This is a blog I’ve been wanted to write for some time but I haven’t really ever found the words. I’ve written it, edited it and then deleted it all as it didn’t seem right. So bear with me, it may not read all that well, but I do hope that it will provide an insight on some of the things I’ve been thinking through lately.
I don’t know about you but I hate to think that people would think I’m a vulnerable soul. I don’t like people to see me cry and I don’t really enjoy sharing my worries with people. Both my head and my heart have bought into this silly notion that society blinds me with, ‘Be strong, carry on, take what life throws your way and man up!’. But sometimes it all gets a bit much, I don’t have the ability to man up and more and more I find myself not wanting to.
In a recent post I said that I was going to take some time to share with you not just the joys of a recent conference but also the not so happy times. So here it goes.
Some of you will know that as of September I will be serving on an interaction team in Malta with IFES where I will have the privilege of helping out with the student ministry there. During the conference it was so great to meet with my team leader and also lots of other people who have served as part of an interaction team. As I spoke with them it was really humbling to see their readiness to serve god in what often are rather difficult places. I was also struck by their absolute honesty in how difficult it sometimes can be but also hearing testimony of how this has caused them to hold onto Jesus even more.
Very early on in the conference I began to feel more and more overwhelmed with the prospect of what being an interaction worker actually meant, to the point where all I wanted to do was cry. I wasn’t all too sure why it had got to me so much and so on the first couple of days I just put it down to tiredness and put on a stiff upper lip.
Yet I couldn’t keep wearing this mask and one evening I just broke. The conference had the theme of idolatry and was based on Psalm 86v11. This particular evening we were asked to reflect on what are we trusting above God? What are we taking comfort in above God? What are we fearing above god? There it was in black and white! FEAR. I was actually scared about going to Malta for a number of reasons which had only become apparent in the last few days.
What I conveniently forgot to tell you was that the work in Malta is very much in the early stages and as such the team and myself are trying to pioneer a movement. I’ve known this right from the off, yet I never really liked to use the word pioneering. Being amongst the IFES family however I kept hearing this word again and again and so many people loved to tell both Jon (the relay worker also coming along) and myself how it’s great to see how God has answered prayer and bought a team together.
My mind went into overdrive. Me, me what is god doing sending me? Maybe I’ve got it all wrong? Maybe I shouldn’t be going? I’m not really cut out for this! I had so many emotions whizzing around my head and I felt physically weak.
As my tears streamed I found myself embarrassed, hurting and wishing with every bone in my body that I could just pull myself together. But I couldn’t. I knew deep down that actually it was ok for me to feel this way, that actually it was probably a good thing that God had highlighted to me now some of my fears and idols before I actually leave.
But the thing that consumed my mind amongst all those tears: people can see I’m not strong. I was really vulnerable and despite having people who loved me and cared for me around me I couldn’t bare to expose my true feelings.
Why do we Christians buy into this lie? Why do we give the devil a foothold? Isn’t the message of Christ “come all who are weary”?
That week though, and at times since, God has really been teaching me a lesson about brokenness. It truly is ok. Not just for other people to be broken but for me too. I don’t need to plaster a smile on my face. Everything doesn’t have to be ok. The truth is that the more I let myself go, the less I worry about other peoples thoughts about me, the more free I am. God has been doing his wonderful work of refining me in this area and as a result I’ve been learning more of what it looks like for me to allow him to brake me, but then to start to mend me. It’s painful, but in coming to the end of myself all I can do is lean more on my saviour.
I may well have some fears, but I have a great comforter and someone who prepares the way for me. When I’m reminded and then re-reminded of this gospel perspective I can’t help then look past my fears and see the great privilege the next two years will be.