One of my love languages is touch. I desire hugs and embrace. When I am vulnerable I want to be held, and allow the vulnerability to take its course and not stifle it or create and image of an invincible woman who always has her bearings. However, Tuesday night my bearings were far from me. I laid on my bed drew my legs to my chest and kept them clutched in my arms. I wanted to be held. I needed someone to swoop in and hold me like a child.
In my head I began to reminisce of times of comfort, my heart yearned for home. I wanted to be watching a movie or playing cards with my parents. I wanted to kidnap my little brother from school and wonder about Austin. I wanted to run free at the park with Sean and the dogs. I wanted to sing with Laura, but found myslef singing The Ballad of Pacasmayo sola. I wanted to go out with some friends in San Marcos to the river and then maybe to the coffee pot. I wanted to eat ice cream with Victoria and cry while watching a movie or sit on her couch talking while conquering the entire pint of ice cream.
Then I remembered the time in November- it has almost been a year- after church I drove to Victoria’s and her roommate let me in and I crawled into her bed to wake her up to tell her what God had revealed to me about or near futures. I remembered the joy and the excitement and the peace. I also remembered when I talked with people they would always ask ‘do you know anyone there?’ ‘have you been there before?’ ‘No and Nope.’ But something else would always continue my response, “but I am excited. I have moved around my whole life, meeting new people, adapting to new schools, I love change, I am ready for this adventure. And I am excited that all I will have to depend on is God. I have always had someone to fall back on. He has blessed me in abundance with family and amazing friends who are constantly supporting me. But now all I will have is God. And I cannot wait to grow my dependence in Him.”
However, the reality of that excitement is hard. Right now there are three other missionaries here. Steve who is in his forties will be here till January, and has a beautiful heart for these kids. Mike is a year older than me but more often than not is in his house reading. And there is Sam, he is 18 and a lot like Mike. Sam and Mike are roommates and they share many likes and dislikes and hang out often. Steve has found the other half of his heart and is going to marry Maribel (the orphanage director). There is also 2 other missionaries (who used to be the pastor and director and are married- but have now moved on to other ministry), and I really enjoy talking with them. Especially hanging out with Wendy. But they are married, just had their second child, are still finishing their house, running a restaurant, and Wendy’s parents just built a house next door. So, needless to say they can’t always hang out with me either.
So, many times I find myself alone with the kids, in a language that isn’t my first choice- it is coming more naturally with time but not as English does. The kids are great, and getting hugs from thirty kids daily will certainly lift my spirits, but I can’t talk to them like I do an adult friend, I can’t talk through my troubles and struggles with them. That is not what our relationship is supposed to be I am supposed to be here to ease their troubles and show them love, and they are definitely not here to be my therapist, I am their friend, their big sister, some of them frequently ask me to be their mom and live in the house with them.
But even with all these people here in my life, new found friends and smiling faces, I still at the end of the day find myself curled up in bed with tears on my cheek. But in my funk and my selfishness I saw my left ring finger where lies my tattoo, which the kids try to rub off, ¿No salir? ‘No never.’ The ring isn’t from a man who knelt down and asked me to be his wife, it isn’t made from gold or silver, it didn’t cost a lot of money and monetarily doesn’t amount to anything, and it has no luster. It is ink in my finger permanently set to remind me of my vows, my commitment to my God.
The word is ‘dowd’, the Hebrew word for beloved one, and one of the words for love. I put it one my ring finger because I am God’s. Right now I am single and I am to be fully committed to my God. “...An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about affairs of this world- how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” (I Corinthians 7:34-35) It is my desire to have an undivided devotion to the Lord, but it isn’t always achieved because I am selfish, and I get caught up in the world. Yet he still gives me His love, and upholds His promises to me even when I dabble in the temptations of the world. So, my tattoo is a reminder to myself to glorify the Lord and devote myself to Him as a wife would to a husband, as He treats me as His bride. My commitment to Him is to take His love and power I am equipped with and pursue His goals. The goal of the gospel, to bring glory to God and take his truth to all the ends of the earth.
My fingers now hold my ring as I twist them around and around remembering His love, the sacrifice of His Son, and His promise which is what excited me to do this and initiated my response to pick up my cross leave my family and friends, to travel abroad to a land I do not know, people I have never met, and use a language that isn’t native to my tongue.
I had laid there helpless for a long while, it had gotten late, I had an early class the following morning, so I pulled out my music to go to sleep. I decided to listen to JJ Heller (whom I haven’t listened to in a while) and started the shuffle with All I Need, a song that speaks of the only thing we truly need is God and His love and that it satisfies. then it shuffled to Invisible Love, “which is how it has to be between you[God] an me.” I don’t always see God and He doesn’t physically hug me, but His love is there and He will help me get to sleep by bringing me comfort. He will ease my loneliness with His presence, He will equip me to do His work whether it is alone or with others, with friends or with strangers, in the comfort of my home country or on foreign soil.
It isn’t easy to follow in obedience to what God has commanded you to do. I am constantly being reminded it isn’t about me or you. The message of the gospel isn’t “ ‘God loves me,..Because if it was ‘God loves me’..then who is the object?” When in fact the message is God loves me so I can make His way, His salvation, and His glory know among the nations. I am not at the end of the gospel, God is. He is at the center of the universe and everything revolves around Him not me.
So if I discontinue my self pity in loneliness and seek God in those moments and put Him in the center of my universe his universe will become easier and I won’t struggle with this because I will be dependent on Him because without doing so I cannot live out the gospel. My sacrifice doesn’t begin to compare to Christ’s in fact it is minuet, but if I never made it I wouldn’t be any closer to really knowing Christ and really letting the Lord work through me.