temper

I have a temper. There I confessed…we can be done here, right?

Probably not.

I have been slapped for my hateful words.

I have manipulated others to get my own way when I’ve been angry.

I have been justifiably called a bitch when my temper flys.

I have incited angry words in others based on how I blew up at them.

I have punched concrete walls.

I’m pretty sure at some point I’ve broken something.

And at this point…some are thinking, ‘What is she? Jeckel and Hyde? She is always laughing!’

But I’ve not always been the person I am now. Everything above all happen during what I like to call BC. ‘Before Christ’ in my life.

image

There are times when my anger sneaks in subtle ways. For instance, when Duke lost earlier tonight…there was a hand slap on the table with a loud ‘Ahhhh! Seriously?!?!?!?’ Then an immediate, ‘I am being ridiculous. Get it together, now.’

After Jesus flooded my soul…I quickly saw what effect my temper had on others. Not to mention how incredibly selfish and manipulative it was toward others. Nor did it allow me to listen to someone else and see their perspective.

Embarrassed…I was incredibly embarrassed when I saw how childish losing my temper really was.

Here is some wisdom I have gained from James:

‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.’ [James 1:19-20]

My tenancy to lose my temper is about me and my selfish wants. I am hurt. I am defensive. I’m not being heard. I’m not being treated fairly. See a trend there? I make it all about me. And it’s not about me…it’s about pointing to God and his Kingdom.

Obviously, I am not perfect AND I’m a redhead AND I’m half German…so I still struggle to keep a lid on my temper.

But I find when I can put the other person first (admittedly not always) and really listen, then I communicate better and see both sides. I set my desires aside, be quick to listen and slow to speak…and normally I can get my anger to dissolve.

No matter what I do though, basketball drives me crazy sometimes…oh, and injustice seriously pisses me off. That WILL get my blood boiling…no matter how much I try to listen! And somehow I think God’s with me on that one.

hear

My eyes are closed and my soul is in conflict. So many things tackling my senses at once and my mind has trouble processing what my eyes have just seen.

When I open my eyes…it’s still there so far below me. The trash. The dump. The ants scurrying over it…wait, no…those are people. There are makeshift tents down there.

I shift closer to the edge of the cliff. I’m not going to fall, but I feel like I have to be seeing something wrong and a closer inspection will solve the confusion. My eyes try to make sense of the layers of color and shapes.

But my eyes are not deceiving me…the Guatemala City dump has families that live there, sorting through the trash to find food and items to sell for a meager amount. Grandparents, parents…children. Living in horrid conditions…how can the world exists like this?

My heart plummets as I am called by the rest of the team to go. Why is no one doing anything?

Assaulting my ears as I turn away is a musical sound that doesn’t fit the view I have been soaking in. My brain struggles to place the sound in this place where it shouldn’t logically survive. It is like the atmosphere was tickled with a sound so feathery light that allowed it to travels for miles unhindered.

IMG_9197

I hear the laughter of a child.

In a dump.

Sadness, anger and an intrepid sense of injustice washes over me as I turn to walk away from a moment that has marked me.

It’s been years since I first stood on that cliff, but ever since, my soul cannot escape the memory of that sound.

I could have very easily not heard the laughter. I could have ignored it. I could have decided to wall up that moment and never think of it again.

But God uses our senses to remind us that this world is not right and this is not what he intended. He uses those moments to ignite us to his mission…

God gave you ears to hear…but the next time he wants you to hear, will you listen?  How will you respond?

‘the’ debate

I love the moments when I look around a table and find myself thinking, ‘I am so incredibly blessed to be able to serve with these people.’ Our Haiti team leaves in about a month, and we have a strong team on all fronts. We have laughter. We have strength. We have experience. We have desire to do more than just put up walls…we seek to make friends, create relationships…and see where it goes. I’m waiting for the moment when one of them looks at me and says, ‘I want to come back here, because of this kid or this connection I have with this person. And what if we…’

I had a translator once in Russia that went above and beyond just translating…but it was because we had become great friends over several years. Who knows what God has in store for us in Haiti? I do pray that he is already preparing some great people we will connect with in Mellier.

But…’the’ debate…short-term verses long-term mission trips…if you haven’t heard a whisper of the debate that has gone on for years, here’s the basic gist. The short-term critique is folks spending a lot of money, jumping in to ‘fix’ something to their American standards, dumping whatever they think the community ‘needs’ and then leaving again to never come back…however, going home with great photos and stories of third world ‘suffering,’ (consider those ‘air’ quotes…). That is normally the negative side, the realistic side is not many people have the time to do that…and if we say it’s all bad, what about those God wants to use and the people that could be drawn to the Kingdom of God?

The long-term side is normally people who feel a deep call to mission in particular communities…anywhere from urban America to Africa, from Brazil to China, etc. They put roots down in the community and stay for years, raising families in that community, letting their lives be proof of God’s love…over a long period of time. Not something you can do in 8 days. I don’t think many folks argue that long-term is bad…there are just bad ways to do long-term that hurt the community they are trying to help.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do in the international mission field is checking your American culture at the door before you leave. If your plan is to move people away from the ‘dark side’ and bring them into an American viewpoint and structure, you should probably stay home.

Both sides of the notorious debate have positives and negatives. That being said, I am well acquainted with both, mostly by people who like to critique short-term missions that I participate in…and lead, which means I have given this a lot of thought if I am committed to taking other people with me.

All that being said…here’s where I stand. I am well-aware, trust me, on how much money short-term missions throw out into the world when a community could be using it for something they need. These decisions take a lot of time, and honestly…calling…if you are not sure what that means…let’s talk.

I believe in the world not being near as large as it used to be, and I believe that God pulls people he has built to do well in other cultures to go love others across borders. It used to take months for missionaries to hop borders…now it takes mere hours.

Even more, I believe that developing relationships over time in short bursts truly allows God to work, and that is something I have learned over 9 years. I wholeheartedly disagree with going in once, doing whatever and never going back. I think it is a complete disservice to the Gospel, and those you are ‘serving.’ The times I’ve been a part of that it disheartened me so much it is scorched into my memory. Now, if I go somewhere new…you can count on there being more going on than just going on a random trip. I’m looking for new possibilities, new relationships and most of all…God where would you have me?

I do think long-term is the most effective, but not so far as to say all short-term is wrong. I also think that God calls specific people to long-term ministry. I’m intruiged, and champion, those from Africa, China and South America that also make the leap to long-term ministry. Long-term is in no way ‘Western’ specific. Even more so, I champion the folks that move into the urban center and live among their neighbors, or feel called to a refugee group in the US and move to live among them…LOVE IT!

Yet, sometimes, long-term and short-term work hand in hand. Last year, a man who had been a missionary to Nicaragua for 7 years was asked, ‘Would you have preferred support money or their presence to build your ministry?’ His answered, quickly, ‘Their presence, every time, but many churches don’t want to have a presence…it’s easier to throw money at something.’

Listening…if the community doesn’t want you there, or they only want you there for your money…not your friendship and discipleship, you’ve got a problem. You HAVE to listen to what they are saying, what they need and if they even want you there…balanced with, are you going to be making them want material things that are unattainable for them in their economy?

When you find yourself a part of a ministry that is alive and active all year long, staying in touch with those they visit on mission trips, with people they call family and it’s all reciprocated by those they are ministering to…God is doing something there!

In May, I am traveling with a phenomenal group of people, who I know will have connections that make people wonder what the common thread is…I pray people are drawn to that…and that we drawn them to the Kingdom of God. And since you know what I am looking for…you can pray too…