I received many strong personality traits from my mom and dad (or at least I like to think it's their fault :), but three of the most prominent truths of Stacey are these:
I am positive--glass half-full, sunshiny determination--
I am stubborn--refusing to quit no matter what--and
I am guilty. Always.
Motherhood has done nothing but strengthen these traits.
I can put a positive spin on absolutely anything. It drives Matt nuts, especially when he just needs someone to LISTEN to why he is insanely frustrated bringing 15 people through the border Sunday while officials are trying to double-dip $20/passport, fighting him to the end...and I'm talking about how at least we found a dinky little restaurant to sit with the children while waiting for them to de-corrupt, about how at least it isn't raining, about how at least how a friend is helping him, about how at least no one is sick. Someone could ALWAYS be vomiting, right!?
And I promise you, if we head out to do something, I will absolutely be the one who stubbornly abandons ship last...even if that is incredibly ridiculous. Pardoning past border guards with riffles, stepping around the largest dead and bloated rat I have ever seen, getting on a packed out mini-bus with my baby in my arms and two blondes in tow trusting that Matt is coming behind in a different vehicle...I am still determinedly spouting the sunny side. That is the shiniest gun I've ever seen, right Lily? Sofie, that rat can now be with it's little family in heaven! Isn't it wonderful that we can work on our Spanish together as we listen to the woman sitting half on my lap? We said we were going, we paid our $200 deposit and so WE. ARE. GOING.
Ah, but the guilt. The guilt is the strongest.
It doesn't really matter what the day looks like. When it's over, I'm lying in bed thinking about how I could have done better. All the little places I failed. All the places I could have done more, all the things I should be doing, all the ways I could be doing BETTER. I am continually consumed with the idea that I could/should be doing MORE. Always.
|we'd never seen the border so empty in our lives...|
And it is not easy to get a stubborn, sunshiney guilt-monster to go on vacation.
I HATE to spend money. Hate it. Part of this is because there isn't much to go around. A lot of it is because I continually mindful of the fact that many others--MOST others in the world--have even LESS to go around (more guilt). But Matt is pretty convinced that it wouldn't matter if I had 20 billion dollars...I would still hate to spend money. So even finding a 10 bedroom hotel in a dusty little town in a third world country on the cheap is hard for me to justify...especially when everywhere you look, on either side of the border...is poverty.
|Nora does not share my guilt of rest :)|
Additionally, it's really hard for me to convince myself that taking a break is OK. Especially since moving to Haiti. Especially since becoming a mom. Especially since becoming a mom in Haiti. Especially when it seems like everyone we live alongside of never GET a break (at least not what we would consider a break) from life.
Which all adds up to meaning that vacation is a really great place for me to experience extreme guilt...ruining said vacation.
It doesn't have to be Europe. It doesn't have to be first class. It doesn't have to be 30 day cruise. Hitchhiking to a little pool in the middle of the dessert is plenty enough reason for me to feel bad.
And a lot of missionaries past and present are terrified to tell anyone that they would ever go to the beach. Or that they took a four day break. It's well-known that you share certain things and don't share others. After all, we're living off the support and help of many, and
what. will. people. THINK! about vacation pictures?
(Missionary or not, I bet that thought...what will people think!?... has controlled many a decision in your day!)
However, when we first set out on raising support to come to the mission field, I knew it was going to be all or nothing. I was going to share the good, the bad and the ugly with those coming alongside on this journey, or I wasn't going to share anything. I was going to GO on this journey with you, or I was going to leave you home. I've never wanted to show you only the pieces I want to show you.
Because I don't want you to learn about me. Or see us.
I want to learn about HIM. I want to see HIM. I want you to see Him.
And most often, the times when I see Him at work are THROUGH ugly. Through embarrassing. Through humbling. Through hard.
And sometimes, living on support or not living on support, we need a break. And sometimes, our children need a mom and dad who NO ONE ELSE needs. And sometimes, our marriage needs a break from working together every single moment. And sometimes, WE need a few days out of the almost continual overwhelming reality of the extreme spiritual and physical need all around us.
There have been a couple people who have been really awesome at helping us realize that. Giving us permission. Giving me permission. Helping me realize how important rest is for our children, for our family. How Godly it can be.
One such person told me once that guilt is not from God. They told me that every time I felt that frequent guilt coming in, to ask Him:
"Is this guilt? Or is this conviction? If it's conviction, may it never leave me until my heart and life have changed. If it's guilt, get behind me Satan, for this is not of Christ, nor how He works."
What a inner-life changing truth this has been for me, and how I clung to it these past few days!
I'm praising Him today because He brought me to a new place of grace and understanding of rest in Him this past weekend.
There was this one miraculous moment, right here, when I found such freedom in Him.
After hiking over cliffs, cutting my toe on multiple shards of glass, toting a baby, baby chair, enough sunscreen for an albino elephant and two bottles of ever-warming water, we found that the earth ran out in a breath-taking way.
There was no electricity, no resort, not one other person, no food, no internet, no air conditioning, no road, no cold coke, no entertainment. There was no NOTHING except a whole lot of GLORIOUS that He had made. It was untouched. It was unhindered. It was un-peopled. Entirely.
And I found it to be the most downright Godly sacred place.
It was ALL HIM. No distractions, nothing but the work of His hands, no worries, no comforts, nothing to DO, nothing to accomplish. Only to be...only to BE, and right in the middle of His hand.
Add in the four loves who make up my little family?
I felt in those hours more complete, overwhelming joy in Christ than I have felt for a long time. There was nothing to sunshine or sugar coat. Nothing to stubborn. No sadness, no busy, no worry, no to-do...and for the first deeply restful time in a long time, there was NO guilt.
There wasn't even any space for guilt...He was too close through His creation for me to even think about all those fallen world things. Fallen Stacey.
God entirely drowned me out. And it was LOVELY.
All those prayers of "more of you, less of me" were met, in an instant, and I don't care who you are : we ALL NEED THAT. I needed that. I needed to sit with Him and be reminded that HE is all that matters.
We all must FIGHT each other to find that. Must encourage each other to pursue that. Must push each other and enable each other and drive each other to find places in our hearts without busy, without guilt, without worry, without concern of what others might think, to BE.
In His presence.
As I sat there, watching my family, I realized that HIS PRESENCE is exactly what I am supposed to BE in the world.
Not busy. Not guilty. Not savior. Not optimistic. Not tough.
I am supposed to be God's presence. Which means that when people are with me, they are with Him. When they are with me, they are to find NO guilt. Maybe conviction, maybe sometimes, but not guilt.
When they are with me, they are to be unhindered by me, and instead, fully graced by Him. Him who loves, and who encourages our hearts, who is patient and kind and lovely. Holy.
You might think Christ-followers shouldn't need breaks, shouldn't get breaks, especially if they are living on the grace of the support of others. If you think that, and you support us, I'm sorry to let you down. I'm just not that strong! And I need times of getting away with Him and with dear friends and with my husband and with my children too badly.
And I care about this walk we're all on together too much to only show you the "Stacey works her butt off" side of things, making YOU guilty and thinking that you're not doing enough when YOU break. Stacey ordered three cafe con leches, helped stake out an ice cream store, got tan lines and walked on the beach, and stayed up late playing cards (I know, even worse) and snorted with laughter with the Heckmans as Matt danced (worse still!!) to Michael Jackson.
But it was embarrassingly easy for me when we returned to take a few little comments about how "that must have been nice" the wrong way, quickly abandoning the godly joy of His rest for guilt.
So here's my prayer for us each.
So here's my prayer for us each.
Let Him love on you. Let Him replace the world with Himself. Let Him replace YOU with Himself. Maybe it's on vacation. Maybe it's at work. Maybe it's hiding in your closet with a shrinking bag of M&Ms, hoping the kids won't find you. Maybe it's just in your heart and mind today.
Is it guilt? Or is it conviction?
Let it go...or DO something about that.
Is it worry? Or is it prayer?
Pray about it. Let Him keep it.
It it criticism? Or is it edification?
Does it put others/ourselves down or is it building up?
Let us step out on trust, following His lead, let us share CHRIST in our lives, the good days and stories and the bad days and stories--
and let us be living and giving each moment for HIS glory.