Life here in Africa requires a new level of vulnerability than I am used to. Have you ever been through phases of life like that? Times to grow and change? Times to self-reflect and question your own motivations behind your actions? Oh good, I’m glad we can just share a cup of tea and chat about it as old friends then.
Oh you know how it is here, how everything has changed. It goes so much further than those mystery hotdogs in the store. It’s not even the fact that Africa has found a way to make apple juice super different. Maybe it’s the sugar level. Maybe it’s the fruit. Maybe it’s the heat and the paper carton. Maybe it’s just everything. 😉
But it’s in the transparency. Everyone knows how many bug bites you have. Everyone knows how dirty your feet are by the footprints left on the kitchen floor. And then there’s all your personable out on the back laundry line hanging out there in public for hours… and hours. Oh sure it’s just a part of this culture. It’s totally normal. A totally different normal for this modest lady.
Windows wide open. The general public may not understand our language, but the use of a parental tone, however infrequently, is cross-cultural. The baby’s crying transitions are highly familiar to our guards. Speaking of our sweet guards, want some vulnerable transparency? How about someone hearing your every conversation throughout the day while outside your home. Oh no, people, our guards are wonderful. Sweet men from the community. But still their mere presence bucks the American culture of privacy.
Their presence begging to question if privacy is indeed as critical as it was once termed. Oh friends, we have nothing to hide. We are who we are, you know? Mistakes and all. The good, the bad and the ugly.
No we’re not postcard to send home. No poster children here. Just real. And honestly transparent.
Vulnerability is not a negative trait.
Like how would you define vulnerability? Generally it’s pretty undesirable, huh? But Africa pushes me to redefine it and live in the new definition. Oh sure, I still cringe a bit at my underwear hanging out on the line. Super awkward still. Practical? Yes. Awkwardly immodest? For me, yes.
But there’s something about it all. A rawness to live in. No room for dreaming, creating an escape or living in an alternate reality. Oh no, right here is the beauty. Right here in the middle of the push. In the middle of the pinch and the stretching.
No, friend, it’s not comfortable. And then sometimes it’s just normal and there’s comfort in that. Normalcy to laugh at your own mistake in language, even when you’re a bit embarrassed. Nope, you really don’t remember the name of that type of cup today. It’s just gone. Like it never existed. And no matter how simple of a concept that may be, you’re still fighting to compose even a toddler sentence.
But I’m just thankful. It really is a privilege to be stretched. Nope, it doesn’t always feel like a privilege. And sometimes you just have to choke back tears and say “one moment at a time”. That’s how endurance is built. That’s how you build a new life. A new life with the same old people. The same old joy and thanksgiving and sorrow. In a new setting.
The song came to my ears from the kitchen windows as I hung the clothes on the line that morning. I wanted to get all the sunlight I could get. I had two loads to rotate out that day. Music has ministered so to our hearts here. From Eden dancing to a silly veggietale song to Disney song dance-breaks and worship songs. Soundtracks of familiarity have brought such joy. Such joy flooded my ears as I chewed on these thoughts that morning. And then the song lyrics hit, making brunch of these scrambled-egg thoughts.
“This cup, this cup I want to drink it up. To be right here in the middle of it. Right here, right here. This challenging reality is better than fear or fantasy.”
No, Lord, don’t let me pass this cup. Oh sure it has its bitter spots and its hurts. This cup has its fears and its challenges. But you have set this cup before me and I desire so to drink it up for Your glory. You know the best for me. You know to Whom you have called me and then to who you are sending me. Lord, may this cup of challenge overflow with delight and love onto others. Lord, but may I never forget amidst the transparent vulnerability that this cup is so worth drinking. This growth is for Your glory. Thank You for the reminder, sweet Father.
In Jesus’ Name.