As I read back over my Mozambique blogs, I realise that I talk like it is easy to live here, as though I roll with the difficulties effortlessly and that it is all one big adventure. Perhaps I have misled you into thinking that I am on top of it all, that as I seek to keep my attitude right and my mind focused and positive, I can handle anything. Possibly I have given the wrong impression by allowing you to think that this amazing adventure is an easy journey to negotiate and that I am a successful negotiator of its many twists and turns.
Please trust me when I say that I have not intentionally misled.
As I read, I realise that I have not been entirely honest. The positive thinker in me, the faith-filled believer in the God who is always good, has determined to believe all things, hope all things, endure all things... [1Cor13:6] Preceding those verses, though, is a challenge to love, and this is where the adventurer in me gets a little shaky.
It is true that I have decided to live my life with eternity beating loudly in my heart, so that every decision I make in each day is informed by this. How grand that sounds! How godly and shiny and unflappable I must be to live this way each day. How very glossy life is when expressed in terms that resound throughout eternity!
Did I mention the six toilets I scrubbed one Saturday morning not long ago? I would like to say that eternity was resounding strongly in my heart as I did it. I would like to say that I prayed over each of those toilets, so that every person who found themselves in a sparkling cubicle that afternoon would sense the eternal weight of their calling as they benefitted from my hard labour.
I wish. It was a stinky, sweaty, messy job and my attitude stunk to match.
I would like to say that moving house is a breeze – I have lived in a different place on average every three months in my time here in Mozambique. But I recognise now that moving throws my soul off balance every time and, just when I am beginning to find my balance again, I move again. Often it is my new housemates who suffer as I take time to gain my equilibrium in a new place.
I pray for a home, a real home where I can settle for awhile, but that is unlikely.
Faith says to believe but sometimes I find it hard. There, I said it.
I would like to say that I negotiate community living well, with grace, patience and selflessness. This I call my “Attitude Wars” where, each day, there are incoming bullets that need to be dodged. The bullets are not shot purposely and often shot without the shooter even realising the gun was loaded. I confess that sometimes I am the shooter and, occasionally and to my utter shame, it is totally premeditated. My attitude wars, when I am on the defensive, lead my actions and, when my attitude stinks, my actions - my words and expressions and body language especially – follow.
I am not good at living selflessly, at putting others’ needs before my own and sacrificing for those with whom I share this wonderful, difficult, crazy environment. Ironically, the more people around me, the lonelier I feel and I wonder how this is possible.
The big picture is that I have sold all and moved to one of the poorest nations on earth to serve. I have been told I am brave and selfless and I have been tempted to believe it all. But those attitude wars keep my feet firmly on the ground. God is concerned as much with the macro-focus of how I love as He is with the big picture.
When I get to Heaven, He will not ask, “Did you sell all you have?... Did you have the faith to go?... Did you speak My word?... “
He will ask one thing and one thing only: “Did you love?”
It has become easy now for me to stop in the middle of a busy day for the toddler in the sand wanting my attention. I like now to give my “down time” on a Sunday to pray with the old vovos sitting outside church waiting for lunch. I look forward now to going to the Tuesday prayer meeting where I will be the only woman and the only non-Portuguese speaker. When I can call it “Ministry”, it happens now without too much internal fuss. But when it is “life” happening amongst the brothers and sisters with whom I live each day, it is different and it should not be.
I am called to love, no matter who is standing in front of me. I have written before about stopping for the one. Why is “the one” out in the sand, crying for a hug, easier to stop for than the one in my own home? Where did I learn that Big-M “Ministry” starts when I step out the front door each day? What about the small-m ministry that begins over coffee in the morning?
I live in community with many others from all walks of life and from all parts of the world. It will not ever be easy and I think that is just how God wants it. We are “grace-growers” for one another. If I can win my attitude wars here in my own home then, surely, I have more chance of winning the war beyond my front door as I walk out to face each day.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful... Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”