Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You Win God. You Win.

As I look back on the past 18 months of my life, I can't help but smile. Seems to me that even though I know it, that God - He sure knows what he's doing doesn't he? Here's my story...

First off, because of a series of events after my divorce I vowed in my mind that I wouldn't ever return to church. I even went so far as to tell people that I was a Christian and believed in God but didn't believe in organized religion because of things that had happened. Funny...

It was November 2011. I'm not sure how or why but I ended up at our Manager's Retreat in Gatlinburg for work. I had just decided on the Monday prior to that trip that I wouldn't be going to Africa the next summer because of the fundraising. While there, one of the managers that was supposed to be wearing a grass skirt and coconut bra at our company Christmas party in December approached me (this was for a different fundraiser I had done). He stated he just didn't want to have to do that and would "buy" his way out by means of a donation to whatever cause I had coming up. I told him no - if I let him out then I'd have to let others out and I wasn't going to do that beacuse it wasn't fair. Someone at the table encouraged me to let him make an offer, and honestly this guy has terrible bargaining skills, but it was to my benefit (and all part of God's plan). He said he'd give me $1000, I said $2000. He said $1500 and I said $3000 (more as a joke) and he said okay, agreed. The only stipulation was that he wanted it to go to a Christian organization. I was a bit shocked - I mean, really? I remember thinking maybe God is telling me to go? Nah, not possible, I don't really even talk to God these days... surely not.

I ended up agreeing to the deal and before I knew it I had fundraised the remainder of my trip funds. WHAT? How did THAT happen? I'm going to Africa. Holy sh*t, I'm going to Africa. (My exact thoughts). On a missions trip. Whoa... I kind of thought that I'd be in that population of people who goes on missions trips and says, "Oh, that was a nice experience. It was sad. I'm glad to be home." I'm fairly confident I've never been more wrong in my life.

Anyone who knows me knows that trip rocked my world. It wrecked me. It absolutely, completely, unequivocally broke me. The day it really happened was when we went to Chuko Weyama. Note this is the day I tried HARD to not go on the day trip, and even got irritated at my leader when she made me go. I look back now and laugh - again, God's plan. I just didn't see it like that at the time.  My heart shattered that day. I remember at dinner that night telling my now very good friend Andrea that I just was disappointed in myself. Disappointed in the life I had chosen to live and what I thought was important. None of that mattered.  What matters is showing love to others. Demonstrating God's love. Helping your brother or sister in need. 1 John 3:17-18 states, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." Umm.. does it get any more direct than that? I think not. 

When I came home from Africa I was broken and wrecked. It took months to get back into the groove of our society. It took time for me not to want to shout at people over how stupid they were acting over the smallest of things. But looking back over the past 18 months I know that God had his hand in this whole process all along. From the manager essentially funding my trip to me going that day I wanted to stay back... it all makes sense. Now I'm in the adoption process - another thing I refused in the beginning when I felt God pulling at my heart. I mean, that's just crazy, I'm a single mom. Oh you are funny God. Now I know this life isn't my plan, it's His. I'm just here for the ride.

I've managed to find myself back in a church I've fallen in love with. I've fallen back in love with God. All that to say, I'm still me. Just with a little more love, with a long way to go in my walk. I'm still human. I still enjoy whiskey and I still let a curse word drop now and then. Being a Christian to me now isn't about quoting scriptures, perfection, and condemning people. It's about loving people. I believe that above all, we are called to love everyone around us, no matter what our differences may be.

18 months ago you wouldn't catch me in church. Now I'm loving going. I love the way God used Africa to break me and to wake me up. I love knowing that I'm soon going to be bringing home a sweet child that I can show God's love to. I love the peace and joy. Simply Love - the name of my trip to Africa. It all makes sense now. All thanks to a man who feared a coconut bra...

You win God. You win.