Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pride in Africa

So I have to admit… I didn’t have the best possible attitude leading up to my time in Mozambique. I was scared of stepping out of my comfort zone. I was afraid of the creepy crawlies… and the bigger stuff, too. I was nervous about traveling to that part of the world. I was unsure of my decision. I was a little upset with my husband for encouraging me to go. I was a little upset with God for not stopping me from going.

This mission was hard and scary and inconvenient.

It was about 24 hours after we arrived in Mozambique before I realized how proud I had been. This wasn’t hard and inconvenient. Nobody (including myself!) should be patting me on the back for making this “sacrifice” of going on this mission. No, this was a privilege. It was an honor to be allowed to be part of that team. Who am I that God would use me? Why should I get the absolute privilege of seeing a whole different part of His creation, of sharing and bonding with these beautiful women that He made? He is the God of the universe and He could have chosen anyone? Why me, especially with my crummy attitude?

I also realized that I had been prideful in my preparation. I had come in thinking that I was just going to be a fabulous teacher and God was going to use this to add to my repertoire of experiences and stories to use in future teaching/speaking opportunities. And as I sat in that teaching hut, it hit me how completely and totally self-focused I had been, and how very very very much this was NOT about me.

Unfortunately, God had to kind of hit me right in the face with it, in a bit of an embarrassing way. Our teaching sessions were 2 hours long, which is approximately 1 hour of actual teaching since everything has to be translated. On our first day, my teaching partner Carmen took the lead in the morning, and I was “on” for the afternoon. Before we started that day, I told Carmen that my greatest fear was that I would run out of stuff to say after about 25 minutes. I wish I had held my tongue. I started teaching at 2:00, and at 2:15 I realized that I was ¾ of the way through my outline. While Sonnet (our translator) was talking, I glanced at Carmen in an absolute panic and mouthed, “I’m almost done!” It was exactly 2:25—yep, 25 minutes—when I got to the end of the material I had prepared… and my mind was completely blank. I had NOTHING else to share.

But Carmen, God bless her, took right over and did an amazing job of making it up as she went… and it all fit perfectly. Perfectly. I could almost feel God tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Katy, this is my show, not yours. I will provide the words, but you have to stop taking the credit or I’m going to take it away for you.” I was humiliated, but also truly humbled. I realized that I wasn’t there because I was so great. I was there because God was allowing me to be used by Him, to be part of the work He is doing there in Mozambique.

And guess what? That truth isn’t limited to Africa. No matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing… it’s not about me. (Is it just me, or does this sound familiar to anyone else? I am so darn hard-headed.) God doesn’t need me. He doesn’t think, “Oh thank goodness Katy is here—I wouldn’t be able to do it without her.” Ha! No, it is quite the other way around—I can’t do anything without Him, and every time He calls me to serve… it is an honor.

Once I found my proper perspective, the whole experience was different. My eyes were opened, and I was able to see Him and worship Him in a whole new way. The beauty of His creation, the love He has for his people, the way He is willing to work through us—because He loves us and wants to include us in His plan, not because He needs us. It was overwhelming… but in a much different way than I had been overwhelmed before. It was overwhelming in an indescribable, beautiful, amazing way.

Finally I was able to truly serve, the way He had intended for me to serve from the beginning. And the more I did, the more humbled I became. I served lunch to the women and church leaders who had come to the teachings, and it was an honor to do it. I realized the sacrifices the women were making to be present at the teaching—taking time away from the hard work they do just to survive—and I was humbled. I made a complete fool out of myself trying to dance with them, and I loved it. I held their hands, held their babies, held them up in prayer, and I was blessed. There was no more room in my heart for pride—it was too full of love.

1 comment:

Carmen said...

Aw! Katy, I miss you! What is it about teaching on "humility?!!" Thanks so much for sharing your heart. You're right... God doean't "need" us, but what a privilege it is to serve. I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to share that time in Mozambique with you. AMAZING! Thank you, God!