Sunday, February 24, 2013
I don't know what it is. I miss the feel of their Ebony skin against my Ivory. I miss their big smiles during times of games and laughter. I miss the small hand that would slip into mine in a tight grasp. I miss the words spoken that I couldn't understand. I miss the dirt constantly covering my feet, and the water never being warm. I miss my family there and singing with the girls in the kitchen. I miss seeing Jesus in every person, in every widow, in every child. I miss who I was there. I miss the fact that I am changing and growing and a big part of me is missing because it is there. And the only thing I do is give it to Him and trust and know that He is taking care of them, just as He is taking care of me. it's just hard. So tonight I reminisce.
I inhale, breathing deep the smells that surround me. Dirt and fields, and the smell of too many bodies pushed together flood my senses. To my right, the only other white person in the crowd of 25 scrunched together in the DalaDala. To my left and elderly man; smaller than my nephew, and he smells of baby powder. An on my lap sits a school-aged girl, I do not know. I breathe in again wanting to remember this forever and let the sense fill my nose. This is Africa. This is Tanzania.
We pass by a sign "a billion reasons to believe in Africa." a billion things I think, seeing a young boy digging through garbage and holding up a bottle someone has carelessly tossed away. One man's trash is a child's treasure. The dirt sticks to my sandaled feet, giving the appearance that my skin is darker than it actually is. I wipe it away, but realize my feet will never be clean. This is Africa. This is Tanzania.
I walk the edge of the road looking for the DalaDala stop. 5 men come up to me, one is tall and friendly looking, the others short, one wears a colored stocking cap. They are shouting town names at me and other words in Swahili. "Tunaenda Kisesa" I say. One man grips my arm tight and pulls me toward a bus. "Kisesa" he says with a sly smirk on his face. The tall man from before grabs my hand and steps between me and the fox-faced man. "NO, not Kisesa" in broken English this man has helped me. Has kept me safe. Even though we're strangers. This is Africa. This is Tanzania.
I get this strange feeling when I'm about to leave a place. It's like I know I'll not only miss the people I love but I'll miss the person I am now because I'll never be this way again.
His and yours,
Sunday, February 10, 2013
And right now I feel like I need to cut open my heart and let the words bleed onto the pages and just be raw. To anyone who is reading this, to anyone who knows me or doesn't I have real heartache in this area of my life. It goes deep, deeper than I ever imagined. It goes beyond my decision to drink and get tipsy last night. It goes beyond my decision to never reveal my real feelings to that one person. It goes beyond my decision to try to rush back into life without knowing where I am going. It's a deep conviction one that I struggle to let go of. I regret the silliest of things. Sometimes it's as dumb as choosing orange juice when I wanted chocolate milk. It's hard to explain and at times if I tell people I regret certain things I do or choose, I get that look that says, "You're such a prude, you can never let loose and have fun." But at what cost to me is this?
Pain. Deep Convicting Pain. and Judgment. I judge myself hard. And it's hard to explain to people why I do this. I rush to fit in, I rush to try and avoid those looks and those comments and in my rushing I find regret. I find I forget who I am and who I was made to be. And I find that my fear and my regret is keeping me trapped in place. God is calling me to let go of those things. To leave the regret and fear at His feet, because right now they are eating away at me. They are rotting my soul and I can't breathe through this pain.
In my rush to forget my sadness of missing a place where my heart iss, I jumped into the culture of life back home. Now I am not judging any of these people. I am not judging a SINGLE person who lives this lifestyle. And typically when a person says this they are, but I guess if you know me than you'll know if I am truly being honest. But for me this night life of going out and being care free and inviting guys to hit on me and drinking a little to much and calling someone at 2 am and saying things I would never say... well it's just not for me. But last night I rushed into it. And today the regret as literally swallowed me whole.
But it's not just this time. This moment of regret laid down the track in my mind to think about all the other things that I have regret about and then before I knew it i was laying on my couch wishing that I could just tear out my heart and stomp on it for being so stupid sometimes. I wanted to tear off my flesh and burn it because than maybe my spirit would finally be stronger. But the truth is, I blocked out the One voice who believes that my life is nothing to regret.
As I sat in a car last night and all the people around me were sleeping, I stared out at the rain rolling down the window and had this moment when I saw my reflection in the window. this moment where I didn't know who the heck I was anymore. It's so hard for me to express these things to people and to make them understand, but there is something in me that causes me to believe that I am worthless, that I do stupid things and that regret builds and builds up until it swallows me whole.
regret of never putting my full self into school.
regret of never saying sorry first.
regret of letting jealously and anger ruin friendships.
regret of never telling that person I had feelings for him.
regret of letting people walk away when I should hold onto them.
regret of holding on to people when I should let them go.
regret of not telling my family I love them enough.
regret of living my life so carelessly while others who have nothing live fuller than me.
regret.regret.regret. that word is a burn on my hand, a thorn in my side, an ache in my skull. It's there and I feel it, but I just can't get rid of it.
I know that people are going to tell me. You're allowed to have fun, you're 22 years old. go out, enjoy yourself. and i do and I will. But the fun that I want, the joy I get, is not in a bottle of alcohol, not in a fancy dress and boots, not in a guy asking me for my number. My joy is found in the the face of that little girl. In the hands of the widow. In the kitchen of the family who is teaching me how to cook. In the arms of Jesus. And in my rush to make sure I wasn't being seen as a prude or a loser, I let go of the arms that held me out of the pool of regret and began to drown. The truth is I want my life to appear neat and orderly. Like I have it all together. and the problem with that is, is that when I make a mistake or do something that seems "out of character" I feel like i have to try and try to save face. and I shouldn't have to. God is my only judge, and I tend to forget that. I need to remember that the way Jesus has wrecked my life is the way it supposed to be. Nothing else should be wrecking this life I have. Because Jesus' wreck is beauty wrapped up in so much love. and the world's wreck is beauty wrapped up in so much pain.
No we are not called to be safe. And sometimes we will make stupid decision, sometimes we will feel regret. but we are promised that when we are in danger, when we are in these moments, that God is right there with us. And there is no better place to be than in His arms. I read somewhere that "to the degree that God will use you for His glory, the devil to the same degree will attempt to destroy you." And looking at the past three weeks since I have return home from Africa, I can say I have been living in this quote. All through Africa I felt peace and joy in every moment and in coming home I felt peace and joy in all of those steps. And then arriving home, the enemy as pounced and attacked and my footing as slipped and in many moments, today especially I feel myself hanging on to the edge with my fingers turning white crying out to God to save me. And the enemy is there standing over me stepping on my fingers screaming in my face "He's not going to help you, but I can help you. Here take this drink it will make you forget that little girl you cried over last night. Everyone else is doing it, they'll think you're a prude do it. Do it Cami. DO IT." and so I did. and my finger slipped more and I looked up into the fiery eyes of the enemy last night and asked why? why? "Because you are worth nothing to these people. they find enjoyment in your stupidity, don't you feel cool they are all laughing at you because you can't control what you are saying?"
Tears pooled in my eyes and I cried myself to sleep, hanging onto the cliff, my fingers white and filled with pain. And just when I thought I couldn't let hang on anymore, just when the enemy's foot was drawing blood from my finger. He was there, my Jesus. He pulled me from that edge and sat me on His lap and held me in His arms. He didn't tell me all I did wrong, He didn't scold me. He held me and dried my tears. And then when my tears were dried and my breathing steady He spoke. Gently right into my heart, right into the depths. "Cameron, you are WORTH more than you give yourself credit for. Your life to me is precious, your heart to me is precious. My plan for you is more than what you allow yourself to see. Let go of regret, let go of the fear, and let go of the rush to fit in. You don't fit in. I didn't make you to fit in. They cannot judge you, they cannot hurt you. I am with you. Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Don't let go of me. Never let go of me. Because Cameron, I have never and will never let go of you."
This is my heart. This is the depths of my pain. This is raw and this is me. I make mistakes, I do stupid things. And yet my God gives me grace. He forgives me. People may not, people may judge me for the stupid things I do, people may think that I am not worthy of the calling. That I have done this missions work and then I turn around and drink. But what this moment has taught me is. I don't care what those people think. They cannot judge me. And I will not let the regret of that moment and my past moments hold me down and drown me. I make mistakes. I am human. and God loves me. and that is enough for me.
In my journal from Tanzania on November 29th 2012 I wrote "God's grace runs far and deep and wide that you can never escape it." That day I was going through pain and God covered me in his love and grace. And yesterday/today I was going through pain and God again covered me in His love and grace. His love never fails. Never gives up. Never runs out on me. I'll pour my heart out on this, because I want people to see that God loves the worst of these. that God is mighty and forgiving and that in my mistakes He makes me grow, makes me learn and teaches me more about Himself. Yeah the regret is still there, but God and I are working on that. I'm learning, and God knows, I am a slow learner. But He is the best teacher.
Sitting in His arms, Learning His love, and letting go of regret,
HIS and yours,
"No, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERERS through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angles nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:37-38.