25 October 2012

A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 25} ~ a gal from England

I remember her from when we first arrived in Niger. I'd see her and her husband from time to time at the Rec Center pool. I liked her... from a distance. Especially that first year here - I was feeling much more introverted and insecure than even was normal for me. But I was also a little jealous (she's beautiful, tall, thin, had a pretty amazing life and ministry and seemed so put together)... and quite intimidated (probably for all the same reasons). So I'd greet at the pool and then very mildly seethe inside because she seemed to have the good life and seemed to be the kind of missionary I'd always envisioned myself being...

They lived up north, in country, and worked with a mysterious, reputed to be fierce, and often romantically depicted nomadic people group. They seemed to be integrated into that community, a part of the lives of the people there, involved in projects to actually improve the quality of life, and sharing the one and only message of hope.

...so, maybe I was more than a little jealous.

I don't remember when they left... or when they came back, exactly. I just knew that their lives had changed dramatically - and that they planned to continue in ministry up north, where they'd been before. What was the difference? She and her husband were now parents to three really cute kids - a set of gorgeous twins and a sweet little blonde baby girl.

We immediately had more in common... kids, some even close to the same ages! Additionally, their family apparently loved the pool at least as much as ours did, so my path began to cross hers a lot more frequently.

As we chatted around the pool, I learned that the life she led way back when, when I found myself struggling with envy and jealousy, was not at all what it appeared. During that time, she suffered and sacrificed in ways that I can't imagine. She might tell you differently if you ask her what was in her heart, but as I heard more of her story, I heard sorrow and moments of anger and frustration, but never bitterness or self-pity. And I thought she was beautiful before! Glimpsing these hints of her gentle yet still feisty spirit, I discovered her all the more stunning. I also began to discover some ways, at least on the personality level, that we were actually quite alike.

Soon, they took off up country. Now, as a family, they were living with their people group, even spending "nomadic" time, a foreign family not only adopting but embracing an incarnational lifestyle, hoping, once again, to communicate the message of hope. She  also embraced her role as mama and teacher; she home schooled, seeking to meet those educational needs of her three one-of-a-kind kiddos - a task already difficult enough... without the unique challenges of trying to do so in her one-of-a-kind circumstances.

I know her heart was broken when she and her husband discerned that it was time to return home. In some ways, she was living her dream... and now she was needing to let go of part of that dream. I know she misses her Niger life, longs to come back and wonders about possibilities of maybe someday.

I don't think she's not grieved. But her gentle and quiet welcoming of a very different that what she sought out life... and seeing (via technology) God grant new-dreams-coming-true in a new place, a new future... seeing how joyfully she and her husband raise those lovely children, the experiences they are carving out for them and the memories they are making,  how they are moving forward instead of moaning for a memory and looking back

I used part of this quote from an on-line friend just the other day, but it seems every bit as appropriate right here, right now:
"But I’m still learning that what we set out to do may just be the dream God uses to get us where he wants us all along. ...following Jesus is never neat and pretty and safe. It rarely involves great fanfare, but typically leads to greater brokenness." 
I'm thankful. 

For once again, the Lord has used a real live friend to flesh out the truth of 1 Peter 3.3-6 for me, giving me something to grab and hold on to as I try to let God mold a gentle and quiet spirit in me, the type of spirit that is so valuable to Him.

A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 14} - pictures of gentleness
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 15} - Multitude Monday ~ all Greek to me!
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 16} ~ she came from the Land Down Under
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 17} - Walk with Him Wednesday ~ How did you answer my question from last week?
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 18} ~ that fictional frontier lady who inspires me ~ 
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 19} - Five Minute Friday ~ Look 
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 20} - should not come from
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 21} ~ Why do braids, gold and fancy clothes matter?
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 22} - Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts - Today I'm thankful for the word INSTEAD...
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 23} ~ three missionary heroes I've never met... yet!
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 24} - Walk with Him Wednesday ~ the "Czar" of our yard

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