her.

I knew who she was for years but didn't really ever speak with her. One day, as I was considering a future in missions, I found her on Facebook. We became friends and I introduced myself. Over time, we chatted across the continents. And I began to see what a beautiful person she is. I saw all the things others did. But I also slowly learned so much more. I began to see what many others don't know. 

What they don't know is all the details of what and how she does life. What they aren't aware of is how much she went through these last years. How hurt she was by people she should be able to trust. How uncertain the terrain looked for a while. How little she had and has at times.  How many times she's been robbed. And the way in which despite all of that, she doesn't let the attention and knowledge of this fall on her. Instead, she cares deeply about people. All people. The day came when I traveled overseas on a short-term trip and I finally got to hang out with her in her town. And I saw so much that she wouldn't ever let onto. She is so much smarter than she lets on. She is a linguist. She's learned multiple languages and continues to learn more. She often speaks her husband's childhood language when talking with him because it's what he grew up with. She flips back and forth between several languages with ease when out in public. She sees-I mean-REALLY sees- everyone she comes into contact with. The first time I hung out with her, I was struck by the way she really looked at every waiter, every person working in a toll-booth on the road. She stopped and thanked them. Showed them compassion. Every time. It taught me something I wanted to learn and do in my own life. I was astonished by the way in which she really listens to you. Hears not only what you're saying, but what your heart is feeling underneath your words. And she focuses fully on the conversation and asks meaty, deep questions. Then, when you're done venting, she always cleverly thinks of a way to make you laugh hysterically until you've found some healing. How she manages to do this is beyond me. And even though it isn't her main focus, she easily creates art, writes and sings music beautifully, and should she have time to sit and write anything out, she creates vividly beautiful stories. Yet all of these things are kept quiet and unseen by most. Her daily life is spent quietly and busily serving. She serves her family. She serves her church and the community around her. Her heart weeps over the tough lives of the teens she works with. And she goes through each day simply loving on and really seeing every person. Again. And again. And again. Seeing. Loving. Inviting them into Jesus. Seeing. Loving. Inviting them into Jesus. The passion with which she does this is convicting to any person who sees it and my life has been deeply influenced by her example, her life, her days, her love. And the way she sees, loves, and invites me into Jesus. Again. And again. And Again. The quiet and unassuming way in which she does this is to me a picture of a real "missionary." A picture of what it looks like to set aside all the "coulds" for the simplicity of seeing, loving, and inviting into Jesus. That, to me, is Grace. And that is what I call her. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

What it's doing to me.

I’m angry. No. Not just angry. Furious. And I don’t even know how to express it all except to bang on this keyboard until I’ve gotten most of it out into solid words. Even then, I’m not sure what to make of it.

About 2 months ago, I deleted the Facebook app off my phone. I didn’t announce it to anyone. I didn’t write a post or have a sarcastic speech in which I explained why I am now so much better than facebook and everyone who chooses to continue “wasting time” on it. I didn’t even delete my whole account because I have friends all over the globe and I DO believe it’s a wonderful way to keep in touch. I simply took away the temptation to be on it every day. Not because I think it’s stupid. Not because I’m bitter of fed up with people. But because I realized how broken I’ve become. I realized what the entire concept of social media can do. And I realized that if a mature, level-headed, healthy, aware adult can struggle with some of these issues, we need to be much more concerned for our teenagers. I wanted and needed to think long and hard about some of these things. So I did.

I already knew that I spent too much time on it. Not as much as some people, but too much. I knew I was missing out on a lot of things because my nose was in my newsfeed. That wasn’t anything surprising. I knew I looked too much at what everyone else posted. And I knew that meant I compared myself and my life to others. But what I DIDN’T realized yet was just how much all of that was affecting me emotionally and mentally. I hadn’t stopped to analyze the degree of impact this actually had on me. I knew I was an adult. Intelligent. Capable. Able. I’m going into Psychology for heaven’s sake, I should be able to handle things as much (dare I say even better?) than many others out there. But when I took all the time I had been spending on social media and used it be quiet, un-distracted, unseen, and to really consider how I was doing, I was surprised at what I found. So surprised, in fact, that it took a few days to fully comprehend. I had grown insecure. I had come to view my life as not only less than others, but embarrassing. I was ashamed of what I and my life looked like. I felt ugly, messy, fat, incapable, not good enough, not interesting enough, and less than everyone I knew. I had even begun to hide because I felt so much less than so many of my friends. I stopped going out so much. I began streaming church online because I was embarrassed to be on campus and have others think about how fat or messy I looked. I just felt like I couldn’t keep up, be enough, do enough. And I had fallen apart. All of this had happened because I was looking at everyone else's lives and comparing myself to something I can never obtain. Only when I deleted all the distraction did I fully see the extent to which it had affected me. And I got scared. It terrified me to think that this could happen to me. That I could end up in a pit like this. A pit like that is very hard to get out of. It takes a lot of time, work, intention, attention, strides, and help. Because of who I am and what I’ve lived, I know I will be fine. But I became so concerned for others. My friends. And teenagers. And the generations to come. What about them?!?! What about people who start this earlier? Younger? More often? And never see it and never get out of it? If I can crumble and get to the point of feeling this horrible about my life, what is society doing to us? I almost can’t even think to ask these questions because it disturbs me so deeply.

Fashion. Thigh gaps. Plump Lips. Make-up. Pastel hair. Tattoos. Stretch marks. Short shorts. Botox. Libo. Fitness obsessions. Eating disorders. Laser surgeries. Hollywood. Magazines. Pinterest. Photoshop. Only in the last 10 years have we grown into a society of seeing this every time we pick up our smartphones, log into Google, or turn on the television. When my mom was young, she would have to hunt for and purchase a copy of Vogue to see any of this. And young girls today are viewing ALL of this before they’re even developed or able to think rationally. Call me extreme. Call me a feminist. Call me ridiculous. Say I’m starting to sound like an old lady. I don’t care how you want to label it. Roll your eyes. But think about it. We have a HUGE problem. I can't log into my social media and have any way to be as good as everything that flashes before my eyes. In what world is this healthy?!?! And unless we intentionally speak out about it and take some major action to fix it, society is going to ruin young women. We WILL be destroyed. I don’t have all the answers. I’m still working it all out. I still feel insecure. I’m still falling flat on my face. But I'm determined to walk the road of becoming healthy in an increasingly sick society. I'm stubborn enough to stand up and be irate at what we're doing to women today. And I refuse to stop saying that it's wrong and I need to see some real men stand up and say so too! But I’m doing it at the feet of the one who accepts and loves me unconditionally. I’m doing it in the safety of the one who lovingly hand-created me with intention and asking Him to show me exactly what that even means. And I’m trusting that He is using all of this for something beautiful and glorious, because He never fails to. He weaves it all into the most beautiful piece of art we could ever hope for and then some.