”The hardest places to leave are the places God leads us to. Because those are the places where you are shaped and molded into a new person. Those are the places where your heart expands, your minds open to new perspectives, and your eyes begin to really see.” –Environments of Grace
My focus was so narrow before Iraq, I wasn’t able to see how much bigger the world was than my itty bitty bubble of a life. My world centered around me, my private school education, my “faith” based pedastool and my yearning to be perceived as a “good” Christian girl. I had no idea my perspective was so off. I loved the Lord; I loved people; I loved serving. I really thought I had it figured out. I thought I knew what it was to be a Christian; I thought I truly knew what it meant to follow after Him.
But I didn’t.
I made things so complicated when it came to Faith. I was a Pharisee, putting so many rules and restrictions on what being a Christian was suppose to look like. In my naivety, a person of faith was suppose to look a certain way, walk and talk a certain way. I condemned those, though not realizing it, for not fitting into my guidelines. The qualities I attributed as necessities of walking with Christ had WAY more to do with my West Texas-itty bitty bubble of a culture and WAY less to do with what it means to follow Christ. It’s like a veil was taken off my eyes and I realized how much more complicated I was making things than what God had intended.
Living overseas taught me how to love people better, even when they’re difficult to love. It taught me how to live in community instead of pushing away when things get difficult. It made me realize that others think and view things completely different based on where they’ve been. And that understanding the way a person thinks and views life is the key to helping them understand the love of Christ. It made me not want to settle into a normal life living the American dream. And it made the old aspirations of what I thought I wanted in life dim in comparison to how HE could use my life. Living in Iraq made me realize how crucial it is to depend on the Lord and yearn after Him and how scary it is when you don’t.
I DEFINITELY haven’t arrived. If anything I’ve realized now how much I will never completely understand about the Lord this side of heaven. How much I have to be dependent on Him because I know absolutely nothing.
There are days I miss that country so much I can barely breathe. My six months in Iraq were HARD. That time was exhausting. Painful. Draining. Stretching. Uncomfortable. Maturing. Humbling. Joyful. Exciting. Revealing. And full. I’m humbled that God was so incredibly gracious enough to me to take me half way around the world to shape and mold me into a new person, expand my mind to new perspectives, and open my eyes so that I may see. How great is the Father’s love that He would take me halfway around the world so that I can know Him better?!?