when God writes your love story… and it’s not about you

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Our Man Team now find themselves safe and sound back in America, after taking a late night flight through Amsterdam Monday night. Tori had some work to do, as per usual and I needed to push myself through editing the copious amounts of footage, so we’ve been staying at the FPCT mission in Dar for the week. If all Tori’s work goes well, we’ll start the two day drive home to Kansansas on Saturday.

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It’s odd being alone.

I have my own room here,
with a normal bed
and a normal bathroom
and even AC.

Quietness and solitude can be overwhelming when you haven’t had it in nearly 6 months. Since our move to Kansansas, every single noise in and around our house has filled me up, pouring constantly like a waterfall down into a river. It has become both a comfort and constant stressor for me. I am never without sounds of community, from the morning stirrings of my teammates to the neighbors coming for water at our faucets to the children playing with Pilot to the endless cycle of pikis coming and going from our house.

Noise.

I can’t explain what a breath of fresh air it’s been to be quiet and alone, with the only sounds being the AC and ‘The Rend Collective’ softly making its presence known from my iTunes. I wake and have breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, toast and coffee without interruptions. I work on editing for several hours during the day, journal, read, rest, all in cleanliness and peaceful calm and it’s been absolutely rejuvenating after a month in the bush with a bunch of men.  They’re the greatest, I’ve just been worn out.

It’s dangerous being worn out here.
It’s embarrassing to admit.
It makes me feel overly dramatic.

And like I’m letting down all the amazing people at home that are supporting me with their prayers and finances.

But I have become worn down.

It’s been difficult to pin point exactly where or when it happened.

Most of it comes from my preconceived ideas about missionary life and my strained efforts to do everything perfectly getting slammed in the face with the reality of ‘a life poured out’ in a country that you didn’t grow up in.

I’m tired of having people assume that I’m here to give them money and things just because I’m white. I’m tired of being asked for everything I own to be given away. I’m tired of having people, friends from church, be sneaky and underhanded with us. I’m tired of giving a gift of love, and immediately having the receiver demand more. I’m tired of being called a Freemason and being the foreigner, no matter how hard I try to blend in. I’m tired of drawing further and further into myself to protect myself from the hurts and disappointments that come as I realize much of the time, I’m desired only for what I can give away.

That last one is the clincher. The thing that makes me want to run away and never allow anyone near me again, just like I’ve done with romantic relationships the past few years. Rather than allow intimacy, I’ve pushed everything out with my crudely constructed logic that even though I’m missing all the good, it’s worth hiding from the bad. I was elated when I realized that I’d be taking a hiatus from all that nonsense to “do missions” in Africa, but after a bit of time here I realize that I either remain vulnerable and therefore a conduit of Jesus’ love or I shrivel up and die within myself in refusal to let anyone in. 

But it hurts to remain soft. It hurts to let yourself love people who look at you like a genie in a bottle and only come to you when they want something. How? How am I supposed to love people who blatantly don’t want me or are trying to use me to better themselves?

And as I lament over this difficulty, I heard God, for the first time in what feels like ages, gently and quietly whisper,

“I do it for you all the time.”

And for one moment, if only a millisecond of time, I understand how much I, we, all of us, break the heart of God. And I felt very, very small. And very, very overwhelmed with the love that Jesus has for me to continue to love me, even though I come with outstretched arms seeking His providing hand rather than His loving face.

One of my favorite people/professors from SEU once tweeted a quote that I feel like I only now understand:

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It isn’t my job to determine if someone is worthy of my love, and especially not to pick and choose who should receive the love of Jesus. It isn’t my job to make change happen in hearts. It isn’t my job, nor my concern if people like me or receive what I’m giving them with grateful hearts. It is just my job to love them, no matter what, at whatever the cost. It was worth it to Jesus, and if my love for him is as steadfast and true as I claim it to be, it will be worth it to me as well.

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

And so, I reach this point:

ImageMay this be a reality in my life, rather something artistic or poetic I admire from afar. May I choose this vulnerability and softness. May I love because Christ first loved me. I want to be there… but if I may be so obvious, it’s just not easy. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Be my strength.

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2 thoughts on “when God writes your love story… and it’s not about you

  1. Stephanie,
    I am a cousin of Tori and just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog! It is great to hear how the team is doing from a beautiful, poetic, photographic point of view. I love hearing your heart so thank you for sharing:) Each post I get a chance to read is greatly moving.
    -Cayenne

  2. I appreciate your honesty…beautifully stated…you can’t begin to realize what a blessing and inspiration you truly are…continuing to pray for you…be blessed

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