But mingled in with that excitement is very real, very big, ugly fear.
I have never hidden the fact here that I am a big, fat, fraidy cat. I have mentioned it over and over. Fear is one of the biggest sin issues in my life. It crippled my walk with Jesus Christ for most of my life. I battle it daily. There are a lot of reasons why I could be scared to go on a mission trip. I am leaving my three children behind (one of whom has severe special needs and has only ever been left over night once since bringing him into our care), I am flying across the ocean, I am going to be exposed to parasites and diseases and filth, my comfort level will be shattered, I will see things that will haunt me for the rest of my life, my level of comfort in my American Christianity will again, no-doubt, be questioned, I will be sleep-deprived and emotional, etc. etc. But, oddly enough, none of that is what has my heart pounding in fear. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that missions and spreading the gospel is God's will for every single disciple of Jesus. I know that He is asking me to love Him more than my children, and get on that plane, and go to Ethiopia. I know that this stay-at-home-mama needs her routine shaken up a bit in order to be used to advance the kingdom. I am at peace with all of that.
I have been praying over this trip. I have prayed for God to change me, to mold me more into His image, to allow me to be used for His kingdom, and I have even been praying those words that I so earnestly prayed last year before going to Ethiopia the first time. It was easier praying that prayer last year, before I understood the depth of the pain and hurt that comes with God answering that prayer.
God, break my heart for the things that break yours.
But even as I pray those words and prepare my heart, I have been holding onto a little corner of my heart - trying to hide it and keep it safe.
Because I am scared that it may really happen. I am scared that God is going to break my heart all over again. Just when things are settling into a more comfortable rhythm with our family, just when Habi is on the verge of possibly joining our family, could I really go through any of this again? I am scared that God may have another "Jamesy" or "Habtamu" in mind for me on this trip. And as much as I love those two boys with every inch of my heart and would never trade a second of knowing, loving, and fighting for them, I'm not ready to have my heart broken for another person. How can I possibly shed another tear for another fatherless child? I am afraid that my heart cannot take it again. I am not sure if I even want my heart messed up again. I am so sensitive and tenderhearted. I still have nightmares from what I witnessed a year and a half ago on my first trip to Ethiopia. I was not cut out for this kind of stuff. God gave me the gift of empathy, but that gift has morphed into something out of my control these past three years. I am not certain that I want to make myself look like more of a weirdo, or lose friendships over my intensity, empathy, and passion. I'm kind of ready to just fit in again, but I guess even going on this mission trip as a mommy of three littles takes me out of the running of fitting in. That's just not something most responsible mommies in my kind of church do. Teenagers, sure, but mommies?? Somewhere along the way I have turned into someone very abnormal. I am not sure how that happened to this perfectly contented to be, once upon a time, wallflower.
Even as I write this, I am getting more clarity, as I finally put these rambling thoughts into words and they flow from my fingers, I realize that this whole fear thing is wrapped tightly up in self. This has nothing to do with me. My response has been all wrong. What if God had decided that He did not want to "mess up" His own heart? What would my life look like if God had not loved me when I was so unlovable? What if He had said, Enough, I cannot take it anymore. It's too heart breaking, too messy, to love one more person.
I am not a hero. I am not a rescuer. I don't have a "white man burden" or savior complex. I can never save the world or even just all of the fatherless children. I know that, and it's not my job. I am not even a good Christian or so spiritually mature.
I am just a shy, fearful, cautious, homebody, stay-at-home-mommy, who was shown the deep, deep love of Jesus. And that love is moving my feet - clumsily at times.
And even if it breaks my heart all over again - it's not about me. I don't want to miss out on what really matters in this life. I don't want to miss out on God's best for me in exchange for something really good. Even if I am made an outcast in the mommy circles. Even if it hurts, and is hard, and costs me and changes me in ways that are uncomfortable, and yes, even if God has in mind for me another "Jamesy" or another "Habi", it is the right thing to do. It is right to make my heart vulnerable to whatever and whomever it is that God has me going on this trip to Ethiopia for. Because this is not about me. This is about advancing God's kingdom and bringing glory to God!
So, I am doing it. For now, I am doing it scared.
But I'm doing it.