It's Like I Don't Even Know Myself (Chronicles of Belizean Adventures)

11:47 AMHeather

Monday, October 6, 2014.  It was a watershed day for me.  (No pun intended as you read more details).  A day so significant that I am still trying to sort it all out.  Yet, for all that I have yet to discern, I am completely confident that it was a day of great meaning and a point of reference from that day forward in my life.

First, I guess I should set the stage a bit.  In some desperate hope that I can accurately relay the significance of this day...I have to help put it in context.  I was a painfully shy child.  (Don't worry!  You won't be getting the ENTIRE life story).  From my perspective anyway, I was timid and held myself back tremendously, as a result of pretty tenacious bullying throughout elementary school due to a severe speech impediment.  I was slow to open up and terribly girly.  Okay, I was prissy.  My mom insisted on a boy haircut for me and my sister for many years, so I wouldn't be caught dead in anything less than a dress.  Lest my lisping-speech impediment-sorry-shy self ALSO be mistaken for a boy.  Growing up an Army brat, I had to refine my skills at making new friends, but I never felt I belonged. I think I still have a sense of guarding myself to some degree.

In other words, I held back as I wrestled with insecurity and I never liked to play in the mud.  I think I've mentioned on this blog a time or twenty that I lean toward OCD, as well?  Comfort zone is a big thing for me.  I play it safe.  Have never been accused of being a risk taker.

So when our team leader started our morning team meeting and devotion with a question that left that pit in my stomach where I knew I had to speak up...I was totally thinking, "Oh DARN!"  But as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I had ignored that prompting in church the day prior, so I knew I was stuck.  

I tried to summarize what I felt led to say.  But no can do.  I had to go all in and spill my whole story.  I have in the past been able to do so without crying.  But, no such luck on that day.  With 8 of my closest new friends, I laid it ALL out there.  My Beaver Clever church girl childhood as a goody-two-shoes and then my dad's death that left my entire life on shifting sand.  Then, finding that Jesus really was the Rock at rock bottom.  And the gracious gift of a new boyfriend, Chris Enright in the middle of all my ugly.  (Yes, husband to be). My whole faith journey and the latest crazy journey of the last two years.  As God has sought to unwind and unravel my empty and burdensome religion in exchange for staking all my hopes on a faith steeped in grace and firmly footed on His love.  I told my new friends about how coming to Belize was a step WAY OUT of my comfort zone.

So, there you have it.  To say that sharing my story was carthartic would be an understatement.  It was a burden lifted.  It was public declaration that I have chosen to believe that if God were small enough to understand than he wouldn't be big enough to worship.  And I will choose to worship and obey until my dying day.  Maybe not always without grumbling.  Perhaps with great fear and trepidation.  Stumbling and fumbling. But, I will not run from him.  I've learned instead to run to him.

I knew even as we broke for our day's tasks, wholly concentrated on projects that day since the kids were in school, that it was signficant.  To be that vulnerable.  To obey the prompting to share.  To go all in.  To say yes.  Yes, God.  I'm yours.  I'll go where you call.  I'll be available.  And I stepped away to hear my day's assignments feeling energized.  Free.  Light.

I think that Chris, our team leader, maybe saw an opportunity?  Or God prompted him to ask, anyway.  

Was I really going all in?  Did I mean it when I told the Lord I'd try to take the plunge of where he wanted me to go?  That I'd try to choose His power and strength over fear?  

"Hey, Heather," Chris called, "I need help in the pond.  Peto is clearing the brush for the pond that will be stocked next.  Can you help clear it out?"

Um.  Did I just say yes to God?  

For real?  Going into a dirty nasty fish pond?  

"You did say you'd work on saying yes," whispered a voice in my head.  Otherwise known as the Holy Spirit.  

Sorta hard to argue with that logic.
Off I went.  To grab my new red muck boots and to LITERALLY take the plunge.  Because Chris said something about the pond being chest high in some spots and some vague promise of no snakes.  

The team members at the fish shack construction site had a few comments to make.  About all the mosquitoes that were bound to be at the pond.  And how they couldn't really believe I was doing it.  
"This is me.  Convincing myself," I replied.

And so I did.  I tried to convince myself.  I can do hard things.  I can say yes.  I can get out of my comfort zone.  

I thought about how I'd walked the pond's perimeter the day before with three of the girls who live at Hopewell. How they bragged about swimming in the pond and how awesome it was.

I realized something then that I am still pondering now.

Knowing the Hopewell kids has made me brave.  Or braver, anyway.  Because they are so brave.  They have taken the hand that life has dealt them.  And they have pressed on.  They greet the hot, humid days in Belize, devoid of so many conveniences and comforts we enjoy, and they smile.  They march forward.  They find reasons to laugh.  They live in the day--in the present.  Not the past or the future.  They are content.  And joyful.  

So, if they can swim in the pond, then I can jump in to work there.

I can't be outdone by a teenager, after all.

You may look at that picture and think, "Big deal.  A girl in a pond."

But I look at that picture and it's powerful.  It carries great meaning to me.

Because I look at that picture and think, "It's like I don't even know myself."  How funny that God is trying to teach me to face fears and take risks and take a plunge.  And I'm thigh high in pond water. I got into that water--yes, chest high on the sides--and it was a moment of epiphany.  It was a moment of saying that I can't wait for the fear or anxiety or discomfort to pass before I do things. I do things and then the fear and anxiety and discomfort will pass.  And God will never lead me anywhere without him. Because he makes me stronger than I think I am.  He makes me braver than I imagine.

I won't be skydiving anytime soon, mind you.  But, I'm starting a journey.

I'm starting a journey of realizing how God sees me.  Of seeing the walls of old scars and wounds and deceits about myself begin to crack.  I'm praying they will keep crumbling.

Because I don't have to be defined by other's opinions.  I don't have to make choices based on emotion.  I can do things on the power of Christ alone.  I can get muddy and dirty and haul brush.  I can face a day of hard labor with dread and ask God to help me embrace it.

And he will.  About two minutes into this task, I realized the joke was on the rest of the team.  My time in that pond was the coolest I'd been all week, except for the sleeping hours when we had air conditioning.  Not a mosquito in sight.  And if there were snakes, I never saw one.  I'll choose to believe that there weren't any.  I wore my back brace--as you can see in that middle picture above--and this task also proved how far my back has come since my December surgery to repair a ruptured disc.

Seems God was showing me that he is healing more than my back.  He is healing my broken and distorted perspectives.  

Because he doesn't see me as a lisping timid prissy little girl.  He doesn't tolerate me or put up with me.  He doesn't endure me with a roll of his eyes.

No, he took me into that Belizean pond to prove and emphasize that he sees me like an athlete's parent at a big football game.  You know, those parents who wear their son's jersey with his number and a big button on their shirt with his photo.  And you know exactly who their child is because every person in the stands hears the parents cheering every time their son takes the field.  They scream and yell about their boy and what he accomplishes.

And I stood in that pond and I knew.  I knew my Heavenly Father is just like that.  He is wearing a big photo button with my picture, and he was elbowing the angels to say, "THAT is MY girl.  Will you just look at her?"

My word for 2014 is love.  I've spent this year dwelling on sitting at his feet and believing his love for me and praying it will spill over.

And he broke through some old junk to fill me with an assurance of his love when I chose to obey and say yes. I waded back and forth, hauling out brush and had an overwhelming sense of awe at what God was helping me do. 

Hauling out the brush in my heart.  Hauling out the disbelief that constrains me.  Hauling out the actions based on feelings and instead choosing to act on his power.

What more does he have? This is the question I'm still asking. 

That sense of euphoria carried me throughout the rest of the day. In fact, I still feel it when I think on this experience. I can honestly say that I enjoyed grabbing and sorting dozens of flopping slimy fish with my work gloves, as we harvested the first batch of tilapia for Hopewell.  As we were covered in the mud the fish flopped all over us. I laughed and smiled and drank it all in.

That evening passed quickly with the kids, eating dinner and playing games and doing a craft together.  And I felt different somehow.

At our evening team meeting, the leaders joked about it being my yes day.  Because I had said yes to whatever was asked.

Indeed.  October 6, 2014, was my yes day.  Because when I whispered a tenative yes, unsure and apprehensive, my Father shouted a YES, I'll help you.

Listen, I don't know what fish ponds taunt and intimidate you.  I don't know what wounds and past history still haunt you.  I don't know what deceits about yourself won't quit visiting you.

But, if I learned anything that day, I learned this.

When I am willing and weak, He is strong and able.

"For all the promises of God find their YES in Him, Christ Jesus.  That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory."  2 Corinthians 1:20   

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