Sunday, March 24, 2013

What I Wish I Knew Back Then

The fight was a doozy. Back before we were married, Brad and I chased each other down the mountain trail in Colorado, our voices bouncing off rocks during a romantic hike turned heated.

We were discussing our eventual plans to join MAF, move overseas and live the dream of making a difference. But Brad was trying to get me to go deeper with my high hopes. I think it went something like this:

Brad: “What if we have to get our water in buckets from a stream and boil it?”

Me: “What?! I’m not doing that! No way. I do NOT want to spend all my time doing such menial tasks.”

Brad: “Well, maybe you won’t have to do that exactly. But what I mean is, are you willing to do the hard work, the boring tasks, if God asks you to?”

Me. “Why should you get to do all the exciting stuff…fly those planes into distant villages, meet ancient tribes, save lives, while I spend my days boiling water? Oh, no. Don’t ask me to do that. And God had better not ask me to do that either. I have much bigger plans, thank you very much.”


Fast forward some 15 years, and thankfully, I don’t have to carry my water from a stream or boil it. I have running water and handy dandy water filtering system to make it drinkable.

And yet, my life here in Indonesia is filled with other menial tasks. Waiting in long lines in the heat of the day to buy gas for my car while my baby cries in the back. Laying awake, sweating, in the middle of an all-night power outage. Making batch after batch of granola and yogurt from scratch to feed my family breakfast every day.

And then there are the tasks of motherhood…changing diapers, cleaning diapers, midnight feedings…all so very menial made even more challenging on a remote tropical island where life is a lot of work.

Even the exciting things involve hard, sweaty, tedious work. That exciting job Brad gets to do flying his airplane into the wild Borneo jungles? Sometimes he's bent over heavy boxes, loading them into airplanes in the middle of nowhere, on a hot day, with a bad back. No one there to see.

Those messages about love and hope and God I sometimes get to share over hot tea with a friend? They are sandwiches in between a million utterly mundane words spoken as I sit outside of my comfort zone, sweating out my fears. Those orphans I get to teach English to each week? I do it, shouting over the din of chaos, holding my handmade, barely legible flashcards, my 2-year-old running sticky hands through my hair while she sits on my lap. Oh and I’d better add another half hour to my outing to wait in line for gas so I can actually get there.

Sometimes I’m still that girl who forgets that if I want to reach for my dreams, I have to press my knees on hard earth. If I want to make big plans, I have to toil at the little things. 

If I want to do something that lasts forever, sometimes it means I have to do something that will be forgotten by tomorrow.

If I want to be part of reaching the ends of the earth with love, some days it means I have to kiss my husband as he leaves for his amazing job while I stay home all day to hold a sick baby.

But when I don’t fight it, I get to watch my mundane matter, my “big” plans made even bigger, and my life be used by a God who believes in getting His own hands dirty, and making my dirty pride clean.

photo credit, AlphaTangoBravo/Adam Baker

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