I recently sat across from a friend at coffee and she read me the following quote from a book she was reading:
"I am pretty good at knowing and analyzing my strengths and weaknesses; but I keep the latter private…Self-examination is tough and worse when your family and friends join in. I am so glad that 360-degree evaluations came into vogue long after I stopped being evaluated. During the process, your ego is vulnerable, your self-respect challenged, your decisions questioned, and your fallibility made manifest. Still, such examination is essential to improving yourself, getting in better touch with the people in your life, facing your demons, and moving on. Looking deeply into a mirror and seeing an accurate reflection is therapeutic and healthy."
She brought up the idea of us self-evaluating the past year with each other. To talk about our strengths and weaknesses. As scary as the idea is, I believe it would not only bring our friendship closer together but allow us to look at the past year and celebrate the things God did, learn from the mistakes that were made and remember the things that were taught, whether they were difficult lessons or easy ones.
It's been a few days since that conversation and this evening I found myself overwhelmed as I thought about the current place of my life that I find myself in. Now I won't go into full detail here, but this is where I leave myself and ego completely vulnerable and open. So I ask of your grace and patience and understanding as you read...
As I sat in the Christmas Eve Eve service tonight, the Pastor discussed how for some of us Christmas is a great time because we come home for the holidays. However, for some of us coming home is difficult.
For me, coming home is difficult because it is filled with a lot of judgment.
My parent desire the best for me and want me to be successful by monetary gain, they see some of their investment in my college education as a waste, and are constantly belittling my work and involvement in the church. They especially are unhappy with where I have found a new place to call “home”.
This year, I found a new home for three months...a home in another country. I spent three months living in Haiti. But let me back track... at the beginning of this year I was just celebrating my one year anniversary with a job that I loved. A job in ministry, but my enjoyment quickly ended as I was told that I had such heart and talent for ministry in outreach and youth, but that the church couldn’t afford to keep me doing those things. I was told that I fit in with the culture and people, but they needed me to focus on other things and then things weren't going to work out. I was taken aback and caught off guard... another break up and ending. I had my first real dating relationship, which ended as quickly as it started this year and lost my grandfather. Each time something happen this year, deep within my soul and spirit I knew that God was preparing me for something and I knew that He had to have something else in store. I have been amazed how He has continued to wake me up, literally and emotionally.
If you’ve read my blogs before, maybe you remember my post about literally being woken up in the middle of the night with words inspired from His Word.
He is pleased with me is something that has rung so true for me this year:
“By this I know that You are pleased with me,
Because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.” -Psalm 41:11
Even reading that again, I find myself feeling at peace. As my job was ending, I was given a three-month transitional position. Two weeks into that I rejected it because I felt convicted to go back to Haiti. I prayed and prayed and felt the Lord reveal returning back to Haiti for two weeks was the right choice. I was yet again amazed and thankful for the way that the Lord provided. I raised $2,500 in less than a month and some extra to help with expenses with travelling and supplies. While there I did a photography project, which led me back to Haiti again. Twice in one year, talk about God’s divine appointment. I raised the money for that as well.
I was awakened to the realization that the closer and closer that I grow to God and the more at center within His will, the further I move away from my family. In reality though, as I grow closer to Jesus it allows me to be more patient and kind and loving towards them. It teaches me to show them more grace. I do not always win the battle of love, grace and patience with my family. I often fail as mud starts being slung and my defense is to get defense before I can be attacked. Going to Haiti was difficult not because I didn’t want to go but that it caused a huge distance from my family. My eyes were opened so wide to the ways that God provided, but then also the difficulties of being a missionary. I went to Haiti with expectations to be led and guided in so many ways of faith, leadership, and spiritual discernment and found myself clinging to who God is in so many ways. I started reading the Word and journaling every day.
I just finished a whole journal filled with God’s word and the things that I have been taught and learning. I have learned on a new and deeper level to cling to God and I find myself doing that more than ever. This year has been the most difficult emotionally, but the best spiritually. I literally have to rely on God to feed me and provide for me every day and as difficult as it is to have “nothing”, no income, no close family to rely on, I find myself more and more in love with my Father of heaven. I cannot tell you how many meals and cups of coffee have been provided for me as I tirelessly have volunteered at my church. How the Lord has provided me with photo shoots, house sitting, and baking sales. As my family goes through financial difficulties of their own and relational issues, I am so thankful for the friends that God has given me. A church family that encourage me on the daily. Girlfriends that are so amazing and such examples of wisdom, discernment, and God’s strength. God has continued to develop me into a better woman, and eventual wife and mother while I am becoming who I am supposed to be, for who He has for me. God allowed my love to grow as I have grieved loss of family and then children in Haiti, but even stretched as I learned to love those around me, especially the children in Haiti despite a language barrier.
Not every lesson I’ve learned has been easy, not every relationship has grown through stretching, while others were strengthened. I am literally trusting in God’s will and plan, I don’t have any idea what He has in store but I trust. I have been open to the idea of working in corporate arena, I know that I want to pour and invest in ministry in the long term. I’ve learned how words and little white lies can hurt ourselves, each other and our relationships. I’ve learned the ways of the sluggard through my own experiences and through living and working with others. I’ve learned how quickly we are to judge and make decisions not based on God’s counsel or wisdom, but based on emotional reaction, it’s amazing how quickly we move into action without processing what would Jesus do.
And lastly, I learned the depth of my life verse so much more.
“Little children, let us love not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” -1 John 3:18
Our love means nothing if it isn’t shown through our actions. Our words can only hold so much weight, but it is our actions that back them up. I learned in Haiti, that I can tell a child I love them, but that means nothing unless I show them. And show them through patience and grace, the way I help to provide for their basic needs of food, water, clothing, and housing. Look at what Jesus did: God showed His love for us by sacrificing His Son. Had God not shown such love, would we really have seen and known the depth of His love? Jesus took all of our sins, those He knew, those that were strangers, and those that are yet to know Him. His love provided for us, His love wasn’t simply embodied in Word but in action.
As I close on this reflection, I pray that my words would speak volumes of God’s words through my actions on a continual basis.
It has been a struggle of a year as so many things didn’t go according to plan, but God’s plan so far has been so much better as my relationship with Him has reached new depths and heights. As difficult as this year was, I am thankful.
Here is a video to show my year in review:
Lastly, here are some prayer requests that I would ask you to lift up:
-Pray for my relationship with God to reach new depth, depth in understanding, patience, and love.
-Prayer that you would grow in Him and be an example to others.
-Prayer for mending of my family relationships and to extend grace and love even when it hurts despite what’s said or how I’m treated.
-Prayer for my future and God’s direction.
Thank you for you love and for reading some of my innermost thoughts and feelings. I hope that this has allowed you to trust more on God, understand me better, or desire to pray for me more.