Here is a photo taken while I was at the beach around 2011, which is around the time I wrote this short blog and poem. It is crazy to read this and remember exactly where I was when writing it. Physically, I was on my bed in my old apartment. Emotionally, I was depressed and striving to trust God but very up-and-down. Spiritually, I was seeking to follow after the Lord but was also living a double-life and deceived by the world and some of its pleasures.
I was quite a creative writer and a great poet! This gift God has given me feels like it’s currently hiding under a couple of layers of mommyhood, LOL! But it’s great to be reminded of this part of me, which I know God can and will reawaken in me as I continue to plug along with little baby steps and obedience to writing just a little bit per week.
I hope this little blog post encourages you. For some of those who don’t know me from my past, I have not always been where I am now. My past looks very different from my present. But God has made so much beauty out of my story, and I know He also wants to make your life His beautiful masterpiece!
As I’m lying down on my comfortable bed, with a flannel pillowcase caressing my check, outside city sounds drowned out by the white noise of my fan, and my still body is snuggly underneath a cozy and warm blanket that almost matches the color of my nearby and ever faithful doggy companion, Bracey, my restless mind evades sleep. In the last hour or so, my mind has managed to jump from one line of thinking to a vastly different one.
I can envision the analogy of a character riding on an old-fashioned train who realizes he is heading in the wrong direction. I can imagine the musical background score becoming dramatic, and before he even thinks twice, the character leaps onto a new train heading in the opposite direction, whose tracks were temporarily parallel to the first train’s. But only after switching trains did he sit and think about what just happened. And that made him kind of stultified for a few moments. Such was the sort of mental journey I just went on.
I was thinking of various people in my life and allowing myself to covet the monetary wealth they’ve been entrusted with. I was thinking of their accommodating lifestyles and how vastly different their day-to-day and long-term choices look from mine, and I was feeling frustrated by it.
I, too, want to taste of the world as often and in as many ways as I choose. I have a hunger and unquenchable thirst to meet everyone I can, interact with various cultures, and see as much of the world as I can take in—this side of Heaven. I also deeply desire to give away more and help more monetarily. I desire to go to any concerts and cultural venues and social events I desire without having to pick and choose based on costs. I long for the financial security that comes from having a double-income family or a husband whom I can count on who will ‘bring in the bacon.’
Then, along this line of thinking, I started wishing I count participate in a mission trip this year, after having recently learned about one my friend is going to be leading in June. Knowing it’d not be likely feasible for me to be able to do so this year led me to feeling quite sorry for myself. But thank God, that’s when the other train started approaching from the other direction… and quite loudly, I might add.
I started thinking about the people my friend’s about to be ministering to while he leads this mission trip. And I started to imagine some of their faces, tattered clothing, and beautiful faces and smiles that make them more beautiful than any of the glamorous Atlantans I may see on any given day. Some of these people are so poor that they’d think I live as a princess. I started to think about my warm pillowcase and the quiet solitude of my bedroom. And then I started to realize, for the umpteenth time, that like beauty, wealth is in the eye of the beholder.
Then, while continuing to chug-a-chug along this new line of thought, I started to consider the History Channel documentary I watched earlier this evening entitled “Dark Ages.” I started to think of all of the thousands upon thousands of lives that were lost in Constantinople during the Bubonic Plague, which I learned killed 1/3 to 1/2 of its citizens in less than half a year! I began to contemplate that I could have been one of those persons who would never even receive a marked grave.
Choo-choo!… Next, I thought about the glory of the Roman Empire and how its Western side was defeated by a group of barbarians—and just like that—life as the Romans had known it was over. Rome’s great riches and power and name was never to be restored, and those born into the aristocratic and plebeian classes, alike, had to fend for even their most basic needs in order to survive.
I have a love/hate relationship with moments like this—those ‘aha’ reminder moments—when I’m once again reminded of my place and position in this world. The reality is that I’m deserving of no good thing. The reality is that I am far more fortunate than most people on planet Earth today AND throughout history when it comes to the luxurious lifestyle I’ve been afforded to partake of. The reality is that it is not up to me to contend with my Maker by acting like a spoiled brat who wants more.
The reality is that the very One I pray to owns it all: every dollar, every stock, every rupee in India, and every jewel that has yet to be discovered from historical antiquity. My eyes have been fortunate enough to see the slums of India, Bangkok’s Golden Palace, “squatter camps” in South Africa, pristine ferries in Hong Kong, the eccentricities of Hollywood, and the architectural masterpieces in Moscow’s Red Square. And every last inch of those places belongs to my Father.
My Father does not pity me in comparison to my friends who’ve been entrusted with more wealth. Nor does my Father think more fondly of me than his beautiful children in Haiti—whom my friend will soon be serving—who likely take no gifts for granted and who probably don’t even have an adequate understanding of how poor they are deemed in the eyes of the world. If they are like some other precious children (and adults) I’ve met around the world who don’t even have a penny to their name, they are not weighed down with the love affair the rest of us tend to have with ‘stuff’ that always leaves us wanting for me.
I’ve been once more humbly reminded that all the world is the Lord’s, and we are his, too. And he does not demonstrate his love or our worth in how he dishes out physical blessings. He gives according to what we can handle, but also according to the unique story he is writing in our life, which is necessary for the completion of the Master Story he’s creating. Our Father knows what he is doing, and we can trust him and his provision in our lives.
“May I? Will You?”
May I lust no more after trinkets and gold
May I envy not my neighbors with wealth untold
Will you pour out Your gift of joy, Lord, to my soul?
Will you cleanse my hands and warm this heart that’s cold?
May I cease to compare the gifts chosen for me.
May I gratefully accept and trust you with my needs.
Will you pour out Your gift of healing, Lord, to my heart?
Will you cleanse my desires and revive me in every part?
May I covet not my peer who’s been given more than me.
May I never look down my nose upon those deemed “least of these”
Will you remind me until it’s engraved on me: the mystery of the cross?
Will you lovingly rebuke me until I count all other things but as loss?
May I dance around as a thoughtless child?
May I hold my head high and sing aloud?
Will you make me as beautiful as one who loses herself in Thee?
Will you make me a worthy daughter whose hope in found in her King?