As some of you may know my Grandma on my dad's side passed away two weeks ago. At the last minute I decided to make the trip to celebrate her life (thanks to my super generous folks) and it was the best decision I've ever made.
I met precious family I had never had the privilege to meet, grieved with them and was able to spend some quality time with just my dad, my mom and me (rare and tremendous.)
If I stopped there, that would not be the WHOLE story and as you know I'm not one to NOT keep it real.
You see, I also decided I needed a little help. I have been struggling with a lot of emotions the past few years and I figured it was about time to talk to someone who might know a little bit about this:) A.K.A. a psychologist. I spent a few days alone in their cabana talking to an incredible psychologist and his incredible wife. Between the two of them we figured out a few things:) Mainly that I deal with a lot of fear. Fear of failure and fear of being weak amongst many others. This has caused a lot of ugly reactions and a lot of hurt on my part. The good news though is that we've called it out, we've faced it and now I'm better equipped for war (as I feel it is sometimes:)
I'm trying to condense this weekend and all the emotional crap that I sifted thru into that last sentence because that's actually not the purpose of this post. If you want more on that then email me, I'll be glad to talk to about it.
I've been home for a week now, as of today. It's been a good week. I've been talking to friends, having sweet talks with my awesome hubs, spending quality time with my kids (i.e. not yelling at them:) and all in all I feel like I'm heading in the right direction. Then I called a great friend of mine.... and a long talk led me to this post (this is honestly me trying to condense SOOO much in my mind and my heart and my ADD kicking in, into an organized post. I'm trying folks!)
While we were talking this is what she shared "Stephanie, I got onto Facebook to look at a friends post about her sick child (she doesn't have her own account which I think might be a smart thing for me too:) and ALL I saw were christians in full-on debates. About the dumb Noah movie, about World Vision and their stance on gay marriage etc... How could people that share the same Holy Spirit inside of them that I have, say some of the things they are saying?!?! My whole life I've never doubted my faith until now. This has all got to be a joke! Why in the world could you explain the things being said and the way we treat each other?!?!"
Silence. What do you say? What do I say? The truth is... I have felt the EXACT same way. I've never been so aware of the way that Christ's lovers treat each other more than I have the past 4 years on the field....as a missionary.
My heart is pounding as I'm typing and I'm trying HARD to practice my deep breathing that I learned in yoga (that's right, I take yoga folks and before you might even think to gear your thoughts one way be careful...because I have had more prayer time and quiet time with God in yoga class then I have ANYwhere else. Ok, I'm done)
You can look back at over 160 posts on this blog or over 150 short blurbs on Facebook and I can almost guarantee that you will not find anything too controversial on there. Why? Probably a lot of fear (which I mentioned earlier, so see I am tying this together somehow:) but also because the best question is why would I?
As I was talking to my precious friend I told her that I fully felt her heart. We both have hearts for justice. In fact we are justice SEEKERS. I have done a LOT of things wrong in my life as a Christ follower/lover. I have doubted more times than I can count. In fact as I mentioned before, I have doubted my faith more as a missionary than I have any other time in my life. I've been bitter, disappointed, sad and down-right ANGRY about so many things since I've been here. I've seen churches do some ugly things on account of tradition, I've seen people get hurt on account of "sticking to what is right", I've read words that cut to make a point and I've steered clear of all these debates here in my own little world.
Well folks, I'm coming back. That's right, we are headed back the US next year (I will give you the FULL story in a later post, I promise:) and it's something that has caused a lot of anxiety in me but I have at least 9 months to work through that so that's what I plan on doing and here is how:
LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE, LOVE SIMPLY
You know since I have been here in Lima, one of my biggest fears has been to teach the bible to others. I know you can go ahead and laugh or gasp or whatever. I've literally tried all I could to avoid that part of mission work (believe me there are many more parts in case you are wondering, we don't do 60 hours of one on one studies each week) out of fear that I will fail someone at the first question they ask that I can't answer. BUT the other night when I was on the phone I realized something- sometimes relishing in the mystery of God, being in an intimate relationship with God and loving Him and his people is NOT rocket science. I KNOW how to do that. I KNOW how to serve and use my gifts and I have been doing that here in spite of the emotional and spiritual turmoil inside my head.
There are some things that I see as black and white but there is SO much gray for me in the Bible that sometimes it makes my eyes cross! I KNOW I don't have it figured out and I can assure you nobody does. I've stripped off that fear that "people know SOOO much more than me about the word so who am I to study with someone." My simple mind has it down to 3 things:
LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE, LOVE SIMPLY
Here is where the title comes in. I'm sure I have NOT been a good example of that to people that don't know Christ, to people that are on the edge of making that decision or to people that have proclaimed the Lord as their savior. For this I am SO sorry. I'm sorry for putting doubt into that unbeliever. I'm sorry if I have said anything on this blog or on Facebook that has caused someone that was curious about this life I lead to be turned off by my words or actions.
I'm NOT here to debate theology, nor to debate gay marriage, not here to discuss the use of a guitar in service, nor my sister in Christ praying in church or not, nor church names, nor Noah movies, nor water emersion, alcohol drinking or anything else. If you want that debate, I don't have time. You want to know why? Cause I'm busy-
LOVING GOD, LOVING PEOPLE, LOVING SIMPLY
Do I think it's actually this simple? Yeah, I do. It's how I'm choosing to live and I honestly believe that if we spent HALF of the time we spend debating on Facebook, slandering each other and other precious humans and spent that time loving on them, we might actually have nothing to talk about.
P.S. Just wanted to add (after waking up at 1:00am in a sweat:) that this is NOT to say that I am not going to be stumbling, falling and making MANY mistakes (as I already have, Lord help me) along this journey BUT it just means that I'm hoping that all the others claiming to be on this same journey of loving God and loving people, will also grant me the same grace we were so graciously given.
P.S.S. This also does not mean that I don't have some strong convictions about certain things. It just means that God's first two commandments are CLEAR and even when certain things might make me angry, sad or just have me disagree that I am FIRST called to Love. That means there is a certain arena, manner and loving way in which to handle questions, debates or thoughts.
Ok, now I'm really done.