Saturday, November 29, 2014

When silence speaks

When silence speaks, will we be present to hear what is being spoken?

My headphones are in but it's almost a foreign motion these days, I use it just as a front now. No music is playing and I hardly notice. I've forgotten how common the constant lull of noise is in life.
Perpetual silence has become my every day reality.

I've learned a hard lesson in these last two months without power. No means to charge my laptop, limited internet access, darkness before 7pm, dead iPod and dead phone with no hope of distraction or entertainment. Budgeting my battery life means parting with playing music as I work or clean. I've endured many quiet nights by candle light, sorting through a laundry list of thoughts which seem to present itself best on a silent backdrop. I've faced what feels like utter nothingness and complete boredom as I fight to find something to pass the time.
Most of all, I've learned what it takes to embrace silence.

Within the first month of moving here to the north, a place in which I have no history, my two fellow housemates traveled back to Hoima from where we came. I was left alone in a house with over 9 rooms and a compound that could swallow a small duplex in America. No power, no person, no entertainment, no other option. Silence felt like a madness the first few days. How I was longing for deeper human connection than the strangers I was just beginning to know. How I dreamt of calling my loved ones back home, talking over the small nuances of the day, over the new things I was learning or maybe the challenges I was facing. I spent much time imagining what my friends were doing, wishing I had a way to distract myself and feeling the frustration of having something that I felt entitled to withheld. I wasted a lot of time running from silence.

When silence speaks she tells us of the everyday joys that are awaiting. Of the simplicity longing to be held and the power of a quiet moment within our hearts.

I'm learning to see silence as an opportunity to listen. To hear what my heart says. To sieve through the clutter of self-entitlement, disappointment and discouragement and to cling tightly to words of hope and faith. I'm learning to listen to the Spirit of God, to take more time in prayer and to truly enjoy every moment in His presence. Silence has taught me great appreciation for prolonged simplicity. We can praise simplicity when it's convenient but once you find yourself stumbling around after your candle has gone out, or needing to reply pressing emails, it seems to be another story. I've learned deep gratitude for the moments I do have to use my computer, to post a picture or reply to a friend.

I'm learning how to still my mind from all the worries of the day. I've grown to love belaboring in the afternoons, barefooted in the dirt, preparing the land for the quiet dreams that God is speaking to me. I can sit and watch my chicken scour the land and find perfect pleasure in doing so.

I'm learning to be present and unafraid of what silence is speaking.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Love remembers no wrong...

Furious love.
It's the only way I can begin to describe the last 10 months. At every end, in every fear, in loss, celebration, joy and difficulty, I feel this endless pursuit after my heart.

Not many of you know but this last week marked the third theft that I've experienced in the last seven months.

It began when I moved into my new house in a part of town that is known to be a slum area. Though the place I stayed was close to the main road and quite safe, I still became a target of theft. They watched my moves and staying alone, I was an easy victim. I used to leave my windows cracked open at night (though there are burglar bars and no way for full entrance) I woke up to a face in my window, curtains pulled back and an arm reaching down into my bedroom. It was the beginning of a home marked with fear. He was unsuccessful this time around but little did I know he would come back for a second round. I changed my habits, closing my windows when I slept but opening them for a short while when I first came home. Church members would walk me in to my gate and watch me lock up. It only took one week until he came back with success. After losing my wifi router and feeling vulnerable and full of fear, I didn't sleep much for almost a month. Even after getting a dog to guard the place, I worked full time as a second night watchman. I could jump to my feet at the sound of a grasshopper and I was beyond weary from the lack of peace. I prayed, I sang, I got screens on my windows, I trained a tough dog but still struggled with this gripping fear. It was hard to see the spiritual battle at hand when all fronts were being attacked. Conflict at work, no peace at home and the lingering question if there would be any end in sight to all this struggle. Thankfully, with the arrival of my first American volunteer in May, finally, I slept. No longer did I worry about what awaited in the night and peace was restored.

With the question of outside thieves far from my mind, a new battle arose.

The ones I had loved most, poured my heart into, my time, finances and energy began stealing from me. They were the ones I longed most to see and experience the reality of Christ's furious love. I was aware of what was going on and would sit them down, confront them, counsel them and give them opportunity to confess and be restored but they weren't willing to open their hearts to the truth. I had options, I could have told them to leave, I could have locked every precious thing but still all I could hear is, "Love always trusts, Lindsey. Show them that furious love. They aren't thieves, they just don't know who they are. Don't define them by their mistakes, call them to their truest identity." Clothes went missing, shoes, money but still I kept telling them, "You are not thieves, you are powerful, responsible, and deeply loved. Start living out of that identity and take responsibility for the things going on." I could ask them what they were going to do about the things that went missing. I saw change in one of them in particular. They had brought back one of the things they stole but the other was still full of hardness and pain. Eventually things escalated and the one continued to steal and left my place altogether on their own terms. When that one left, they had taken my hard drive with all my files since I first got my laptop in 2008, they had replaced my money with fake money and went off with the rest of my U.S. cash (only about $40 that I was saving for my airport travels). By the time I realized it, they were staying in another city and I was left absolutely crushed. I had done everything I could think of to show them the goodness of God. I would pray with them, read the Bible to them, laugh, play, counsel and pour what I had into their lives but I was left only with the feeling of utter betrayal.

I pulled myself away from all the people I thought were involved. I thought about reporting it to the police, trying to put them in jail for a night, making them repay everything they stole but every thought of vengeance was met with His words, "Show them my furious love. Don't give up on them." God continued to speak His truth into my life. They would usually bring me to tears, revealing every broken wound I was carrying deep in my heart. But He is so faithful, friends. He bound up every ache and kissed every pain back to life. I eventually started visiting the one who stole from me at their home. God kept speaking to me from 1 Corinthians 13. "Love remembers no wrong..." That person was well aware that I knew what was done and they were steeped in shame but with every visit they experienced the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. I could come with sweets for their kids and some small things to give to them. Eventually after many visits, all those relationships found restoration all before I moved North. All those who took from me came for a farewell party, bought me gifts and helped me pack my things for my move. One of them even came and asked forgiveness for all the ways they wronged me. It was the Kingdom of God touching the darkest of places. It was His furious love, restoring life! I never recovered my possessions or the money I had lost but broken relationships being restored was enough for me. I was being changed by the unstoppable love of God.

Leaving Hoima was difficult, despite the 9 months of so many challenges and disappointments, all I could remember was the faces that I've grown to love and the relationships God had given me. But as I've continuously learned, there are far better things ahead than anything you can leave behind. Excitement rang through my bones thinking of a new start in Kitgum. I would have freedom from the leadership that was oppressing me, opportunity to dream and envision all the Lord had in store and a clean slate to begin from! After only three days in our new home, I went looking for my suitcase that was holding all the clothes I usually wear in a week but all in vain. To my shock, it too had been stolen. It took three days after the incident to realize that the chances of it being returned were very slim. I allowed myself to cry for the first time. It wasn't for the clothes that I cried but for the continual squeeze that I felt my heart was undergoing to continue to trust and love those around me and those I had yet to encounter. It was painful. I had to deal with the bitter loss of more of my things but God's faithfulness endures! People came together, asking how they could help, comforting, supplying towards my needs and looking after my life. I was in complete awe!

Now,  I could hardly imagine that there was still something better that had yet to come... The ones who had previously stolen from me heard about what happened here in Kitgum and went to the markets and shopped for tops, skirts and even a pair of shoes that they sent to me here! Can you imagine the redeeming love of God! In Christ, the best has always yet to come!

The furious love of God cannot be stopped until it captures every heart through His mercy and grace.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Be satisfied

I sat in the plane, totally in awe that I could fly around the world in less than a day. That a simple plane ride connected me from my place of birth to the place of my deep longings. It made the world seem small.
Only a plane ride and I would be home.

It was the first time flying that I never once felt anxious. Excitement grew in my spirit and peace filled my bones.
I could hardly believe that this was the fourth time stepping back into this beautiful country.
I prayed quiet thanks and declared goodness over the months to come. So much anticipation, so much joy.

I quickly gathered my bags and stepped into the hot air. It was late when I got in but it felt like a perfectly warm summer night. I forgot what it was like to not need a coat.
The air, the night life, the bustling city, all of it was so sweet.
And I breathed it in with deep satisfaction.

The drive the next day was a rush of all the little things that I so love...
Kids playing with tires, shops along the road, miles of endless green, banana plantations, bicycle and motorcycle taxis, mothers washing buckets of clothes, men digging deep in the red soaked soil, community gatherings, neighbors visiting one another, movement, stillness, simplicity.

It's hard to fully describe what it's like to be here but it just feels right. There is such profound contentment when you step into what God has created you for. It's a smile that continuously stretches itself across my face. It's a continual enjoyment of the little things. Birds singing melodies, my sun licked face, bright faces and a warm welcome.

It's making a home inside the heart of God.

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”
-Frederick Buechner