Sometimes we think of transformation as a sudden thing, like a spontaneous burst of light, whacking us silly and thrusting us into a better way and day.
And sometimes it is.
I pick my plate and fork up, and take them to the kitchen where some of the students are washing dishes. Dinner is over. I set them down and leave.
But often, changing to become better and stronger and weller (invention mine), is a process.
In the student lounge, where lots of folks hang out of an evening, bursting into unified chorus sometimes, depending on who has the guitar, and watch movies and answer emails on the profusion of laptops that sit like open envelopes on laps all around the room, in this communal place of fun and food and noise and our own private back homes I sit down and attempt to capture the idea of process in words.
Process takes many forms.
These funks we get into, where we cannot see the forest or the trees. Where the ceiling seems so far away and our prayers seem so feeble and wingless. When our sound is nothing but pathetic and endlessly finite, when we simply crave something supernatural.
This business of developing muscle is not hard to understand. I lace my shoes in the early morning, trying to beat the sunrise, hoping I’ll get to watch it mid-stride, breathing heavy and crying sweat, as it comes up over the Pacific like a ball of torch.
But spiritual muscle?
Praying for something and not seeing instant results?
Speaking English and needing Spanish. Panicking and telling normal people crazy things in Spanish, like I don’t speak Spanish. I’m sorry. But my wife does.
“No hablo espanol. Lo siento. Perro mi esposa habla espanol…”
Yes. I said that to a nice Mexican man. A neighbor.
These things are not really a big deal. By themselves they are hilarious stories, or lessons in supplication, or a lingering bad day. But all together, heaped up with one another, they are a mosh pit of small difficulties that I daily feel guilty for struggling with. For not being good at.
I am in process.
Learning Spanish, learning prayer, learning joy.
My heart is in the right place. I want to help people. In Jesus name.
But it’s funny how we can set these things up like goals, and in reality they can become idols. We can think that the goal is the only real pursuit, and forget the good things He wants to do in us too.
We forget to be real.
We forget about relationship.
For a few weeks, there in late October, early November, while you all waited for glorious stories of how well our family is acclimating to this new way of being, I clawed for my old normal. I whined and complained through sickness, through sleep deprivation and uncomfortable living conditions and constant noise. There were plenty of good things happening, but I was stuck.
I stopped seeing the adventure. I confess to you that I started to dwell in the old land of not enough.
We can forget the good anywhere.
I struggle with this kind of memory loss constantly.
I shrugged and dismissed the whole miraculous summer that brought us here. People helping us with prayer. Encouragement from random places. Solid encouragement from all directions. Funds to pay for plane tickets and living expenses and food. New friends galore. Crazy ways that we were helped along the way. The inspiration that our journey has brought to others who clamor for more and better and stronger and what we were really meant to do with our hours and days and years.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
Sometimes, we fail to wait patiently for what has been promised.
Lots of times.
And then, if you’re like me, you spend a fair share of time beating yourself up about it.
I didn’t cope. I didn’t wait patiently for help. I continued not to cope. And not to wait. Ad infinitum. We become our own self-fulfilling prophecies, and then the judge and jury.
So this is what I’m doing with this post.
I’m coming clean.
No pretense. I’m not as strong as I thought I was. But I’m not weak. I’m going to stop beating myself up about the things I haven’t been good at.
It’s okay if you think I’m a wimp. Maybe I am. Maybe it’s not so bad to start there.
God is good. Mexico is beautiful. And painful and ugly and needy and potent.
And I am in process.
Our family is doing well. My kids are more resilient than I. My husband more willing to eat gnarly meat and drink things with particles floating in them. All of them can handle sweating all day, not doing enough schoolwork, eating unhealthy food, diarrhea.
I am learning to wait on the Lord. To be strong and take heart.
The daily struggle is the process to transformation. All these small annoyances and interruptions and confusing shortcomings are actually gateways for glory.
Christ in me, the hope of glory. Col 1:27
We have been here for 65 days.