Monday, April 16, 2012

To the Girl Who is Not Perfect (I guess that would be me):

Growing pains.... That's the only way I really know how to describe this week. Stretching, bending, pulling, aching.... painful.

I hate growing pains.

But I need them.

This culture is not familiar, and sometimes I feel like a giant trapped in a very small container with no room to move and struggling to breathe. These people are not familiar. They are different. Even the ones who share the same skin tone as I... I am realizing that we are all different.

Different places, stories, backgrounds, cultures, values.

I want to be in the familiar... with people who have known me since birth, love me despite my flaws, encourage me in my walk with Christ, understand my personality quirks.

Isn't that every human being's deepest desire? To be loved, accepted, understood?

I am learning that what works in my culture may not necessarily work here. I am learning that my tone of voice, my mannerisms, my thoughts, my facial expressions carry more weight than I ever imagined they could. I am navigating through new aspects of my personality I never knew I had... and how in the world do they fit here?

Unfortunately, this learning involves a lot of failing. A LOT of failing, and for the girl who has always tried to be perfect, quite frankly, it sucks.

I hate disappointing people, disappointing myself, failing to "get it", failing to get better.

To be honest, the girl who has always tried to be perfect has had her confidence shot.

And maybe, that's a good thing.

Because for three months, I have been navigating my new culture through my own human strength, my own wisdom, my own intuition.

But my own human wisdom is nothing but sinking sand, and when you build everything on sinking sand, it's bound to fall apart.

And it took falling apart to realize that I am trying to do this on my own, and I just can't.

Because the girl who always wants to be perfect just isn't, and she never will be.

Only He is perfect. Only He is my strength. Only He is the giver of wisdom and grace.

I am learning that sometimes, in His grace, He allows things to fall apart. I am grateful that in this circumstance, He allowed my confidence to shatter and break because I desperately need Him. Without it, I never would have realized how much I needed to change.

I never would have experienced the growing pains.

And now, my heart is growing up. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

For the Moments when your soul is dead...

     Easter... for me it has always meant shopping for the perfect dress, egg hunts, baskets with goodies, and endless rehearsals and critiques to get the musical just right. It meant family coming in for the weekend, Jackie Bagget's fried fish, and most of the men in the church suddenly growing beards.

     That was America.

      Easter this year is different.

      Driving through Manila on Good Friday, the place feels like a ghost town. Shops are closed, cars are absent, streets deserted. Manila on Good Friday is dead.

      Because here, God is dead.

      Last night, they walked all night, from one part of the city to the other to kiss a rosary.

      This morning, throughout the country, men carried crosses and beat themselves with whips to reenact His crucifixion and death.

      God dies on Friday.

       And my body feels heavy with the weight of such a day. There is no wind, the sun is oppressive, and my body just wants to curl in a ball in the corner and sleep.

        It's almost as if my soul believes it.... even though I know it is not true. My God is not dead. But my soul joins in their mourning, their lament, their pain.

       I want to scream as they carry their crosses, "You don't have to do this!"

       And I breathe thanks that God gave me the grace to know my salvation was not one that had to be earned. It was bought, bled for, died for. Yes, the cross is necessary. It's crucial. It's imperative.

       But the Resurrection is everything.

       With the Resurrection came power of death, freedom from chains.

        Because of the Resurrection, the man slowly dying on the first floor has hope for life, and his family knows death is not a goodbye forever.

       Because of the Resurrection, I will see my Lucy again, and any other dear child who will be called home before me.

       Because of the Resurrection... the little ones I love will not have suffered in vain, the sin that threatens to entangle me is conquered, there is hope beyond the present sufferings of this world.

       I listened to nine little girls outside my window, practicing their dance to "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin... they had no music, but they sang the words:

                           "I will rise, when He calls my name. No more sorrow. No more pain.
                             I will rise, on eagle's wings. Before my God, fall on my knees, and rise..."

       Nine little girls with their own horror stories, their own heartaches, burdens and fears. Nine little girls who may not have a clue what those words mean right now, but He is planting it in their hearts, writing His name and sealing His hope.

        All because of the Resurrection... they can sing, they can dance, they have life.

        Oh, He is not dead... Dear world groaning and aching, my God is not dead. He is not made of stone or clay or human hands. He is not appeased with sacrifices, penances, suicides and chants.

         And I can no longer allow my soul to be comfortable in a decaying apathy while those around me stumble in darkness.

         "Sunday is coming", we would whisper to each other, in anticipation of Easter Sunday when we would celebrate.

         Sunday has come. The Resurrection bringing eternal salvation. Hope and freedom.

         "Jesus has overcome, and the grave is overwhelmed. The victory is won. He is risen from the dead."

         Wake up my soul... He is alive. He is life.