Saturday, October 05, 2013

Week Two: Contradictions of the Heart

”If I had to summarize in one word my first weeks and months in Uganda, it would be contradiction...My life - especially my emotions - hung in the balance between absolutely loving my new life in Uganda and battling severe loneliness."
~Katie Davis

 I feel the same.  I love this adventure God has me on in Brazil.  I love the smell of the rain, the house-rattling thunder, the lightening that lights up the night sky, the bloom of flowers I've only seen in stores, the red dirt that cakes the bottom of my shoes - and my feet, the sound of exotic birds, the smell of fresh baked bread on my morning walk to work, the chatter of a foreign language and the sound of little children praising God.

All of this brings joy to my heart.  But I have to admit I get lonely.  Yes, I am making wonderful connections with people here and forming new friendships.  But no one knows my past, no one knows what might trigger a memory that will bring tears to my eyes.  And it's hard to attempt to explain it to people so that they understand the complicated connection of it all.  I long to just sit with an old friend, coffee in our hands, and cry (which I don't like doing in the first place!) and have them understand the complicated emotions of it all with little to no explanation needed.

"During my early days here, I was learning so much - everything from how to eat foods I'd never seen before to how to communicate through hand signals and facial expressions with people whose language I did not know.  My horizons were being expanded in the most amazing ways; my perspectives were changing every day; and my faith was being challenged and stretched.  All of this was so exciting to me.  I didn't want to admit that, in the midst of such a wonderful and invigorating experience, I sometimes felt tangible pangs of loneliness when I thought about how many miles away I was from the people I loved."
~Katie Davis

Contradiction of the heart.  Difficult to understand or explain to anyone.  But it's there.  Raw emotion of a life being flipped upside down by God.
"I could praise God with all my joyful heart and then later pour out my heart to Him with frustration and weeping when no one could hear."
~Katie Davis

I am so thankful for this opportunity to be part of a school that is sharing the message of Jesus with children and families from all over the world.  At times it simply feels like I am teaching in the U.S., but then a teacher asks me about how to reach a child in their class who is from Tanzania - and who is still learning English - when I realize that I am not teaching in the U.S.  There are so many underlying factors teaching children from all over the world that I forget to stop and consider it all.  On top of having to learn and study their academics, these kids are also having to learn a new language..sometimes two if they don't speak English, they want desperately to make new friends and fit in without losing who they are and where they come from, and they may long for something of comfort from home.  And it's then that I realize that all the complicated, contradictory emotions I am feeling, these kids go through them too. 
"I thought of how, after a long, hard day in my previous life, I would have crashed on the couch with a pint of ice cream, a good sappy movie, and my closest girlfriends.  Here at the end of a long, hard day, there was nothing to do but cry out to Jesus for the strength to go on."
~Katie Davis

And that's the same for me, and for some of these kiddos here.  When we don't have the strength or energy to keep trying at this new normal for us....we need to turn to the One who understands it all.

 The beauty of crying out to Jesus is that He understands all the complicated, contradictory emotions without a word being spoken.  He knows that I long for comfort, yet desire to be stretched so I can be used by Him.  He knows that I feel inadequate and yet also feel made for this job.  He knows I want to make a difference but don't know how.  He knows the pain of the past that haunts me and how I am challenged each day to lay it down and follow the calling He placed upon my heart.  He knows it weaknesses, my desires, my fears, my hopes - and He keeps reminding me that in all of it...He is my strength, He is my refuge.  And there's no contradiction in that!

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