Speaking Through a Memory
Being on the mission field has made me experience emotions that I have never felt before. I am sure you have been able to tell from my past blogs, that my mind is always moving. Some days are great, and some days are hard. One of the feelings I experience here in Uganda is one that I least expected. It's the feeling of regret. Its feeling like I should have done more and that my Lord is not happy with me.
I think it is important for everyone at some point in their lives to experience the fear of God, (Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. Proverbs 28:14). I think it is important to have that experience, and it be so real that you are able to remember the fear later on. However, I do not believe God wants us to live in constant fear. When we first moved here, I had an experience that put this fear of God in me. The thought of seeing God on judgment day began to freak me out. I hadn't thought about judgement day much before, but when I did, it did not worry me much. One night, Eric and I were casually discussing it, when the meaning actually hit me. What if I don't do enough? What if I haven't given God my whole heart? What if he is dissapointed in me? The true, deep fear only lasted around an hour. I didn't realize that it had actually stuck with me until three months later. I found that every time I prayed I started off by apologizing. I always asked God to give me more to do, because I never felt like he was happy with me.
As time went on, I would get scared to pray. I was scared that he might be upset with me. Yes, I had moved to Uganda and been helping people, but there were still so many people I had not helped. How am I suppose to change the world one person at a time? Missionaries have been coming to Africa for years, and the people still live in poverty. How am I suppose to fix everything in one year?
I started reading the book, Kisses from Katie, that our friends, Emily and Corbin (shout out!) gave to us right before we left. For those of you who have never heard of the book, here is a short summary. Katie was 19 years old, and decided to move to Uganda for a year. By the end of the year, she had adopted 8 girls by herself. She also started a non-profit organization which fed and provided school fees for 140 children. (I have not finished the book yet, so you just get a summary of half the book). I tried reading this book when I first got to Uganda, but it was too hard for me. It made me feel so small and that I was doing nothing here. I started reading it again this week, and it has been less hard to get through.
One night I read a chapter before I went to sleep, and kept thinking about how many people she has helped here in Uganda. I kept comparing myself to her. I began to pray, and my prayer went something like this:
"God, I am sorry that I don't feed 140 kids everyday. I am sorry that I don't pay for 140 kids school fees. I am sorry that, even as a married couple, we have not adopted an orphaned child."
Then, something very unexpected happened. A memory I didn't know I had popped into my head. When I was a kid, we always ate dinner around our kitchen table as a family. We always sat in the same seats, and would always wait for my dad to get home before we would eat (unless it was football season. We weren't waiting until 10:00 pm!). Dinner was always full of laughing, stories, and fun. One daily dinner conversation was my dad asking how our day was. He always followed this up by asking what we did to help someone else that day or to make someone's day better. As a kid, this was a silly question to me. I hated answering, because most of the days I didn't do anything to help someone. I would have to grasp for the silliest little thing to say. Most conversations went something like this:
Dad: What did you do today that made someone's day better?
Me: Ummmm, I dont know. Nothing, I guess.
Dad: Come on, I know you did something for someone else.
Me: No, I really cant think of anything.
Dad: You're telling me that you did nothing for anyone else today?
Me: I guess I let the girl next to me in class have my pencil.
Dad: AWESOME! I knew you had to make someones day better!
Some days were easier than others. I might have an answer like, "I stood up for someone who was getting made fun of", or " I sat next to a kid a lunch who was alone". For the most part though, it was little things like giving someone a pencil. At the time, I thought I was in trouble. I thought my dad might be disappointed if I hadn't done something. I didn't understand why he was asking me that question, but he did almost everyday.
When those memories came to me, I continued with my prayer; "God, I'm sorry...." Then all of a sudden I heard God.
Me: God, I'm sorry I don't feed 140 kids everyday.
God: But, you fed 70 people last week
.Me: God, I'm sorry I don't pay for 140 kid's school fees.
God: But, you paid for three this month.
Me: God, I'm sorry I haven't adopted a child.
God: But, you welcome children into your lives, and allow them to have a safe place to come everyday.
All of a sudden, I saw the connection! When my dad asked me that question everyday, it wasn't to make me feel bad about not doing more. It was to make me see myself the way my dad saw me. My dad knew that I couldn't go a whole day without doing something for someone else. It wasn't because I was the" Mother Teresa" of my elementary school, but because he knew my heart. He didn't care how monumental my impact was, he just wanted me to be aware that I could make a difference. That I was making a difference, and that he believed I could make a difference.
That's all God wants. He wants us to make an impact, but he never said how big the impact had to be. God wants us to see ourselves the way he sees us. He put us on the earth to make a difference. Therefore, we are all capable of making a difference. God sees the good in all of us, just like my dad saw the good in me. As long as I continue to obey God, then there is no reason I should live in fear of disappointing Him.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.