Just write for yourself. It’s what I tell myself, sitting on the couch on Sunday morning. I put my headphones in, attempting to block the sound of Haitian church and screaming singers. Just write for yourself..
And so, I do. Free from the weight of expectation or the fear of judgement, I spill myself onto the pages of a worn-out journal with blank ink.
It is hard to know what to say and how to write an update. There is a part of it that I love.. almost really, need. Because it’s in the words scrawled on paper and the letters typed on keyboards where He meets me, again and again. He whispers the things He has been trying to tell my heart a thousand times.. but it’s here, away from the busy of the day, that I finally listen. Here, where I finally pause and let His words sink in.
I find my perspective renewed, my gaze reset. I find myself amazed at the goodness of the Lord and the works of His hands, here in this place. And I also find myself deeply convicted and ever-challenged to be more of Him, and less of me.
Haiti is a country I struggle to put to words. There is a sort of beauty here, in this land where children run the trash-littered streets, laughing and happy. You see it on the hike up the mountain, as you climb above Limbe -with its noise and trash and smog- until your gaze falls upon mountain tops and growing pineapple plants and rusted tin roofs. It’s in the morning sky that turns shades of pink as the sun brings the heat of the day. The beauty, when you choose to find it, breathes hope.
But in all honesty, it is hard to see the beauty here. It does not come naturally; what comes naturally, is just the opposite.
All around me are a hundred reasons not to hope. Hatred, anger, jealousy, pride, and selfishness surround the little life we live here 3 months at a time. And those same qualities sometimes enter that life more often than we would like to admit. Such displays of darkness are everywhere– both great and small. And it wearies a heart.
I can see it on the streets, where men cat-call and people bicker loudly. I see it in the eyes of the half-starved elderly, who sit in the house near the market. I see it in my own classroom, where anger has such a deep hold, three-fourths of the class wouldn’t talk to us for nearly the entire week. And just when you wonder how there could be any more, you see a facebook newsfeed full of more mass shootings and news headlines and friend arguing against friend. Every day, the reasons to lose heart stack higher and higher.
Desperate, I look for somewhere to hope. Surely in the Bible class our kids are doing this year. Or maybe in the older generation of kids. In the boy with the snazzy wheelchair that makes him grin ear-to-ear, and in the way his legs bounce (actually bounce!) in his jolly-jumper. Or maybe in that one-tooth wonder, who always has a big grin and a warm
and sticky hug for you.
But I find that those things, in and of themselves, still disappoint.
On Sunday morning I scrawl the words of Isaiah 40 onto an index card… those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. I find myself overwhelmed by verses 25-31, pausing to remember Who my God is. I’m humbled, my eyes opened to the way I fail to lift my head to the One who brings out starry hosts and has no equal.
Why do we so easily forget Who we belong to?
I pray the words of Isaiah 40 over and over, desperate for them to take root in my life. Teach me to hope in You. Show me what that looks like, in any season or any land. I want to know that life promised in Isaiah 40– the one where His people soar on wings like eagles, where they can run and not grow faint.
It’s been almost a week since that Sunday morning, and the corners of that little index card are just starting to turn up. I’m not quite sure how to get there, to that life of hope in Isaiah 40. Somehow I think it’s a work He has to do, in His own timing. But in the meantime, I’ll start here– in remembering Who He is, and what He has done.