Today was “paperwork day” as I like to call it. The day of the week where three of my children are at school and the littlest is at part-time daycare so I can soak in the quietness of an empty office. My anxious fingers click the keys as I push my way through new responsibilities, relishing in a world of multitasking across spreadsheets and email, phone calls and filing – stopping only for brief power pick-me-ups of writing a bit of a blog post here and checking a Facebook status there.
Truth is, I’m finding my groove again since coming back from Kenya.
But I’ve had a lot of questions from the masses. Everyone wants to know about the trip. As they should – I had a TON of great supporters and it was promised I’d write all the details. However, I’ve had a hard time wrapping myself around these two very different worlds. In all honesty, I never expected to come back from Kenya…angry.
I shed a lot of tears over there in private. Tears for poverty. Tears for oppression. Tears of happiness over these two American and Kenyan families who care so deeply for these girls and want to genuinely change lives.
I cried over a gift given by my Compassion child’s mother as she gave me a tender, tear filled smile. I cried at the desperate feeling in the pit of my stomach when I woke each day to the Islamic call to prayer.
I cried because I missed my family.
I even cried because I could eat the wheat over there with no apparent side effects. (I wish I was kidding…)
…but I never cried in public. And I never made sense of my anger until I returned home.
As a blogger, I’ve been taught from the beginning that overuse of words will whither my online space before it’s even had a chance to bloom. That I should convey as much of the story as I can in as few words as possible.
For Kenya, that’s tough. Because the way I’m processing this experience sounds an awful lot like internal rambling.
How does one convey internal rambling? Unless you have a better idea, external rambling is how I’d be inclined to answer. But let me see if I can sum it up in fewer words for you…
When I returned home it didn’t take long to catch up on Facebook with all of the world’s most controversial news. Oh, there were bits and pieces of hope, joy, redemption and new life, but most of what I read sent blood rushing to my cheeks. Violence and further oppression. “Christians” slandering everyone under the sun for some sin or another. I saw division among my own people, half applauding a woman as a hero for refusing a marriage license, half condemning her to shame.
I read more and more about people having to flee their homes or face an ISIS death.
And sometimes I just have to wonder if we really know what’s going on? Or do we latch onto the popular side of social media and raise our voices high enough to be heard over the rest of the noise?
If we don’t know the world we can’t love the world. If we don’t engage ourselves and stop being afraid to cross cultures – to grab the hands of a different color or hug the neck of someone with a different belief – how can we preach gospel, demonstrate love and make disciples?
I’ve read the story of the Good Samaritan several times over since I returned and do you now know what stands out to me the most? When the Samaritan has to leave the beaten man with the inn keeper he gives him coins to continue his care. But these words “Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
The Samaritan intended to return. He didn’t just drop coins off and say “see ya!” – he had every intention of coming back to make sure nothing else was needed. His intentions were to follow through.
Are we a nation of no follow-through? Could it be that we are attention seekers, at best, who like to throw money over the fence for our tax deductions and instant gratification? We send stained, second hand clothing that brings their textile industry to its knees and dig wells that we don’t teach them how to maintain and then we walk away – looking for another check to write as we sit back behind the screens of our computers shouting at one another in arguments that will never be won outside of His kingdom.
Sadly, we can all be about a deed well done without actually getting our hands dirty or seeking out a true resolution.
In all honesty, I’m still working through this. Africa taught me things about myself that I didn’t anticipate and I certainly can’t sum it up in a few posts even if I wanted to. It’s not my intent to spit nastiness all over the page and I promise you I’m not sitting here wallowing in self-pity or condemning us all to Hell.
And I’m not unhappy. I still get up each morning smiling, even when a 2 year old climbs into bed an hour prior to the alarm and spends that time kicking me in the kidneys. I throw on my clothes and make my kids breakfast. We figure out lunch together as I pack the healthiest things I can get them to eat and read the scripture of the day using my life as a testimony to whatever topic that might be. I plan dinner and open up the bills and heat some water for tea, praising God all the while for the thousand gifts that otherwise go unnoticed without a vested pair of eyes.
Yet I won’t lie. There are days I wake up thanking Him for exposing me to this. For finally letting my hands touch the dirt, my nose to smell the scents and my ears to hear the sounds of this unfamiliar place that captured my heart years ago. And other days I wake up and want to remove it all from my heart and mind because this new perspective is unfamiliar and, sometimes, disconcerting.
This fairy tale world we tend to walk around in is so easy to get lost in, isn’t it? The enemy wants to keep our minds at that address while he steals, kills and destroys the rest behind our distracted, naive backs.
It only takes one eager individual full of compassion to make a change. I encourage you, before you head into the rest of your plans for the day, to say these words to yourself:
“If I don’t like what I see, the change has to start with me.”
Linking up this week with:
Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory
Holley Gerth and Coffee For Your Heart
Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday
Holly S. Barrett for Testimony Tuesday
Lovely. Truly inspiring transparency, your neighbor visiting from @ Holley Gerth this week. Feel free to visit back anytime
Thank you, Shandra! I will visit your place.
Jennifer, thank you for sharing your heart. I cannot even imagine what Kenya was like. I am thankful that you are being honest and sharing what is on your heart. I love these last lines: “This fairy tale world we tend to walk around in is so easy to get lost in, isn’t it? The enemy wants to keep our minds at that address while he steals, kills and destroys the rest behind our distracted, naive backs. It only takes one eager individual full of compassion to make a change. I encourage you, before you head into the rest of your plans for the day, to say these words to yourself: ‘If I don’t like what I see, the change has to start with me.’” So much truth to those word. Made me think of the words “Be the change you wish to make in the world!” I want my life to make a difference, but sometimes that can be so very hard cant it! Blessed to be your neighbor at Coffee for Your Heart today!
It is so very hard. I have made it all about me for so long – just even in the sense of not wanting to share or be noticed. If I do nothing that draws attention I won’t ever disappoint everyone. If I lower expectations in the beginning, I’m safe. How wrong I’ve been all this time.
Linking up next to you at RaRalinkup. This was very thought provoking! Thank you! 🙂
Thank you, Krista!
I think the real worry would be if you had returned unchanged or unscathed. The fact that you’re angry, just tells me that you hate what God hates. And that you were able to love on those that God placed in front of you. I wonder what those hearts would say about the mark you made. I have no doubt you made one. You were brave to go, and braver still to not let the effects pass you by…even the wheat!!! Love you, friend. As always, thanks for sharing honest words. xo
*big hugs* Thank you, Tiffany!
Sharing what you see and feel from the inside-out is real..the real you! You make a difference today in my life for my life can look ho-hum and I can exasperated with our political system, the horrors of war, the way people treat and don’t treat people, and on and on. But I can open my eyes and look at what I see and do my best to be the image of Christ before those I come into contact with, those I email, those I call. …and let it begin with me!
Thank you, Jennifer, for being you,
Thank you! That was very kind. So often I write “me” and then I have to second guess myself once it’s out there. I’m sure that’s the enemy trying to keep me from sharing my heart…
I. Get. This. Nearly every word of this resonated with me because of my mission trip to Guatemala this summer. I cried the at dinner after our first day of work – the poverty, what God was already exposing in me, missing my son, helping my daughter process what she saw … and that was all just the first day. I cried less as the week went on, but I’m still processing it and I think I will be for a long time. My experience has become a filter for pretty much EVERYTHING else. I’m so glad you’re sharing your heart as your process. And I’m always glad when you link up at #ThreeWordWednesday.
I’d love to talk to you sometime about Guatemala. I just joined the missions committee at my church and I have some ideas about taking a missions team there!
Jennifer, thanks so much for writing this! So hopeful (though sad/ultra troubling/prophetic) to read: ““Christians” slandering everyone under the sun for some sin or another.” Indeed, something is amiss… I don’t see anyone crying out against mean thoughts, mean words, greed…. But I do see fellow human beings being persecuted and killed for their beliefs, for their identity (something Christians should relate to) I see “Christians” protesting at funerals of kids who were beaten and killed because they were gay. What’s happening? When did the free gift of Grace become a condition-worksbased arrangement? I’ve been guilty myself…I stood in the way of the Door with my bible when a dear friend was trying to enter but had two moms… When will we treat others as we want to be treated? I don’t even like when my husband complains about the way I do dishes. Human beings deserve so much respect and love–we are God’s Offspring for goodness sake! (Acts 17: 28,29). If righteousness came from the law, then Christ died in vain..(Gal 2:21) If there is one law we should strive to follow, it’s the royal law noted in James 2:8 (treat others as you want to be treated…). Thanks for picking up so much from the story of the Good Samaritan.
When in doubt we recall: “As much as you did for the least of these, you did it for Me”
Love to you from Holland (been living here for the past 12 years),
Thank you for your kind words, Jasmine. I so appreciate you visiting the blog today. (and just a teensy bit jealous of you living in Holland!) 😉
Hey Dear Jennifer, thanks for your response, and please don’t be jealous! I think we are all like Esthers and God is using whoever is willing (since I don’t believe His is about forcing anyone) wherever they are. ps–blessings with your mission plans, just saw up in one of the comments
pps-if you ever come to the Netherlands, let me know!
With love and praying Grace and Love dripping from your hands as you type, but most importantly as you love your little ones,
Praying that you may continue to assimilate all the experiences in Kenya. May the comparison of two cultures teach you the truths about each. May you find guidance as to what to say and what to do next. May your heart be tender when needed and righteously angry when needed, and may you be wise enough to know the difference.
your neighbor at Testimony Tuesday
Thanks for your work of kindness in mercy. I learned that ministering God’s love to the disadvantaged does not only bring hope to the suffering, but transformation to the provider. A smile given to the troubled changes the one who is smiling just as it changes the one who is in pain. God bless you abundantly.
Wow, very intensely thought provoking. I hope I never forget your words when an opportunity to make a positive change arises. Thank you for the eye opener about sending our worst clothes oversees; I’ve never even thought about how that could be a negative thing. Thanks for sharing what you’ve observed.