Friday, March 06, 2009
I have felt a change coming for a long time now. I knew I could not keep up the frenzied pace I was running at, nor did I want to. I would read the words of Jesus that said “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” but every night I was falling into bed exhausted and emotionally drained. I have cried more tears of disappointment in the last 8 months than I have in years. This is not what it was supposed to be like. This is not what I was promised. I had come here to Uganda to love people and start a ministry to these girls who need healing, but every day was breaking me apart bit by bit.
Times like this it is easy to blame God for our unhappiness, our disappointments, our dreams that now fulfilled, are taking the life from us. The dissatisfaction kept growing in me. I know there is more. I know I don't want to live my life “working for God” but feeling far from him.
We can only give what we have received. And I was empty.
I write this as a fellow traveler on a journey. I write this because my life is changed now and I cannot imagine going back to the way I was living.
I know from the outside people look at all the things I've done and think that it must be amazing being me. But very few people know the pain I have been going through.
Somewhere along the way I got lost. And I have to ask your forgiveness for that.
For the last 5 days I have been in Jinja, Uganda at Mto Moyoni retreat center, a place that has been a refuge for me for the last 3 years. Here, along the Nile river, there is peace. But most of us still don't understand that peace is a state of our heart, not a place.
We as people try our whole lives to prove ourselves. We use our ministries, our positions, our possessions, how well we can perform at something, the people in our lives, the places we run to, and the power we are always trying to exert over others to control what we feel is our rapidly unraveling life. And all the while, the nagging feeling that if we stop, if we are just to be, and let God love us, that everything might fall apart. We believe that if we work, just a little bit harder, at our jobs, at making people love us, that we can make “it” happen.
We try to love people as Jesus loved, but we don't stop to do what Jesus did: Which was ONLY what the Father said. Whether we are in America or Gulu, Uganda everybody we meet is extremely “busy.” The pastors here are some of the busiest people I have ever met.
But do any of us know God? Are any of us at peace? Are any of us listening?
When I came to Uganda, I knew that God loved me. I had come to bring that love to others. But I quickly fell into the trap of trying to “do” more so that God and the people back home would be happy with me. I was operating under what everyone else here was caught under—what I now know is an “orphan spirit.” It is an ingrained mindset within most of us where we struggle and strive to make things happen for the approval of others and we manipulate and use people around us so we can accomplish our “passion,” or our “calling,” or our “mission.” And we do it all in the name of doing something “good,” or something “for God.” We believe we have to fight for everything we get and we are easily angered when those around us don't give us what we feel we deserve. Because our societies are so performance based it is extremely easy to fall into this way of behaving.
I read two books in two days called, Experiencing the Father's Embrace and From Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship, both by Jack Frost. Both were about moving from this “orphan” mindset to knowing that we are sons (and daughters) loved by God and resting in that to the point that we no longer have to strive and seek to control our lives and other people. We can rest. But more importantly, we can spend time being in God's presence, talking to Him, listening to Him, and that actually is the best thing in the world we can do.
In ministry it has become so easy to stop spending time with God, for the sake of all the things we feel are “doing” for Him. We put the Great Commission before the Great Commandment and quickly begin to lose our center. The more we do, the more we feel we have to get done. Meanwhile, we neglect our Father who just wants to spend time with us. And it becomes more difficult for us to truly love the people around us.
God speaking this message to my heart, has changed my life. And I know it will change the future for Zion Project too. I am still about healing these girls' hearts, but I can't take on trying to solve every single problem and need that comes to me. And while this work/this ministry is important to me, it cannot be the most important thing. All the pressure I was putting on myself to try and make it better or to grow it bigger so we could “help” more girls is gone now. So if you are tired, or you find you want to run to another place, or another job, or another person because you think it will make you happier—ask yourself if what you really need is a touch of God's love. He is there with open arms waiting for you.
Note: There is no need to be alarmed :) I'm still responsible for the lives of these girls I have taken in and am loving them, but will be seeking God in the next few weeks/months about the future of Zion Project and what God wants it to be. That may continue to look a little different than we thought at first. But the most important thing is seeking more healing so that we might bring more true healing to others. We cannot give what we ourselves do not have. And I know God wants to bring emotional healing to these girls.
I am very excited about the future.
Note: I am working on visa issues so may have to travel out of the country for a few days. You many not be able to reach me by email or phone, so I apologize for the delay and will get back to you as soon as possible.