Sunsets are a type of communion for God and I. To me, they are His reminders of what's truly important. To remember that He's in control, and the world is going to keep on spinning, and the sun rising and setting regardless of whatever thing I'm currently fretting about.
Sunsets are altogether spectacular and glorious, and never cease to bring me a sense of peace and solitude in the assurance of the goodness, faithfulness and steadfastness of The Creator. For those few, breathless moments, I forget about the stress, and my incessant need to have everything under control.
If I'm being completely honest, trust has never been something I'm good at. It takes years for me to feel comfortable with fully opening up to another soul, and only after countless hoops have been jumped through. Perhaps it's because of all the times my apprehensions and intuitions about a person or situation have been proven entirely true, or because of how mean little girls in elementary school can be.
Whatever the root of the issue, the issue resides nonetheless.
My next most unfortunate quality is my inability to ask for help. I'm certain that flaw #2 is best friends with flaw #1 because they seem to be rather complementary. When you can't trust people, you condition yourself to believe the insidious notion that self-reliance and complete independence is the only way to accomplish anything, and to prevent disappointment.
Turns out, even you can fail to measure up to your own expectations.
Moving to Haiti was exactly what this trust-phobe, "self-sufficient," stubborn mule needed to realize that she is altogether ridiculous and needed to get over herself.
As God and Haiti began to peel back my layers, deep layers might I add, of distrust, past pain, rejection, fears, and all which led to my ultimate suit of self-preserving armor, what remained was a broken and insecure girl. A girl who needed to be reminded every now and then that everything was going to be okay, and sometimes risks need to be taken, and people that may not have yet passed a background test need to be trusted.
It's rather hilarious if you think about it, that a non-commital, trust-phobic, overly independent woman as myself would end up as a missionary whose survival is 100% reliant upon trusting Haitians to help her live in country, and others to financially support those endeavors.
Even though I've made the most minuscule of improvements, my issues like to hang around and remind me of the inadequacies of everything and everyone.
Enter flaw #3. Fear of money, or lack thereof. Money has been my least favorite subject since I was old enough to understand what a checking account was. Numbers and the management of it have always brought me an insurmountable amount of anxiety, and I'm going to solely blame the trauma that was eighth grade Pre-Algebra for this.
So imagine, I can't trust people, I can't ask for help, and I hate talking about money. This trifecta is probably exactly why being placed into a position where I'm forced to trust people, ask for help, and talk about money constantly has ended up being my calling.
I'm of the belief that our greatest weaknesses are actually our greatest strengths in disguise.
I've always really loved C.S. Lewis, and lately I've grown to become particularly fond of lions. If you add those two together you get the extraordinary character Lewis penned in classic series The Chronicles of Narnia - Aslan.
Unless you've lived under a rock for the past sixty years, you should know that Aslan is the main character of the series, referred to as the Great Lion, and ultimately represents Jesus in a way.
Throughout the books Aslan has some pretty remarkable lines.
Aslan, and lions in general have awakened a new sense of freedom within me. A strength to look whatever fear that has currently presented itself, straight in the eyes and hold on to the whisper for courage. To know that you are protected, and to take the leap trusting that you'll make it to the other side.
My dear heart has been battered and bruised, picked up and smashed to the ground and at times, even left for dead. My resolve was to create as many walls around my heart as possible to prevent it from ever being broken again by someone I thought I could trust, or by a disappointment from an unrealized dream. Yet, that preservation only led to more pain.
Unbeknownst, I was denying myself from experiencing true miracles and the beauty of human kindness. The security I found in distrust was an illusion, a great deception that was leading me toward a slow demise.
But the Great Lion sent a whisper though the soft glow of a bright orange sunset.
Courage, dear heart.
And the pain began to slip away. Wounds slowly became scars, and the scars slowly became nearly forgotten memories.
I still find it extremely difficult to voice a specific need. I analyze until there is nothing left to analyze, and speculate over every possible angle to avoid directly asking for whatever it is that I need. Yet, try as I might to avoid outright asking, at times there seems to be no other way.
And then I hear His voice.
Courage, dear heart.
This week it became all too obvious that we could no longer continue to function without a vehicle.
So, I laid down my pride once again, and humbly expressed our need for car. $10,000 was the asking price, and even as I typed the numbers, I had every bit of hesitancy to allow myself to be overly hopeful that the need would be met in its entirety.
Our first donation was $50.00. Fifty dollars with no sign of anymore to come. I went to bed discouraged, convinced that once again we would continue without a car and just figure out how to make it work.
The next morning I awoke to a message from an incredibly generous soul who wished to give $5000.00 in hopes that it would spur others to give as well.
I couldn't believe what I was reading, but it gave me a confidence boost to keep pushing to meet the goal.
The donations started to come in.
Little by little the tally rose, and I could see the numbers adding up.
Before I knew it we had reached $9650.00. We were $350.00 away from reaching our goal, and my old friend Anxiety decided to stop by for a visit.
What if that's it?
What if you don't raise all the money?
What are you going to do?
Most would call this mental conversation entirely absurd seeing as we had managed to raise 90% of our goal in less than three days, but that's what happens when you are slave to distrust, no matter how much provision you see, no matter how many things go right, you're stuck believing that there's always a chance that they could go wrong.
And then as I watched yet another glorious sunset, I heard those words again.
Courage, dear heart.
Two hours later we had not only the $350.00, but $240.00 over our goal. In less than 72 hours, $10,240.00 had come in toward our car.
I suppose I won't ever stop learning to let go and trust. I'm certain I'll always face situations that give me anxiety and require the surrender of my self-preserving ways.
I'll never stop needing to hear the words of the Great Lion, and trusting His ability to protect and provide.
In book five of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy, Aslan has yet another astounding quote...
And that's just it. In my times of solitude with the majestic sunsets, I have to find my rest. I have to come before The Creator and acknowledge my weaknesses, my flaws, fear and failures, and ask for the courage to do it over and do it better. To come to Him to find what I need and place my trust in His supreme omniscience and omnipotence, and trust that once I let go, he will fill me with the courage I need to continue – and joy shall be mine.
And joy is way better than holding onto false ideals of independence and control.
Courage, dear heart.
Thank you again to every single person who allowed yourself to be an instrument of blessing to me and the ministry of Jasper House Haiti with your support and donations toward our much needed vehicle. We <3 you.