I write letters to all of my financial supporters at least every three months. I appreciate them so much and letter writing is one of my ways to show it. This morning I wrote a letter to my supporter, former roommate and my friend Rachel. She was my first financial supporter and has been a prayer warrior on my behalf from the beginning. When I first began the support-raising process, she was the greatest encouragement to me. I wrote a post about her last March called A Little Bit of Sunshine.
While this is a little unorthodox, I thought I’d give a glimpse into my letters as well as what I’ve learned this weekend. Rachel- you get to read your letter a little early.
Do you remember Laura? She came for my 26th birthday when we went to Café Istanbul. She got married this past weekend. I got to Skype with her right after she’d got her hair done. I was so honored that she wanted to talk to me on the day of her wedding. Then she told me that if I was in the states I would have been one of her bridesmaids. It was the first time she told that and so I started crying and she started crying. And when we hung up I couldn’t get over it. I was missing one my best friend’s weddings! I was missing getting dressed up, getting my hair did, my nails, the pretty dress, the limo ride, the champagne, the dancing. And I looked at myself. My henna-tinted nails with dirt underneath, my sweat-soaked clothes that are starting to get holes from the hand washing, my unstyled hair that is falling out in clumps for some inexplicable reason, my dirty skin—and I thought is it worth it? Seriously. Is it worth it? Even as I put on a smile because it was also Abby’s birthday and I played the hostess as the women of the team came over for dessert and a movie, my thoughts were on what I was missing out on—not what I was enjoying at the moment. Because in the moment I was not enjoying it. I was preoccupied with myself and what I wanted. I hid in my own self-pity.
Yesterday, Sunday, we listened to a podcast about First Peter on suffering for being a Christian. And I was ashamed. I hoped to get solace but all I got was shame. The people Peter was writing to were suffering. The examples that the speaker used of people being raped and tortured because they were Christians—that is suffering. I cannot identify with that. When have I suffered because I am a Christian? Some former friends have distanced themselves from me and talk about me behind my back. They make fun of me. Is that suffering? No! I don’t even care! I pity the small-minded person who can no longer be friends with someone because of their religious convictions. I don’t despise them. I am sad for the conversations they miss out on by only surrounding themselves with like-minded people. My atheist, agnostic, Jewish and Muslim friends challenge me. I do not suffer when my friends abandon me because of my beliefs.
So what makes me suffer? Dengue made me suffer. My interpersonal relationships, as you well know, have caused me grief—interpersonal relationships with other Christians! My family causes me grief and sorrow on occasion. And missing out—missing weddings, births, birthdays, Christmas, 4th of July, graduations—life! I’m missing out on life! Is it worth it?
Yesterday night we had a special prayer service at my house, four hours of concentrated prayer. As the night began and we were instructed to still our hearts before God, I began writing in my journal. Do you know my first question? Is it worth it, God? Am I just a masochistic adventurer? I know it is God’s Will for me to be here but does that make it ok that I miss out on so much? Should that knowledge stop my heart from hurting? As we moved through the night from praise to confession to thanksgiving to worship, my attitude began to shift. My focus left myself and I began to remember and be overwhelmed by the greatness, love and mercy of our God. I looked around at my team of beautiful Jesus-followers and then I began to question God again.
What did I do to deserve this honor?
Why do I have the privilege to be in a foreign land and lift Your name high?
Why have I been so honored to sit among Your saints and fall down before You in worship, to intercede for a people who do not know you?
Is it worth it became replaced by You are worth it all.
I love you and miss you. Give my love to your family and our friends.