The last month has been such a roller coaster ride for me. And if I’m honest it’s felt like a lot of surprise drops and unexpected hard turns. Maybe you’ve been feeling the same way!
I have spent the last four weeks leading a team down in Puerto Rico.
Some of you may know that from February of 2017 until December I served in Americorps, which is pretty much like the peace corps but for America. I was plugged in with a disaster recovery organization and I served most of my time in Columbia, SC, but the majority of my last few months was served in deployment in Houston, TX after Hurricane Harvey. Long story short, after my ten months was up I was asked to come on staff as a temporary employee to lead four current Americorps members to the island as it is still in desperate need for relief after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
When I got that call, I was beyond stoked and knew it was God’s way of providing and also giving me the desires of my heart. Once I heard about the devastation in Puerto Rico I wanted to come down here to help in any way that I could. My parents, who both served in the Navy, met on this island, and I just felt a deep desire to come help put the pieces back together. Now I never actually thought I’d be able to, and if I did it would be me paying to go on a mission trip and covering all the costs. I couldn’t believe not only did I get to go, but all my expenses would be paid for and I’d get paid to do it! God is so great.
We all get here, I meet my team, and we’re excited and ready to work. I knew things were going to be crazy, tough, overwhelming at times, but also thrilling and beyond rewarding. Little did I know that in my time here God would be showing me some deeply rooted issues and begin to start working me through them. I had so much going on I was floored when I realized how quickly I would be forgetting about Him; the one who had given me this amazing opportunity.
I wrote about people pleasing and lying a couple weeks ago and those were two pretty big things to see that were in my heart. As I’ve dug a little deeper, it all really points toward caring about what other people think of me. In some ways it can be a good thing, using it as a gauge to truly see if what I’m about to do is a good choice. But in most cases, at least with me, it’s a hinderance. I get so caught up in thinking thoughts that other people probably aren’t thinking and prevent myself from doing what I want or even know to do. I don’t want to be seen as weird or unlikeable by the people I am around and I end up hurting those I love.
It comes out in fear, and we know that God’s perfect love casts out fear. I need to, and am very slowly learning, to remember that verse. To remember it’s not about what others think but rather what He thinks, and ultimately working for and pleasing Him who knit me together in my mother’s womb, instead of stressing about not being liked in a life that is fleeting.
Now I say all that as if it’s easy, but there isn’t anything easy about changing the way we think and instinctually act. However, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Every valley means there’s a mountain peak to ascend, and when we get there it’s always ever so sweet.
As I am wrapping up my last few days on the island, and counting down the hours until I can get a hot shower and my own bed, I am choosing to continue to dig even deeper and give Jesus the space to do the work necessary. I am grateful for so many things about this trip, but none more than the fact that if I hadn’t come down here I may not have seen the plank in my own eye and be able to start the process of allowing Him to create in me a new heart!