We’ve been here for 10 years now, and for some reason I’ve felt the need to look back over the things that I wrote when we first arrived here. Throughout all of the my writings, I am finding a common theme.
Who was that?
I don’t think I know that person. She was hyperactive. Exclamation points much? She was all OVER the place. I exhausted myself just reading about all of the things that I was trying to throw myself into. Most of which had nothing to do with my gifts and talents. I am not a women’s ministry person. I don’t like to participate in women’s ministry activities, and I sure as glory don’t like to lead them. So what in heaven’s name made me think I could lead a Bible study? Granted, the Lord shut things down pretty quickly, but I could have saved us all some grief if I hadn’t been so ridiculous.
I was definitely wearing my rose-colored glasses. Now, I am the first person to admit that I can be sarcastic, crabby and cynical–usually all before 9:00 in the morning on a good day. But that person 10 years ago? Her “Oh, everything is WONDERFUL and FUNNY and AMAZING and CUTE and FABULOUS and”…for heaven’s sake. She was just over the top annoying. If I could go back in time I would smack myself. And I’m not sure why some of my missionary friends didn’t smack me.
I now know that we all go through a “honeymoon” phase where nothing bothers us and everything is wonderful…then we hit a wall and everything drives us bonkers and we can’t figure out why in the world we’re here and we blame our husbands for getting us into this mess although we were all gung-ho and ready-to-go and he certainly didn’t drag us here kicking and screaming. Poor guy. I can remember hitting the wall, and it shows in my writing–or lack of it. Things started to slow down, and as I look back, my writing seems much more “forced”. I remember being so afraid that if I wrote what I was really thinking and feeling, people would think I was a horrible person and wonder why in the world I became a missionary in the first place. And since I was already thinking both of those things about myself, the last thing I needed to do was give my feelings validity by admitting them to my friends back home. So I effused all over the paper (computer) and tried to convince myself and everyone else that I had this.
Somewhere, and I’m not exactly sure where in this journey it happened, I started to settle down. Oh, I still get frustrated and blow my testimony sometimes, but then I do that in the US too. I’ve learned that there are things that I simply cannot do. I haven’t tried to lead any more Bible studies, and we’re all very grateful for that, now aren’t we? I am not good at leading or teaching adults. Actually, I’m just not good at being up front. I am very good at the “behind the scenes” stuff. You want to lead a Bible study or a women’s ministry event? I will show up, set up, cook up, clean up and pack up for you. You do all the talking and I’ll do all the rest. Then I will go home and write something up about what you talked about and how the women loved you and what an amazing event it was. I decided a long time ago that my spiritual gift is invisibility.
I love working with children. Little tiny ones, all the way up through high school. When I worked at the Alliance, I loved having all of the little ones come to the library and find their books, and listen to stories…and I loved the middle school and high school students with their sassy personalities and the fun and life that they brought with them. Their parents make me crazy nervous, but I do love the kids. And I love the ones at the daycare and at the After-school program…
I am learning, 10 years in, that it’s OK to have my own strengths, and that they don’t have to be someone else’s strengths. I don’t have to lead women’s events, because there are people here that do that, and are very good at it. I am trying to learn that it’s OK to say what I think, and let people know how I’m really feeling instead of glossing over things and pretending like everything is just rosy. I’m still not very good at it. My need for approval, and my overwhelming fear that if people knew the real me they would run screaming in the other direction, keeps me in a constant state of anxiety.
That me from 10 years ago has grown up a little bit. I think that’s a good thing. And although I probably wouldn’t want to hang out with my 10-years-ago-self, I do appreciate the stories she told and the lessons that she learned. I wonder what my 10-years-from-now-self will think when she looks back at herself?
“I do understand! I understand what they do not, and that is you can only do with what you have. What God has given you. If you try to be anyone else, it is the worst thing that can happen because you cannot ever be them – and then you give up being you”
― Siri Mitchell, A Constant Heart