Wednesday, August 25, 2010
When Heaven Speaks Through a Little Girl
It feels like it was a million years ago in another life...possibly a different planet...when a hunger for simplicity and less materialism made it's way into my soul.
In actuality it was only about eight months ago in the United States...a place so hard to believe exists from where I'm sitting right now.
We purged. We cleaned out. We tidied up and made piles and piles of "why did we ever think it was a good idea to buy this?"
We had a daddy garage sale and then some baby ones.
Shortly after our chart topper garage sale and the following garage sale remixes we found out we were moving to Haiti.
Selling our beautiful home in our perfect neighborhood...a neighborhood filled with doctors, lawyers, college professors, and an active, often-times nazi-ish home owner's association was very rough on me.
I wrote a lot as I was packing up our belongings...the things I loved and adored. I wrote and wrote about how obvious it was that I had an unhealthy affection for items made of wood and earth and brick. I sat in front of my computer, my face an ugly, mascara-less mess as I tried to put words to my emotions.
Sadness as I put batman costumes and my favorite wooden coke crates into boxes...unsure when I'd ever see them again. Sadness as I held my things and cried into the carpet of one of the boy's rooms upstairs admitting to God that I was the rich young ruler. I could not let go of this world and follow Jesus. Sad that I was having such a hard time trusting the Lord and living as though I believe the things I claim to believe.
Shame as I admitted how much I love things that will one day be burnt up with fire. Ashamed of the money we had spent to collect things that would never see eternity. Ashamed of how many canisters and knick-nacks I possessed while so many around the world can not even eat everyday or pay for cheap medications to cure themselves or their children.
Thankfulness that God in His sweet mercy was waking us up from what seemed to be a nap that could have rivaled Rip Van Winkle's.
Humility as I came face to face with my greed and love of all things "so me", comfortable, and attractive to the eye. It's strange to cry your way through every box and every room of your house as you pack it up and at the same time wonder how on earth I thought I was ever in the position to judge anyone...ever. I cried and cried about the times when I had judged someone else about something spiritual. I cried and cried about the markers I was using to gauge my own spiritual growth. I cried that this one act...selling my home and packing away everything I loved said so much about my faith and maturity.
It was like owning a mirror at home that made me look thin and beautiful...looking into that mirror and leaving the house, walking around like an in shape, gorgeous specimen. Then one day I walk past a different mirror...an accurate one and realize my mirror was distorted...I actually look like Shrek's wife.
How humbling it is to admit it does not matter how much of the Bible I have read...it does not matter how many classes I have taught...how much I have served the church and God's people...none of it mattered. I was failing the most basic test that Jesus gave the rich young ruler when that young man asked what it took to follow Jesus.
"You want to follow me?" Jesus asks. "Then sell all your stuff and give it to the poor."
Jesus did not ask the man to show Him his church attendance or ask the wealthy young man to define words like justification or sanctification. Jesus didn't ask the man to give money or go buy things for the poor. He asked the rich young ruler to give away
the things that were his...held his memories...were a reflection of who he was...his taste...his preferences...give them away.
Jesus gave a test that I was failing...He wanted to know how attached the rich young ruler was to this earth...to himself...to worthless things that would one day make that rich man's life worth nothing.
I've now been in Haiti for over a week.
Our stuff is still stuck in this weird place called "customs." I hear it's one of the most corrupt parts of this dear country.
I'd like to say that I've handled not having the few things we shipped to Haiti well.
Instead I'll tell the truth...
I have been having an internal sumo-style, sweaty fat fight with Jesus.
I want my stuff...just the few things we shipped. God why? Why can't I have that stuff? It's not even that much junk for six people. I want a few things that are familiar...I want a few memories...I want a few of our favorite foods. Small throw rugs for my all-tile home. God please. This house is so plain and blah. We're thankful for it but it's so not me right now.
There is nothing here that feels like home or me or us. Nothing that feels like familiarity. So God what the heck? What are you wanting me to learn from my stuff sitting in a rat infested warehouse down the road? What?
And then a Haitian girl from one of the girl's homes came over today.
She walked in my front door...stopped for a minute and said..."Your house is so pretty. Your baby has his own room?" She was beaming. Could hardly believe it.
Whistle blew. Wrestling match was over.
Seeing my home through her eyes in that moment did it. In God's ever gentle way of doing everything peace washed over my soul.
"Things" do not make a home. They just don't.
In those moments when I'm tempted to complain or when I flat out go on a complaining streak, God has graciously put me in a place where all I have to do is look over our wall at the way the people are living just feet from me...
Actually I look over the wall and say, "What the heck is wrong with me...I'm an idiot." Then I repent.
If you're like me and find that not being content has made its way into your heart, I wanted to take a second and let God use Haiti to heal something that is broken in each of us...
Isn't God kind, gracious, and good to gently love us that way?
Granite counter tops, more bedrooms, perfect floors or "my stuff stuck in customs" just seem down right silly now, huh?
Thank you Haiti and thank you God who made Haiti and uses it to teach us new lessons every single day.