Saturday, May 02, 2009

at the end of a chapter

“God is always speaking to us, and always teaching us, and obviously He wanted you to learn something today. So learn, and don´t look back. Don´t worry about mistakes. No one is perfect, no one has a script. At the end of the story, you´re going to be who you´re afraid to be.”

Those were the words spoken to me in July 2006 by Iskra, one of the girls who would become one of my closest Nica friends during these last 3 years. And I had almost forgotten about them until a timely comment by my friend Dawn brought them back to mind.

God is always speaking to us…always teaching us.

Even though I wasn’t always listening, God has taught me a lot since I left San Antonio three years ago—about Himself, about people, about culture, about development, about strength and weakness, about grace and forgiveness, about community, about love. Each of those deserves pages of reflection, which hopefully will come as I slowly try to process all that has happened in these last three years.

No one is perfect—no one has a script.

Even if I had the script before I started, I never would have believed it. Would I have believed that most fulfilling aspect of my work would simply be talking to Nicaraguans and sharing their stories with the world? Would I have believed that I would have seen ¾ of the country and been amazed by its beauty rather than crushed by its poverty? Would I have believed that I would feel the very farthest from God I have ever felt in my life in the middle of the most intentional time of service to Him? Would I have believed that my roommate would become my best friend—a friend for life?

Living cross-culturally exposed my weaknesses and frailty in ways I did not expect. But for all the mistakes I know I made, the thing that counts is—as I remember hearing long ago—not what you do, but what you do next. I can only hope that what I did “next” is what will be remembered.

You’re going to be who you’re afraid to be.

Fear keeps us from stepping out in faith. Fear keeps us from believing that God’s best is better than our well-thought-out plans. Fear keeps us from experiencing, living in, and sharing the plenitud [fullness] of God’s love. Fear keeps us from accepting our true identity and worth as beloved children of God in Christ.

A year ago, I was living in fear—fear of punishment for sin committed, fear of loving again, fear of being myself, fear that God’s purpose for my time in Nicaragua might never be fulfilled.

1 John tells us that “Perfect love drives out fear.” I’ve written before about how the unconditional love of a few friends and a new community of faith brought a genuine smile back to my face and joy to my heart. But not until this week did I realize that Iskra was right.

As one chapter ends and another begins, I have become the person I was meant to be.