Thursday, April 19, 2012

Waiting, Listening, Dreaming

Right about this time last year, I would have been shifting into hardcore fundraising mode. I would be leaving for China in a little over month. And Peru in about two and a half.

I was planning like crazy for Worthday at the Sagrada Familia Orphanage. I was trying desperately to raise all the funds needed to get me to China and that wonderfully magical Big Blue House.

This year is so different. The biggest thing on my mind right now is exams. After that... nothing. I'm not going out of the country. No mission trips. No orphanages.

And, honestly, it's really hard. It's hard seeing all those Facebook statuses and tweets of "95 days until Peru," "47 days until Haiti," and "can't wait to be back at Maria's".

I don't miss Peru or China. But I do miss Carmencita. I do miss Tabitha. I miss the feeling I got in those places. Although, it was more than a feeling really. It was this overwhelming peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment. A resting place. A time where I knew without a shadow of a doubt, "This is where I'm meant to be."

The difference between this year and last year is that last year, where I was meant to be was where I wanted to be.

This year, where I'm meant to be is not where I want to be.

Sure I'm enjoying the break from stress about fundraising, organizing, etc. But I miss being with orphans. I miss feeling so full of purpose.

But, what I misunderstood is that my purpose is not to care for orphans. My passion may be to love special needs orphans, but my purpose is to follow God.

And right now, God wants me to wait and listen. And that is much harder than raising $1000.

But in the midst of waiting and listening, He also wants me to dream. He created me to dream. To see what could be instead of what is. Used at the wrong place and the wrong time, this gift can be used to destroy both me and others. But used in God's way in God's time, there is no limiting it.

My dreams are as colorful as a canvas painting and as far-reaching as the sky. My biggest dream is to create a Maria's in Russia. In the region my sister was adopted from. Evan's Big House of Hope. There, I could take care of all the kids like my sister. I could give them the hope and the love that they are so desperate for. I could be an instrument for God's glory by showing people the beauty of His creations.

Sometimes it seems so far-fetched. Most teenagers want to get married and have a family and a nice house when they grow up. I want to up and move to another country and live in a huge special needs orphanage. Marriage relationship optional (let's be real, how many guys would want to uproot to Russia?).

But I know in my heart that my dreams did not come from me. They came from God. God knows the desires of my heart. He knows where my passion lies. I just have to learn to trust him with it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Flee Immorality

1 Corinthians 6:18 says to "flee immorality."

When most people read or reference this verse, they view it in a context of sexual sin. They use it to safeguard themselves, or encourage others to "flee" from pornography, lust, adultery, premarital sex, etc.

However, in the modern day church, these issues are generally widely addressed. When Christians fall into these sins, they know that they're wrong, and can either fight the problem or find resources to help them. The main factor is that they are aware of the sins and repent of them.

One of the biggest problems I see in the Christian youth population today is not pornography or lust or premarital sex, although I'm sure these problems are very present. The problem I see that no one tries to hide or discourage is causing others to stumble.

When we think to flee from immorality, we forget that it means not only fleeing for our sakes but also for the sakes of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is especially a problem with girls. Tank tops with the bra just visible. Shorts that should really be called glorified underwear. Bathing suits that are skimpier than pajamas. Wearing sports bras to football games.

Ladies, these are stumbling blocks for our brothers. We are so offended when we hear of guys lusting over girls, especially in the church body. But, in reality, we are just as much at fault as they are. If you're flaunting your body, you might as well consider it an invitation for a guy to look at you in a way he shouldn't.

"Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this - not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother's way."
        - Romans 14:13

Ladies, it's time for us to step up. If we're so desperate for guys to be men of God, then we need to act like women of God.

Choose to help your Christian brothers. Every time you put on an outfit, think "Could this be an obstacle for a brother in Christ?"

I encourage you to check out this survey. It has dozens of questions about all kinds of clothing that girls have asked, and hundreds of responses from solid, Christian guys. They tell you what causes them to stumble, what's appropriate, and what heightens their respect for you because you're trying to protect them.

Ladies, if you really want the right kind of guy to like you, dress so he doesn't have to look at your body to find something attractive about you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Painting a Picture Over Reality

I've always been an idealist, a dreamer, a romantic. If I don't like the way things look around me, I create something new. I change it. It's simple.

Or at least, it was.

My method of changing things was usually to remove the discomfort from the situation, or to get over it. If I couldn't move it, I would wait until it was over, and move merrily on with my life.

But sometimes things happen in our lives that we can't wait out. They don't go away in a day, or a month, or a even a year.

Levi's behavior is awful sometimes. He's aggressive, he spits, he doesn't initiate conversation. He's hard. He's different.

There's dissatisfaction. Murmurings and whispers that things aren't as they should be. Anger and tears. But there's also joy. There's also laughter.

But I tend to ignore the bad in my life. I like to remove it from the equation, just like I do with everything else that makes me sad or angry or uncomfortable. Only, its very hard to remove.

I'll go upstairs to my room and put on headphones, playing piano for hours. I'll immerse myself in books to get away from my problems and focus on other people's for a little while. I'll go hang out with friends, trying so hard to put on my old smile, and be the person I was a year ago, but I just can't.

I'm weighed down. I'm sad. I'm tired. I feel lost. I don't know what I'm doing, or where I'm going. And the lack of direction is driving me insane.

But, more than anything, I hate to let on how much I'm struggling, how much we're struggling.

So I paint a picture of my life. Through Facebook, through pictures, through any means necessary.

It's like I've got a camera and I've taken a picture of my life, but I don't like what the picture looks like. So I simply paint over the screen. That way, it doesn't matter what truth the screen shows, I can't see it. I can only see the perfect picture that I painted.

The danger in this is not only leading others astray when it comes to the facts about the trials of adoption and special needs, but also leading myself astray. I'm so used to looking through my painted-over screen that when I put it down and see what's really going on around me, I find I'd rather look at my fake picture.

This teaches me to be discontent, and to live apart from reality. And it's not what God intends for my life or for anyone else's.

Sometimes it's hard to come out of the "flowery fields" that I live in within my mind. It's hard to give up my "Garden of Eden" hopes. But relinquishing those far-fetched, dream-world hopes might just help me to enjoy the reality God has placed me in. And learn to trust Him with it.