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the simple things. Tuesday, 12 February 08
Last night I had a dream. And I remember it.
I was paddling on a surfboard, in the ocean, trying to catch a wave, struggling to stay atop my board. After a while, I began swimming towards the shore, bawling my eyes out because I was reminded of Muizenberg (where I first learnt how to surf)… as I got out of the water, I realized that I was back in Muizenberg! Excited, I tried to find my way back to the YWAM base so that I could say hi to Rene, Jojanneke, and everyone else.
Suddenly, it looked like I was back in Virginia (but in my mind I was still in Muizenberg) and everywhere I walked, I couldn’t find the base. I literally circled around some roads and failed to see where it could possibly be. We passed by some South Africans, and I began to speak to them in kinyarwanda (which they don’t even speak in South Africa…it’s the main language of Rwanda.) I said “Ndagukunda Jesu” to people, explaining to those who were with me that it meant “Jesus loves you”… only when I woke up I realized it actually translates “I love you Jesus”. Haha, oh well.
Anyway, I thought I was over it. But I guess Africa’s been impressed upon my heart more than I realize. Though it doesn’t pain me as much any more, I still deeply miss it. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I don’t want to lose this feeling, this aching in my heart to go back. I don’t want to forget. I mean, I don’t want to live in the past at all, but I am finding it hard to let go.
I feel like I had a simplistic outlook on life while I was there. Everything was simpler. It was about waking up and loving people, and being thankful for clean water, and being ecstatic about running water, and not being too busy to go exploring the town or dancing for hours in an empty room… Why is it so much harder here to find meaning in the simple things? It’s always about schedules, and classes, and who am I going to meals with, and what meetings must I attend, and when do I have to work at the desk… God, I long for simplicity.
To see people the way You do.
To see myself the way You do.
To see You the way You really are.
To be loved.
To see You lifted up in my life. On the earth. This is what I want to live for.
Don’t let me forget!!!
There is an Afrikaans word “deurmekaar”, which means crazy, messy, confused, out-of-order… there isn’t really any one English word that can quite sum up its meaning.
I feel a bit deurmekaar today. All over the place, hectic, running around trying to get stuff done, and not exactly succeeding… I don’t think this is the way God intended my life to be.
There are so many new things happening in my life right now. Fresh stuff that God has seen fit to bring me this semester… new friendships, a new major (!), new passions and interests. And while all of it is really exciting, I almost feel like I have, for a moment, lost sight of that which is most important. God.
I so want to know what the purpose of my life is, I want to seek God’s calling on my life. But not at the expense of losing the relationship.
Why do I always come back to the same point? God must be all to me. He is no longer a part of my life. He must be all. If he is not, then that’s when things tend to get a bit deurmekaar. So I guess I’m coming back to what it’s all about…again.
And I bet this isn’t the last time.
Life loses its meaning if we try to do it apart from Him. God will destroy anything upon which we try to build our lives, because he is a jealous God, and he wants what is best for us. So I find myself here picking up the rubbled pieces, mindful of the fact that I have reverted back to building on sand, when all along the Rock has been right here in front of me.
speak life. Saturday, 4 August 07
There are not many feelings in the world that can compare with feeling loved. When you feel loved, you are completely secure. But you know what I’ve been realizing recently? That being understood…TRULY understood by another human being is definitely a close second. When you’re understood by someone else, not only are you totally secure, but you also can let down your guard.
And what else is friendship really about?
I have got some of the best friends in the whole entire world. I just had a beautiful evening with one of them. We drove, we browsed through formal dresses at Lord & Taylor, we laughed about things that no one else would find even remotely funny, we sat down to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and had one of the most refreshingly honest chats we’ve had in a long while…
Anyhow, both of us had a huge revelation as our conversation unfolded. And simple though it is, it is so true! Here it is: everyone wants to be loved and understood. Simple as that. And we’ll take it one step further. Not only do people want to be loved and understood…they want to HEAR that they are. Everyone needs to be reminded of these things now and again. Even the friend you think is the most confident and loved person on the planet needs to hear it from time to time.
There are certain things we tell ourselves in our head.
I am loved. I am accepted. People like me. We tell ourselves these things because it is too easy for the world or for our insecurities to tell us otherwise. “Nobody likes you. You’re too complicated to understand. Who would love you?” But the thing is, sometimes it is really refreshing to be reminded by someone outside of our head. Words hold so much power.
And the world was created.
A few weeks ago I had a breakdown in front of two of my best friends. I cried as I told them how I didn’t feel like I was really welcome with my group of friends at home. Especially after being gone in Africa for 6 months with little contact with them…I was feeling insecure and unsure about how they felt about me. My friends (amazing they are) pulled me aside, told me to stop talking, and proceeded to reaffirm me. Rachel, you are never imposing on us. We are your friends, we LOVE you. We are blessed to have you. Stuff that should be a “given”, right? Of course, if they’re my friends, then they love me, and I’m a blessing to them. But in my own head, I’d made up my own version of reality. I was bothersome to them, I was awkward, I no longer FIT in. They’d moved on without me.
Since that late-night chat, I’ve had a few recurring incidents of insecurity. But now it’s much easier to see the truth and believe it. I literally hear their voices in my head telling me that they love me. That I am indeed a blessing to them. It’s not just them that bless me…it’s reciprocated. I don’t know if you’re anything like me… but if you’re human you probably have felt like this before. Be honest. : )
The words we speak make a difference. A world of difference. They shape us, they make us who we are. They shape other people too, and make them who they are. Be careful the voices to which you choose to listen. Hear something enough…and it will become reality. Be careful the words you speak. Speak it enough, and reality is created.
If you love someone, please tell them. They may know it, they may have forgotten though, and it never hurts to be reminded that you are loved.
May you create beauty by the words you speak today. May you know how much you are loved. And if you do not yet know the One who loves and understands you infinitely…then may you come to know Him and that wonderful love.
Refocusing Tuesday, 17 July 07
Last night I went out for coffee with a friend. Actually, I had only met her once before, and that was over a year ago… but we have a mutual friend, who ended up re-introducing us and before we knew it, we ended up at the Cheesecake Factory talking for nearly two hours.
I feel like it was one of those moments in life where God becomes so much clearer, and all that once was blurry begins to sharpen, and you begin to really SEE. Anyway, the whole conversation was so refreshing and encouraging, that I just want to share a little piece of the things we discussed.
Being home has been tough at times, boring at other times… but the whole of it, God has felt really distant. Or maybe it’s just that I didn’t want Him to be too close. But last night as we chatted, I realized that God is such a jealous God and that He will literally destroy anything that gets between us and Him. It sounds funny, but often times, it’s quite painful when the things or people in which we’ve put our hope, fail us.
Leaving DTS was a hard transition, mainly because I was constantly surrounded by people there, anytime I experienced God, it was in the presence of other people. And coming home, I am mostly alone. And I think I began to think that maybe I could not experience God by myself. Which is so off, I can’t even begin to tell you…
I’m beginning to see that God likes to kinda pull the rug out from under us, so to speak, so that we will start to depend and rely fully on him. If we are depending on anything or anyone more than we depend on Him, then we have lost sight. And He is so faithful to keep bringing our focus back to Him.
We were created for intimacy with Him.
That is the basic message and motivation behind the Gospel.
God wanted to be intimate with us. We were made for the sole purpose of knowing the One who made us.
How is it that life carries us so far away from our main purpose?
How is it that in the search for our God-given destiny, we sometimes stop seeking the Destiny-giver?
God is a jealous God.
He is after your time, your attention, your heart.
Your entire life.
And I think we’ll find time and time again, that that is the only way we can truly LIVE.
We must keep coming back to the cross. To the Source of our life. Jesus.
Life without him kinda sucks.
If you haven’t found that out yet, sooner or later you will. : )
May you be totally satisfied in Him alone today.
I was thinking today about how when I was in Rwanda, there were so many comforts that I missed from home. Simple things too, like running water, hot showers, toilets that flushed, and carpet under my feet. There were other things too like my mom’s cooking, my cell phone, a comfy pillow, privacy, alone time, etc…
And now I am home. I took a hot shower last night, every toilet I’ve used today has flushed, just had lunch (that my mom made), there is carpet under my feet as I type this, and I am alone in the study. And strangely enough, now I miss comforts of a different sort. I miss late-night conversations with Georgie underneath our mozzy net. I miss Arun poking his head in our window, asking “Do you need your iPod charged?” I miss Rene pulling me aside randomly and hugging me tightly. I miss the walks Taz and I used to go on, where she’d just encourage me the whole time, telling me, reminding me of who I am in Christ. Oh how I miss these things!
You see, I think when there is a lack of physical comforts, you turn to people, and the joy that they bring you becomes comfort to you. Truth be told, I can live without a flushing “loo” or bread and bananas for breakfast every morning… I’ve done it, so I know.
The Africans are onto something though. In African culture, people (and the relationship you have with them) are valued above all else. You drop everything to talk to your neighbor, you can get distracted at the market, but it’s okay, because people are more important than your daily agenda.
And I really, really miss that. I miss people who will listen to what I say, because they truly want to hear the words I say. I miss being hugged- the kind of hug that feels like they’ll never let you go. I miss it.
When I think back to the past six months, what I treasured the most was my relationships. I felt so loved and so accepted by the people with whom I spent my time. I wish I had taken advantage of it more.
Maybe we just show love differently here in America. Or maybe we are just so busy with our “comforts” that we forget just how valuable people are…
what do you think?
the beginning Friday, 29 June 07
I guess just because I am back from Africa doesn’t mean that I can’t keep writing. After all, there’s a lot to write. So, I’ve changed the title heading which used to read “Live from South Africa”. I briefly considered “Live from Ashburn”, but decided against it.
I don’t actually have anything brilliant or earth-shattering to write today. So if you are looking to read something that will change your life, I apologize. This isn’t it. Try checking back a bit later… who knows, I may have some amazing thoughts in a few days.
Oh, but I will do this: I’ll recommend the book Velvet Elvis to you. I’ve been recommending it to everyone and their mom lately. And I will even go so far as to say that it actually will change your life. $15 at Borders for all you Americans! (I know because i just bought a copy earlier this morning) Go get yourself a copy.
Rob Bell really ought to pay me for promoting his book.