Monday, November 01, 2010

Crying "wolf"

This whole visa business has been wonderful for waking me up and getting me to think about God more. I'm very thankful for all the lessons I've learned in the process.

It's funny looking back at this last month, and seeing all the things I felt and went though, the emotional ups and downs and twirlies and nose-dives... Quite the ride.

But one interesting thing for me was the amount of shame I felt for being in a situation like that to begin with. I noticed a pattern of similar things happening (maybe not quite so dramatic, but there is always that "I have no idea what's going to happen in the future, so I can't make any plans at all" kinda panic that sets me on edge.) It just kinda wears you down after a while, and you get to the point where you feel like "what's the point of getting all worked up about it anyway?"

Now I'm not advocating fear, since fear of anything other than God is basically telling God you don't trust him. But something has been nagging at me lately...

You see, this time around, I didn't tell Sing about my visa problems. I usually tell him most everything that's happening in my life. I've been here for 6 years now, so he's heard me be uncertain after my first two years, if I would be allowed to extend or not. He had full confidence that I would still be in Japan. And I was allowed to extend. One point for Sing. The year after that there wasn't so much worry because they needed me to extend to fill up places. My after my 4th year was finished, I was once again uncertain. I wanted to stay in Japan, but I was ending my term with the church and needed to find a job. Nothing was coming up. I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Sing never doubted. He just told me everything would be fine and I would get a job. Turns out I got a job. Another point for Sing. I thought I might move last year, and he convinced me not to. Another point for Sing.

So though all of this, I kinda feel like I've been crying "wolf" for 6 years. Every time I worry, everything turns out all right. Kinda makes you feel really small. So this year, I didn't even want to tell him. I didn't want to face him again if everything turned out OK, which is did.

But I was thinking about this feeling of shame. I'm not sure the shame is what is true. That's a funny thing to say I guess, but really, when I think about it, none of the problems were fake. They were all really there. I was in danger each time (a kind of danger anyway.) They were real wolves. So every time before, I was telling people there were wolves around me. Panic is not a good response to wolves. But telling people that you've seen a wolf is not a bad thing.

And what happened in every case? My Shepherd rescued me. He fought off the wolves and restored my safety. Wow. So what looks like me calling "wolf" is actually me testifying to what God has done for me. No shame in that. Now that's a new way to look at it.

My good friend likes to tell me that I live on the edge. She's talking about how I do ministry and such. I'm not good at doing things inside the church, but I go off to the edge and work around the people there. I think it fits in well with my wolf analogy.

If you imagine sheep in their pasture, I'm the sheep wandering closest to the forests and such. I don't go too far, but I'm on the edges. Well gosh darn it, that's where you're gonna see wolves! So my Shepherd get's to run out and rescue me a lot. But I think He likes rescuing me. He doesn't tell me I need to stay in the middle. He lets me live out by the edges. And as a result, I get to see lot's of cool wolves that never get to touch me.

So when I go back, I can tell people about my "wolves" and how my God rescued me from them, and that brings Glory to His name, not shame to mine. I'm glad that I've had such a chance to cry "wolf" so many times. I'm sure there will be more. I hope next time I remember the things I've learned so far.

Next time I might tell Sing. ;-)

"I let you make me happy"

Last week and the week before last the third years (9th graders) had a writing assignment. They don't often write in English, so it was a pretty simple assignment of about 5 sentences about volunteering. We had been studying the grammar point of "a makes b C" (ex: Reading books makes me happy) so that had to include that in their writing somewhere. Not so hard.

There were of course many amusing mistakes and pieces (one guy thought volunteering meant giving money to an octopus so he could buy a soy bean...) but the one that really stuck out to me was when one girl wrote "I let you make me happy." I have no idea how she even came up with that, but it was really funny.

But today I was thinking a bit about life lately. I struggle a lot with negative feelings and the whole concept of love and being loved. I quite enjoy complaining (as all my facebook friends can attest to.) This is of course not very Biblical. (is very thankful God doesn't keep track of negative points right about now...) I had a good conversation with a friend about this tonight.

I am supposed to be in bed right now, but I was still thinking about all these things, like "How do I get better at loving God?" "How do I learn how to love other people?" "How do I accept God's love?" and all of a sudden that phrase popped back into my head. "I let you make me happy."

Wow. Wait, let's think about this again.

"I let you make me happy."

That's the answer isn't it? This works both ways even. This is God speaking to me. "I let you make Me happy." Of course the things I do aren't perfect, but that's OK, God still allows me to make Him Happy. He loves me. He lets me make Him happy. That's grace. Amazing. Humbling. Comforting.

Then it dawns on me. This is also my response to Him. "I let You make me happy." It's so easy for me to get caught up in guilt, to get bogged down by daily annoyances. But freedom is right there. All I have to do is let Him make me happy. Wow. Life isn't perfect, but God's love for me is. He doesn't want me to be miserable. He can make me happy in any circumstances. All I have to do is let Him.

"I let you make me happy."

For some reason, this is just really profound for me tonight. I hope I can manage to put it into practice in my life. I want this to be my reality.

"I let you make me happy."