Those days were breathtakingly hard. Tears would soak my bedsheets, my hours spent watching the sun slowly rise and descend, as I longed to escape this land and all its difficulty. To escape this body and all its sickness. I could barely eat much. Sometimes I could barely move. For three long months. My first trimester of my first pregnancy passed slowly, in severe weakness.
I wish that three years later I didn’t have days where I struggle like I did back then. I wish that I, armed with the strength I’ve gained in my time here, could rely on myself to weather each battle. I wish that every day I could find myself confident, expectant, full of delight. Sometimes I am those things – confident, expectant, full of delight. And other days I find myself staring out at my garden, like I did yesterday afternoon, watching a pink plastic bag dance in between the weeds and the dirt, and I’m taking a deep breath. Lots of beloved friends are leaving, the base is quiet, my babies have a skin infection on their faces, I could go on. The familiar tear rolls into a torrent and I say God I can’t do it.
Is it truethat God loves me even when He asks me to live somewhere I wrestle with? Does He love me then? Because I can whisper “you love me this much” as I sit sipping coffee on the sofa gazing at the South African bush, or as I delight in the dazzling lights of shopping centres and delicious food. But when I’m wrestling against this place, and my beliefs about His love and my environment are so intertwined, does He love me then? Does He gaze through the high blue sky and say “yes, right here, my beautiful one, I dreamt this up for you, I love you”? Is it true?
Is it true that He is going to bear fruit? It’s a promise, nestled right there in between Mary’s extravagant breaking of the jar and His own extravagant crucifixion. The seed that falls to the ground bears much fruit. Is He really going to do it? The mamas I dreamtof feeding are still hungry. The mamas I wanted to introduce to Jesus seemfar-off and complicated. The children I long to welcome home are still parent-less. The boys we pour our love on are seemingly still dull and non-cooperative. Will He destroy the excuses I’ve come up with to justify my tired faith and truly lavish this piece of dirt with His power and presence? Will He do it, just as He has promised? Is it true?
Is it truethat He has a plan for me and my little family? And that if I relinquish my quest to control my movements and rest at His feet, that His peace is enough? That peacewill overflow to me if I only let down my walls and allow Him to love me? That if I dismantle my fear of His leading, the hardness will melt away and His tenderness will kiss me back to life? And He will lead me on from this place in His perfect timing? Is His plan truly what’s best? Is it true?
You and I both know all of it is true.
Every single piece of it.
Lisa Jo-Bakersays in her turbulent tantrum-moments with her son “sometimes I have to shout into the wind, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” I have to shout it louder on the days I don’t feel it.” I can’t manage a shout but I am whispering to this part of the earth,full of dirt and need and chaos,“I love you. I love you. I love you.” Until I feel it.
Today that looked like gazing at my beautiful tree in my garden. And telling Him how beautifully He made the leaves. They really are delicate and perfect, the way they sway in the wind, just like my baby daughter bobs her head in delight.And it just so happened, I found myself a few hours later on the beach, with my tiny tribe. The sun was sinking into the sea, the white foam crashing on the shore. We bought freshly caught piles of little grey prawns from a wooden stand by the ocean. The electricity went out and we danced in the dark by the light of our lamp. And I looked down at my toddler as she ate her dinner, covered in dirt and sweat, in that white princess dress of hers, and she looked perfect.
And this morning I looked at my children playing. My tea resting on my Bible and that white painted chair I love to sit on. The dirt and the banana trees in my garden. And I found myself thinking this place is stupendously beautiful. And I could be embarrassed at how fast I can change my mind – or I could be okay with that. Maybe some strong ones don’t need to feel it to live it, but I do. And He knows just how to lead me through the wilderness, with faith. Until I feel it.