When I first started blogging within our first years in the D.R., I did so as if I had been set free from something binding and restrictive. Words flowed out like the river when it rises from a torrential down pour, the heavens releasing a baptism from the too-full sky. My thoughts spilled out as I took in and processed everything new, beautiful, not fully understood and incredibly different: a rusty isuzu truck loaded with chickens, hanging meat in a bright blue colmado, an unclothed child joyfully pulling a car made out of a bleach bottle and salvaged wheels of varying sizes by a string, a birthday party where I left before the cake (that is a huge "No-No!", even if the party started 3 hours late!), a person bathing in the canal. By the pressing of my keyboard, I freely and with wild abandon, without much of a filter, and often with little understanding , shared my thoughts and our lives with you here. I was naive, ignorant, unaware, yet all the while enthusiastic, open, vulnerable and transparent.
For several years now, I've been withholding. I've been virtually silent. Somewhere along the way, I grew weary of sharing vulnerably. I became afraid. I also felt convicted about sharing about people and situations and grew to distrust my motives for sharing. Having been in the D.R. for more than a hot minute, I've learned so much in my own walk with the Lord; many beautiful, painful, and life-giving lessons, and yet despite all of that sweet growth, I've been locked up tight the last little bit. I put a fence up in my soul to "save" me from possible criticism, rejection and hurt - to silence my own inner voice that whispers "imposter" and screams "fraud". Those voices have had such great power over me in recent years, but it's time for them to be exposed and silenced. Satan would love nothing more than for me to grow prideful, weary, burned, callused, hardened, numb and apathetic. Locked up. But NO! That's NOT the way that this is going down.
Can I just tell you some things?
I'm not fluent in Spanish, but I'm always working on it. My progress is slow. I "should" be in a different place (she says to herself - because 14 years), but I'm not. May the spirit of the Lord be my voice when I fumble for the right words or grammatical structure. Surely the spirit of God is more powerful than my ability to use ser/estar correctly or to speak in past tense with stem changing words in Book B!
I've struggled with local friendships. Having been burned a few times, I've retreated to a "safe" place. This is wrong. I am confident that I've also, at times, burned others, unintentionally and in ignorance. It's funny that the pattern is to think that THEY did it intentionally, but I did it unintentionally! That double standard in my thinking is no longer lost on me. I see it now. May I offer the same grace to others that I would like to receive.
I've struggled with friendships in general, feeling my age in a rather youthful and transient missionary community, both the number of my years and the number of years we've been here. I long for deeper connection and go through seasons where I pursue others and where I retreat from others. I have several really great friends, though, that I know I can call on and who would come running if needed. I couldn't do life without them. May I be the kind of friend that I would like to have! (Right, Jenn?)
We go to an English speaking church. It is the best decision for our family at this time. That doesn't mean we are any less invested in the local culture or that we lack confidence in the local church. I perceive judgement for this decision frequently. May we hunger for the word of God in any language and be a community of believers that causes others to long to know Him more. If we aren't doing this as individuals and as a church body, our "missions" will be ineffective.
Sometimes I've made an idol out of understanding and being understood. In the core of my gut, I just want to understand and be understood. I have often sought this to my detriment. I'm thankful that several years ago a pastor called me out on this and told me, "Rachel, give up your need to be understood." Those words were like a sucker punch to me, but after a brief conversation, he could see what was in my blindspot - an idol! I had spent so much time, effort, energy, trying to be understood in situations where I fely totally mistunderstood, that I had made an idol out of feeling understood. I had missed serving the Lord fully because of that. I had been so easily distracted by a bright and shiny that I missed the face of the Lord. May I not miss the face of the Lord and be de-railed by own compulsions, but be driven by His Holy Spirit. May the parts of me that aren't of Him be exposed. May any idol be illuminated and crushed, so that I can serve the Lord effectively and love Him whole-heartedly rather I'm effective or not.
Also, in my host culture, which I absolutely adore, there are MANY things that I don't understand, and we're not just talking about language here. Truly, though, in this world, this side of heaven, there will always be things that can't be understood - no matter where we are! I just live with a heightened sense of that because I'm constantly reminded in the backdrop of my life that there are things that I can't understand. That's ok. May I seek to understand, but know that that is not always possible and to trust the Lord in those things.
Without vulnerability, there can't be accountability. Without humility, there can't be teachability. Without forgiveness, there can't be progress. Without grace, there can't be redemption.
I pray that if you are reading this, you would be encouraged, not because of anything I have said, but because the God of the universe loves you and has uniquely crafted you to fulfill a purpose. My story, while clean cut, is not "normal," and that is awesome because it just showcases God's creativity and power. God did not make me to fit in! May we embrace the stories He is writing in our lives, and may we be quick to share HIS faithfulness. May we break the silence when it is fear that has secured it, and not the Lord who has sanctioned it.