Bittersweet Symphony

I’m quickly learning that one of the hardest parts of my life is stepping into the roles God calls me, embracing every moment and all of the people I encounter, loving them with abandon and then leaving it all when He moves me on. Several years after I wrote that and two weeks after my flight home from Guyana, these sentiments are once again tracing familiar paths across my heart.

Whenever I’m alone, my mind speeds back across the murky brown river to the island of Leguan. The wind and river water whip my face, but just like last time, I don’t care. After a little while, the motor fades and the rickety wooden boat drifts to a stop. I once again remove my shoes and lower my feet over the side and into the warm water, balancing myself as the thick mud squishes between my toes. Slowly shuffling towards shore, I struggle to keep my bags high enough so that they stay dry. It feels so familiar, except that this time the beach isn’t empty upon our arrival…in my mind, it’s filled with the faces of people that I love. They stand right where my memory left them, but now, excited smiles replace the tears that haunt me.
David, Tameshwar, Brandon, Devena, Deanna, Narine, Auntie Daro, Anitra, Sweeta, Alex, Ajay, Royan, Alecia, Priya, Satrohan, Bendiya, Jamal, Anthony, Randy and little Bonnie…

Four short days filled with laughter, hugs, cartwheels on the beach, praise and worship,VBS, crafts, swimming in the river, stories about Jesus, door to door visits, silly songs and hand motions, construction, amazing food, fellowship, dancing, the sharing of life, and as a result, many tears, will forever bind these precious people to my heart.

After 10 years of trips, I’ve lost all hope that it will ever be easy…in fact, with each new stamp in my passport, it seems to get a little bit harder. Because before Guyana, there was Costa Rica, before that Bangladesh… Indonesia… Guatemala. The people of each place hold a little piece of my heart and when I’m at rest, my mind leafs through mental scrapbooks of sweet faces from the countries I’ve been so blessed to serve. There are so many images that haunt me, so many people that I know I can’t help. The condition of our world simply overwhelms me. Every time I pack my bags, more of the faceless numbers of those stark statistics come to life; one by one the statistics become the beautiful faces, the wrinkles, the bright eyes and the happy smiles of people that I’ve grown to love. They’re not just “some people suffering a world away”…they’re my friends.

I’ve often been told that I have a bleeding heart and I suppose that’s true. Many times I’ve comtemplated why I keep doing this…why, when it hurts so much? The old me whispers that maybe I should guard my heart a little better. Maybe I should keep some distance so that it won’t hurt nearly as badly. So that I won’t hurt THEM nearly as badly. In my daydreams, I once again feel the little hands pulling me backwards, the tears soaking my shirt as the children wrap their arms around me, begging me not to leave them and my heart begins to toy with the idea that maybe this is doing more harm than good. But…deep down I know that option just isn’t possible. I have to continue to love with everything I have, in every place I am sent because Jesus loved me with everything He had when He came into my hopeless world.

Sometimes I wish God would allow me to settle in one place and really invest my life. More often than not, as much as I love the craziness, I struggle with this path He’s led me down. I wonder at the impact I can have. Wouldn’t the people be better off with something constant? Does the joy at my arriving outweigh the pain of my leaving? I look into their beautiful tear-filled eyes and I’m not sure. It’s a battle to trust that there is a reason and that this calling is serving some higher purpose. But God in His mercy gives me little glimpses of heaven every now and then. When I get unexpected news that a little one, such as my David, asks Jesus to be a part of his life forever, I know it’s worth it. It’s all worth it. Maybe, just maybe this bittersweet symphony of joyful memories, painful goodbyes and eternal beginnings is the song He created me to sing.

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One thought on “Bittersweet Symphony

  1. A bleeding heart is never bad, though the tears often fall like rain and inside we are torn because our deepest desires to change this world sometimes seem to fall so short, yet we must always continue on with His perspective on life clearly in our focus. Compassion allows the eyes we have to always see with a glimmer of hope,hope in a future, hope in a new life, hope for the TRUTH.I came to the conclusion once that perfection is only seen through the eyes of a blind man, for his imagination is what drives him. Being now blinded by His grace I no longer see probability but possibility. For with Him ALL things are possible. Limitations and statistics are shattered and though we often don't understand our chosen paths, we must always assure ourselves that the bigger picture is being met. Though we have been in many different places in life I understand the feeling of gaining a family, only to know that it will soon come to an end, usually much quicker than I ever like. At least for the one's who believe I am left with the assurance that I will once again see them on the other side someday. It is those who perish without hope that I often find myself angered, broken, and haunted by. I question whether I could have done something more to impact the lives of such persons. But in a world full of turmoil, war, and death, it is sufficient to remember that He has, is, and always will be in control. Our questioning only sets us back and with our minds caught in the what ifs of the past we are powerless to be truly effective in the present. With that I close with this; The Beautiful Faces of Yesterday are the minds driving force for the inspiration of a brighter tomorrow…

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