I’ve got a lot of words for the last two months, but none that will do them justice. God is big and I am not and that is the most beautiful thing, so we can start there, like a first foot to the pavement on a long run where you want to pace yourself but also may want to run some sprints here and there but also walk a little bit to get your heart rate back to normal.
I miss the rhythms. I miss putting my name tag on every morning, the moments our teammates got to serve one another by getting the coffee or filling up water bottles, the small things. I miss setting up production, offloading pictures and videos, making each other laugh, singing a lot of old songs, getting excited for chicken lasagna, all of it. Do I also miss the moments where God was kind enough to clearly show us His presence and show us the impact the Gospel was having on these communities? Oh man, yes. I’d give everything to have it all back. I miss the simplicity and the deep, belly laughs.
And God’s been really cool to show me that’s not just a Costa Rica thing, and how naive of me it was to compartmentalize that part of God’s character to just camp or a foreign country. I actually get to make the choice to serve the people around me that same way literally every single day. Thanks, God.
These past few days have been a lot of, “Wake up, kid. You’ve got a lot of dreams that aren’t just going to happen unless you do something,” moments. Do I need some time to rest? Gosh, yes, and my biggest mistake is usually not letting myself do that, so I’m trying to be careful. But I’m also trying not to forget that hands-on-a-live-wire feeling. I felt alive every single day we were in Costa Rica, and I don’t know what made it happen, but I’m trying to not forget the rhythms and the abiding and the serving.
Culture shock has been weird, and it’s one of those things that feels stupid for experiencing, so I haven’t had a lot of grace for myself in experiencing it. It’ll just hit when I’m trying to explain a story to someone or I’m missing hearing Spanish all around me or I’m driving through Atlanta or I’m looking at a sushi menu with so. many. options. It’s a lot, and it’s weird to walk through.
So I started processing it piece by piece. That leads me to a little bit I wrote closer to the beginning of this summer.
“Why does Christ want to enter into every part of your life? To judge you? Condemn you? Take from you? No, Paul says the more you’re comfortable with Jesus meeting you in every quiet place, the more by faith he’ll begin to convince you how deeply loved you are.”
I had the chance to sit and listen to a beautiful sermon where Ben Stuart made the comparison of Christ dwelling in us to a friend knowing the comfort of coming into your house and feeling at home. We ought to be able to see Jesus be able to do the same, come in, take his shoes off, check the fridge even though he already knows what’s there. When we leave all of our rooms open for God, darkness doesn’t have the ability to take over parts of the house, of us.
That was a beautiful metaphor I think God knew I needed in this current phase of life. I think about the beauty of gathering and hospitality and the way that we ought to be able to let God dwell in us.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
FULLNESS. That’s what God’s inviting us into when we’re offered a seat at the table. And I know my whole life I’ve tried to muster up my own fullness in my own words and relationships and moments that made me stronger. I think that’s why I can confidently sit here and write to you that I truly only trust myself, and that was not something I was able to reckon with until, well, these past couple weeks. The Lord has made me come undone with these ideas of Truth and Trust. I think subconsciously I held a lot of pride in accepting this job in Costa Rica. I thought, “Of course I trust the Lord. I quit my job, hopped on a plane, and came to a country I’ve never been to in order to do ministry. Now that’s trusting the Lord.”
But if I want to sit here and get really honest with myself, I don’t fully trust anyone but myself. It’s sort of liberating to write that and it’s been even more freeing to say out loud in conversation. I got on that plane because it was more of a, “Well, I don’t truly know what comes next so I’m willing to step out on this ledge because a lot of details came together and I think this is what God has for me so let’s go.” I trust me until I don’t have the information I need to provide answers for myself. And that’s really sobering to admit. That’s not trusting God at all. That’s leaving His will as my last resort. I know that all sounds harsh, so I think you can imagine the processing I’ve gotten to do for the past couple weeks. It’s been thrilling.
I have been trusting God with different parts, for sure, but definitely not the whole thing, which is not what He asks of us. Trusting Him means full surrender, and I’m not in a place where I can say I am truly doing that. I’m a big fan of control, a big supporter of championing your own story and your own healing in your own timing. But how fitting that God would take that to show me more of Himself in my humbling and submitting to Him as I begin to process shame and moments not soaked in grace I didn’t even know were there.
When I envisioned getting on that plane and coming here on my 22nd birthday, I imagined my days would be filled with sharing the gospel and watching beautiful sunsets and a lot of dancing and singing and drinking really dang good coffee. And yeah, God’s been really kind in presenting those kinds of moments. But if I had been in charge of writing the story, it wouldn’t have included days where I couldn’t show myself enough grace or days when anxiety seemed to flood every surface I walked upon or that I would be doing a 180 with my post-grad plans. But how grateful am I that I’m not the one writing my own story.
And that metaphor about Jesus coming into your home to dwell in a place you’ve set out for Him? That requires trust. You don’t just allow strangers to come on in and take their shoes off and open your fridge to check out what ya got going on in there.
So here we are, 6 weeks later, 7 if I think about the fact that we’ve been home for a week now, and it still sucks to wake up not in the same place as our team. I think one of the coolest things God keeps pushing to the front of my mind has been that the same God who walked me through every single day in Costa Rica is the same God who is still going to use me regardless of the location and He’s the same Holy Spirit dwelling in me that He was in all of this past season.
He is with me in the hard conversations and the messy confrontations and the mornings I don’t want to get myself out of bed. He is also with me at the end of really hard but good runs and on long drives and in really sweet dinner conversations and in sending texts and in making coffee every morning to establish routine and normal rhythms. He is with me in the people I’m getting to reconnect with and the excitement of dreams coming into fruition and getting to be on the same soil as my family. He is in it all.
And on the really difficult mornings where I feel a little heavier than normal and my heart hurts at the idea of not being in the same space as our team, I take extra time to make a good cup of coffee and read these words:
23 (1) El Señor es mi pastor;
nada me falta.
2 En verdes praderas me hace descansar,
a las aguas tranquilas me conduce,
3 me da nuevas fuerzas
y me lleva por caminos rectos,
haciendo honor a su nombre.
4 Aunque pase por el más oscuro de los valles,
no temeré peligro alguno,
porque tú, Señor, estás conmigo;
tu vara y tu bastón me inspiran confianza.
5 Me has preparado un banquete
ante los ojos de mis enemigos;
has vertido perfume en mi cabeza,
y has llenado mi copa a rebosar.
6 Tu bondad y tu amor me acompañan
a lo largo de mis días,
y en tu casa, oh Señor, por siempre viviré.