Further Than I've Been Before…
Stepping into an unknown area of the world has been one of the scariest things I've ever done. Leaving my comfy queen-sized bed for a cramped window seat on three different planes to make a total of a 13 hour journey to the beautiful hills of Haiti brings me face-to-face with the real world. Honestly, it has been so worth it, every cramped second I wouldn't have changed. Being so unconnected to the outside world has allowed me to open my eyes to what God has pushed me to do this week and where I know I need to improve. The last three days have been filled with amazing devotional times and it’s these times where there have been many things that have stuck out and been heavy on my heart.
The first thing - Stepping out.
Putting comfort zones behind me and seeing a new person or experience in my horizon. I don’t know about you, but it’s comfy in my comfort zone, I don't like to leave it. I like to be somewhere I have full control and capability over anything and everything that happens. So, why do I need to step out? Surely, someone else will? That’s what I was thinking four weeks ago sitting at a cafeteria bench watching a boy no older than me sit alone in a crowd of people. His eyes were focused on the pages of a book resting before him with only an occasional glance around. From afar you could see his tired and scared eyes; I knew that I wanted to go step out from my friends and my comfort zone and sit with him. I went back and forth with going and reaching out; it came down to me being too scared of what my friends might think of me and what the people around him would say about me. Then one day his eyes seemed more tired and scared than usual. I made my way across the long cafeteria to a seat across from his. When I sat down his brown eyes were even more tired than seen from a distance. I started the conversation and we grew from there. Another day at lunch we were talking and I asked, “How's life at home?” just trying to move the conversation forward. He grew quiet and shy. He suddenly became the boy I saw all the way on the other side of the room. I was about to change the subject when, in a quiet shy voice, he replied, “Not good.” He later explained to me that his dad had taken his life around the start of school and that in the weeks after that his mom hadn't been home everyday. He added that she was gone more than she was home with her three kids. He told me that he was trying to take care of his two younger brothers who didn't know what was going on. That day in school it hit me hard, the entire time I was afraid to step out because of what people would think. This kid was living my fears. On top of all the bullying he had at school, he had to go home to deal with an even more undesirable situation. I learned that it only takes one person to step out and give someone an outlet to talk and to feel cared for. We cannot wait for someone else to step out.
The second thing - Forgiveness.
It didn't hit me till tonight how much work I need to do in that department. Sitting on the balcony of our guest building on the orphanage grounds on a cool rainy night, I realized that I was holding onto every mean and hurtful thing that someone has done to me. In the midst of this mind- opening experience, I was walked through the process of asking forgiveness for myself and the strength to forgive those who had hurt me. There was a song that had been playing when this happened - Prince of Peace, by United. This song showed me that God will meet me where I'm at with my struggle to forgive. With help, I bowed my head and prayed forgiveness for all my trespasses, then for the strength to forgive others of their trespasses. The verse that stands out is… “for if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others of their trespasses, your heavenly Father will not forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15. Forgiveness isn't one-sided. I had to forgive those in my past for my past to be forgiven. Only then did total peace wash over me as if the stress and anger had been revoked.
HAITI! The kids at the orphanage are so genuine in love - they love to their fullest ability. This interaction made me think how I could love like that. Then it became clear on that balcony. Once again, I needed to forgive people and let go of the anger I was holding onto. This week has been a week for stepping further than I've been before, all because of a group of children whose hearts are so pure and genuine that it's impossible not to fall in love with them. All the smiles. All the laughter…