Our walk with God is a lot like sewing. I'm by NO means a sewer, but I've learned a thing or two about the process from being here in Africa. For example, I find there are many times when I've become too attached to the things of this world or even the blessings that God has put in my life, wearing them as if I had on my favorite, most comfortable skirt. Then God comes along and trims away some of the unnecessary fabric that otherwise could weigh me down, preventing me from enjoying God to the fullest. Just like hemming a skirt….
Sometimes fabric rips or tears. This can be caused by simple wear and tear or by coming in close contact with sharp objects. Have you ever tried to hop on a moto-taxi only to be reminded by the ripping sound that you're wearing a skirt?? Yeah, that happened to me once in Guinea. Rather embarrassing. When something like this happens, it's best to sew the hole or tear quickly. The longer you leave it, the bigger the whole becomes. It's the same with our walk with the Lord. As a missionary, it's easy to get so caught up in "serving" the Lord that we can easily ignore small "holes" or problems in our lives. This could be in the form of unbalanced ministry and family life, not being obedient to the Holy Spirit's leading, disciplining our children consistently, our quiet time with the Lord, quality time with our husband, etc. I'm so thankful for God's mercy and patience with me as He gently makes me aware of the "tears" in my spiritual clothes. Time and time again, He patches me up, weaving forgiveness in each embrace.
Fashion is nothing more than popularity in cycles. There's rarely anything "new" on the market. The latest fashion or "mode" is nothing more than a new mixture of old and older. Fashion is influenced by culture and location, often being categorized by its decade. Each culture has its own definition of beauty. I've found in getting clothes made here in Africa, there are some non-negotiables, such as: neckline, skirt length, tightness, etc. But there are other areas where I've had to learn to be a little more flexible and "go with the flow": style, color, formality (still won't wear heels though!). This is probably the most easy comparison made thus far. I'm sure many of you are already remembering situations that have brought you to the same conclusions. Adapting is not easy. We've all had to do it, as believers and as missionaries whether it's been in a believer vs. unbeliever context in our home countries, marrying into another culture, or the culture shock of coming to the field for the first time (which some of you are still going through). But the part of this whole process that I'm dealing with right now in the light of our ministry change is: relationship changes.
Missionary life is full of goodbyes. We know that when we sign up for the job…or when we have that first outfit made. It's gonna be hard and different and we're gonna have to adjust. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced it gets any easier. Saying bye to family, to friends in the training, to supporters and supporting churches, investing in the lives of those around us only to move on…often before we're ready…before finishing what we feel like God led us to start. At times I've felt like my heart was being ripped right out of my chest….leaving a hole that could only be patched by the hand of God Himself. Here I am again…leaving my second West African country soon. That's not at all how I planned things…not at all the fabric I picked out or the pattern I chose.
But that's when I have to ask myself…Am I willing to change…not to just DO it…but to wholeheartedly ACCEPT it? If the answer is yes, than that means leaving friends and ministries behind, again. Saying goodbye again. On the other end, that means starting new relationships, again…opening myself up again. Then there's all the other adapting on a family level…the kids…the moving, etc. In essence, am I willing to embrace a new fashion even if means getting used to different colors and not so comfortable fabric? I say YES…because I choose to trust the Tailor:) What about you?