Monday, February 22, 2016

You Know That Feeling...

You know that feeling where you get all tight in the chest, your heart decides it wants to run a marathon all of a sudden and your head feels kind of fuzzy like you just woke up? It’s what you feel just before you step onto the stage in front of a hundred people. It’s what takes your breath away and makes your body go hot all over as you begin to speak the words “I love you” to someone you’re not certain will love you back. It’s the feeling that goes along with the scary thought, ‘I don’t know if I can do this’. 
It can be described as ‘nervousness’ or ‘uncertainty’, maybe ‘insecurity’ or even ‘excitement’. 

But could it be that these are all synonyms and symptoms of ‘mistrust’ and ‘unbelief’?

This was the feeling I got last week when I received an email from my boss. My chest tightened up and I found my head buried in my arms after my brain kind of came out of that ‘oh my gosh what am I going to do’ fuzz.

Hey, let me tell you all right now that it was some pretty great news. I mean come on, a promotion (of sorts). Awesome news.

Then why was my face buried in my arms, groans emanating from the very bottom of my soul (and yes. I was feeling a tad dramatic at that moment)?

Well, that’s an easy answer.

I was scared.

Because for some reason, when you get a promotion you are expected to take on a whole lot more responsibility! Who’s ever heard of that concept? (Ok, there really needs to be a font for sarcasm. Come on smart people)

To be completely honest, I was totally expecting to walk into this job knowing almost exactly what I’d be doing. For once, I was ready to not be the ‘newbie’ on the job. I was ready to go do this job and finally not be questioning myself every day wondering if I was doing what I was supposed to be doing… and doing it right. I was ready to feel like I wasn’t failing every time I tried to do something that was required of me, because at least now I know what I’m getting into.


Now, I know all the right answers. I know that it’s my silly pride that tells me “you can at least look like you know what you’re doing!”. I know that I’m expressing my unbelief when I express my fear of failure. I know that God works through a weakened vessel. I know I know I know. 

But that’s head knowledge. Right now, my heart is simply screaming,

DON’T DO IT, you won’t do anything right.
DON’T DO IT, you won’t make an impact.
DON’T DO IT, you’ll be too stressed, too tired to be any fun.

Basically, don’t do it.

You’ll fail.

That’s what it is. I’m scared, because I don’t want to fail. I think I can do everything that’s required of me, I think I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength. But that’s the thing. I think I can.

But I don’t know I can.

And you know what- that’s ok right now. I’m human, and I’m not ashamed of it. I sprawl out on the carpet in dismay like the rest of you (or maybe it’s just me). I bury my face in my hands and my chest tightens up and I am nervous like h-e-double toothpick like every other person in this world is at one point in time or another.

But what it really comes down to is this: Do I believe what I say I believe?

Do I believe that God will give me strength and use me where I don’t have any left? Do I really believe that God will work through this broken, weak, fearful vessel and touch others no matter what I do right or wrong? 

Do I truly trust that God has a reason for placing me in this position? Do I trust Him?

At this point, I’ve written so many sentences and deleted them because they reveal how much I don’t trust Jesus. Right now, I don’t believe that He is so big and so great that He could do a miracle through me. That’s why I’m so scared. 

I have a bad case of mistrust and unbelief. 

You know what- I hope that instead of fear being the reason my breathing speeds up a little and my heart tries to run laps around my stomach, I hope it’s excitement. You know, the nervous kind of excitement that looks a little like expectation. I hope I can look forward to this job and instead of dreading it, look for ways God is going to show up. 

Especially in my weaknesses.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A New Normal

Whenever someone moves, things are different.  Somehow you have to find a way to adjust to a new community and a new way of life.  But when you move from a small missionary community in rural Africa to a big city in Canada, it’s a little more drastic.  This happened to me about seven months ago.  I’ve received a number of comments from people since I’ve come back.  Questions like “Are you happy to be back?” or comments like “That must have been such a great experience!”  To be completely honest, my life in Uganda was not an experience.  It was quite simply…well…life.  To me, it was completely normal.  It was normal to have people in and out of my house every day.  It was normal to know all of my neighbours.  It was normal to hear a different language being spoken all around me.  It was normal to go to three-hour church services where everything was translated.  It was normal to walk everywhere I went.  It was normal to have water fights on Christmas day.  It was even normal to be stared at because I looked completely different from the people around me.  But it was definitely different from my life in Canada.  And when we moved back seven months ago, that became very clear to me.  Suddenly I realized that all the things that had been normal to me seemed strange and exotic to all the people around me.  No one thought of coming to the house to ask for a cup of flour when they ran out.  No one stopped to ask me how I was doing as I walked to the mailbox.  The majority of people spoke English.  Church services had barely started before they were finished. And no one shouted “Muzungu!” at me as I walked into the grocery store.  Strange… But in the past seven months I’ve learned that these things take time.  And although it can be difficult, eventually a new normal develops.  Normal means putting on a coat before I go outside.  Normal means hot water and school in the basement and playing piano.  Normal means driving to friends’ houses and choosing between 20 different brands of six different varieties of butter.  Normal means planning activities and singing English songs at church.  Normal means fast internet and electricity all the time. (Amazing!) While all these things have become normal to me now, I still miss the old normal every day.  I miss chatting with little kids in Luganda.  I miss having a friend come for a surprise visit.  I miss the warm weather and the number of times I’m saying, “I’m fine and how are you?” But for now, I’m still learning to be satisfied with the “new normal” and I keep trying to find it every day.