Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Danger of Normal

It officially feels normal here.  I don’t know when this happened, but life does feel oh-so regular now, and it’s kind of nice.  I feel like I know what I am doing here for the most part, and we’ve had a more even mix of good, hard, fun, and bad days. 

But now, I am afraid that the normalness of it all is desensitizing me.  And this can’t happen.  It is one of my biggest dangers/fears of being here. 

I’ve been physically fought against, bitten, cussed out, spit on, and completed disregarded by these kids.  I will admit, they have hurt my feelings from time to time, and some days I have been moved to tears.  Humans hurt one another, and love is hard to find in these times.  While I don’t use the specific weapons they wield, I do have methods of hurting those around me (just ask my family… :]) .  I don’t always put these weapons to use, but I will confess that I have wanted to fight back with more than one kid while being here. 

I have seen the spiritual battle in ways that I never have before.  I am remembering more and more in these hard moments that the kids are not the enemy.  I can’t fight them, their flesh and blood, and successfully show them a better way.  I am reminded that my job is not only to show them a better way, but to actually show them the Best Way. 

My fight is not with them but with the spiritual forces that manipulate them with lies.  I am learning that the only way to defeat the king of lies is to flood his spaces with Truth and Love.  And how am I able to share these essential things if I don’t first fill myself with them? 

It is hard to admit that I have worked shifts feelings completely empty of Love and Truth, but it is true.  I was really struggling with spending my down time in the Word and filling myself with His Truths and Love for me and all of us.  I was tired and spent and sad and mad (which is a big reason that I have not had words to share in a blog post for the past couple of weeks).

But God is faithful through it all.  He gently reminds me that I am no different than these kids.  I screw up, sin, hurt others, believe lies, and fail.  But He died for this muddled soul……He knew that we would be messy, and He chose us anyway!  He loves, pursues, and fights for us.  He not only cares about our hurts and disappointments, but He feels them too and offers to carry them for us!  He is always patient, faithful and true, and no matter what we do or what Satan tries to accomplish, He never changes.  He is perfect Love. 

Not only does He show me that I need His grace, but He has also been giving me His eyes for these kids.  They’ve been through hell.  I don’t usually use such strong language, but it’s true.  These kids have been through more than anyone should, and while it doesn’t excuse their behavior at times, it does help to explain it.  But I was becoming desensitized to it all!  And I just can’t do it anymore. 

Desensitizing has been a form of subconscious defense on my part.  If I don’t care as much, if I make their stories and actions “normal”, then I don’t get hurt as much.  It has been said, and I have found it to be true, that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather apathy.  Hate is at least a strong feeling towards something, but apathy is the lack of any feeling or care at all.  And not only is it ineffective for my time here (and life in general, really), but it is actually harmful. 

I want to love well.  I want to make a difference.  I want to show Jesus. And all of this is impossible if I become desensitized to the hurts of these kids and to the things that they do through their hurt.  I can’t do it anymore.  I want to feel things fully, even if that means getting hurt worse.  I’ll take it, if it means that I loved to the best of my ability. 

God has not only been humbling me in showing me that I am no different than these kids in their issues, but He has also been showing me that they are filled with beauty, gifts, talents, and value.  And how are they to believe this themselves, being all that they’ve been through, if I can’t help them see it.  It takes lots and lots of prayer and patience and more prayer, but it is worth it. 

The sum up: God has been really humbling me lately.  I have crud to work on too, and I am here to show Him to these kids.  I can’t show them what I don’t have.  I need more and more of Him daily. 
This post wasn’t fun to write, but I want to give you all a real picture of life here.  Unfortunately, I am a much more natural pessimist with life, but I plan to share some of the great stuff with you guys too, next time.  Thanks for sticking with me, encouraging me, praying for me and the others, kids and staff alike, and just loving me.  I know my ramblings get long, but thanks for allowing me the privilege of processing.  (Shoutout to Jewel for reminding me that writing is indeed a gift and therapy :])

Until next time, friends.  Keep loving hard and well. 

Fun facts:
-        Reading stories in Spanish to kids is hard, but so fun when they actually get into it also. 
-        The new “Black” moccacino  Magnum icecream bars are the BOMB.
-        Mango peelings hurt my lips and make them puff up mucho. 
-        The other volunteers are AWESOME and have been such a blessing in my life, even if we don’t get to see each other that much.  I cherish them and our 5 minute chats.  Shoutout to Briana, who is my much better half here. 
-        Avocado milkshakes exist, and the world is a better place with them. (yes, I realize I eat a lot here.  It’s one of the happys in my life :])