I like to think I’m significantly impacted by important experiences in my life.
In 2004, I took my three youngest daughters to East Asia for three weeks to work in an orphanage. I wanted a chance for them to encounter a culture different from theirs. One not so privileged. It was incredible working with those children alongside caretakers who were kind and gracious.
We came home, deeply affected by the challenges they faced every day with limited resources and more children being added all the time.
Appreciation and gratitude lasted a few weeks. Then all four of us gradually dropped back into habit patterns of wants and whining.
This wasn’t the first time I’d been committed to seeing a change in my behavior and attitude because I’d been struck with the truth. And my own limitations. Great intentions for the short run. A slow devolving into attitudes of entitlement after that.
I’ve just returned from two weeks in the Middle East where I had the privilege of serving with other women to encourage those who’ve been called to serve long-term overseas. Missionaries, medical professionals, government workers. Women who had left their homeland to live in a culture not their own.
Their gratitude amazed me.
Wanting them to feel special, we offered a variety of things they might not easily experience where they live. Words of encouragement, pedicures, massages, haircuts, helping people better understand who they are, exercise classes, counseling. Everything from pampering to being available to just sit and listen. We even had a birthday party for all of them, with gifts, hats, and cake for those who missed home-grown parties. It was one of the most magnanimous events I’ve been involved with, even though I do much of the same thing with my job.
We encountered women who needed a safe place to just be themselves. Talk if they wanted to. Be quiet and alone if that was their desire. Genuine fun without expectations. Doing for someone else without expecting anything in return. Giving without considering what I was getting out of it.
I got more than I bargained for.
I made new friends. I watched women who were hurting have a change of countenance after being cared for and seen as worthwhile. I engaged in conversations that were encouraging for them and me.
I saw hope emerge in so many faces.
Coming home, I need time to consider the lessons I learned. Understanding how I choose to live in light of other’s needs around me.
I don’t want my wants and whining to win the day.
Jesus tells us to love one another as we love ourselves. To freely share His heart of hope with others. It’s that attitude that allows us to be gracious, forgiving, understanding.
The kind of winsome attitude that puts a smile on the face of others as they feel safe and loved.
I don’t want this trip to be a flash-in-the-pan kind of adventure. I want the hope that Jesus gives me to be the foundation from which I live every day.
My wants and whining won’t help me or anyone else.
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