When you realize God's purpose for your life isn't just about you, He will use you in mighty way. -Dr. Tony Evans
Most of my life I have made my purpose in life all about me. I thought my purpose would be God using my abilities and gifts. I didn't realize that God's purpose requires you to leave your comfort zone and go beyond what you can do alone. For me God didn't just lead me out of my comfort zone. No, I feel like I was a cannon ball being shot out of a cannon.
I am a true introvert. I despise small talk and would rather spend time one on one with people. I usually take time to open up to new people. In my first two weeks here, I have failed and succeeded at being open and getting to know new people. Even in my successes, I feel uncomfortable.
When I first thought about being in El Salvador for a year I wanted to help the teens in the transition program. I really wanted to stay at the girls' transition house. But there wasn't a need at the time. So I decided to trust God and was excited to stay at the mission house instead. To my surprise, the day I arrived in El Salvador I found out I would be staying at the girls' transition house. I was amazed at how God had worked it out. I love when he smiles down upon us in unexpected ways!
I have been in my new home for a week. The language barrier makes it difficult to communicate with the girls at times, so I have been trying to spend time with them. We have listened to music, watched tv and movies, and I was able to share about my nieces and nephews with some of the girls using my limited spanish.
Please pray for the girls in the transition program and that I will be able to build relationships with them.
2 Tim 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self discipline.
To learn more about Melody Bridges visit her page on the WMA website or visit her Blog.
Things have been getting better. I feel better. After being here for 11 months, I think I'm finally finding where I belong in this ministry. For most of my life I have felt like my talents were worthless. I don't think they would find me a job and I've felt like the things I'm good at are very common and not really special in any way. I've been asking God to change me, and he has. My heart is different, my priorities, how I think and view others and I'm still changing all the time. What I never realized is God already gave me the tools I needed to succeed. I just never knew how to use them. I've spent so much time feeling self-hate and frustrated at myself. I never realized I was valuable.
Reflecting on how far God has taken you is important. I believe if the Israelites had spent more time reflecting on what God had done for them, they wouldn't have been so dissatisfied with their struggles. I came on my first mission trip here for a week in August 2013. At that point in my life I was a halfway Christian, barely making it to church on Sundays. While I was here God broke my heart and I made the decision to follow Him completely. This decision required me to completely alter the way I was living. Starting with breaking up with my boyfriend of two years who wasn't a Christian. It began with a long phone call where we both talked and cried for three hours. Since he was serving overseas at the time, there wasn't much I could do about me still driving his car, receiving his mail, and having his stuff in my garage. We worked together when we needed to, but other than that, I asked him not to contact me.
Before the mission trip I rarely read my bible. I was bothered that in spite of being raised in church and going to a Christian school in my elementary years, most of the Bible was still a mystery to me. I made the decision that I would read my bible every day, starting with a chapter a day. I wanted to read the whole bible and really understand what it meant. I also decided that I needed Christian fellowship. After I spent a week serving with Christians I realized what I had been missing by skipping out of all other church activities. When I came back, I signed up for everything I could. I joined choir, Sunday school, college age worship during the week, the sign language group, and I tried to make myself available for every church outing and volunteering activity.
Through these things, God opened my eyes to the suffering of those around me. I made amends with friends I had no longer talked to. People I knew my whole life were suddenly opening up to me about dark family secrets, self mutilation, and thoughts of suicide. I still don't know how to handle these situations. All I know to do is to show up when you call me and I'll talk you through it until 3 in the morning or whenever you're ready to sleep.
Lastly, I felt like God wanted me back here. I told God that I would try my hardest, do the best I could, and He would have to supply the rest. He did. In spite of every failed effort on my part, somehow God made sure there was enough funds for me to live here for the time being. I don't know what God holds for me when I return, but reminding myself of how far He has taken me, eases the fear of the unknown. God is good all the time.
Nosey people get a bad rep.
I don't know why.
I think they're awesome.
Sure, they may ask too many personal questions. They can make things awkward at times. Occasionally, they step over the line and totally offend you... but it's the nosey people in the world who really want to know the answer to this question:
'How are you?'
I once curled up in the corner of a Starbucks armed with a skinny vanilla latte and and a stack of self help books on how to cultivate better boundaries in one's life. Clearly, I was wading through some issues.
I chugged my latte as I highlighted words from a book that probably wasn't going to help me and choked back the tears. Someone, help me, please.
A friend spotted me from the Starbucks' line and came over to ask,
'How are you?'
I dutifully responded,
I looked anything but 'fine'. She knew it. I knew it. Yet neither of us were really willing to engage it. We exchanged small talk for a few moments and then she slipped back into her place, looking relieved that she escaped any kind of awkward sharing that could have transpired.
A half hour later , another friend spotted me slurping down my second latte (this time, a 'not at all skinny' caramel latte) and ran over right over to me to ask,
'How are you?'
This was a nosey friend who persisted,
'No, really... how are you? Why are you reading books on boundaries issues?'
I burst into tears and poured my heart out on the table. She put her arm around me and asked me more questions and finally, I felt free of some the things I had been carrying. Her nosiness invited me to share what was bothering me. The truth is -
If she didn't ask, I would have never said.
We need more nosey people in the world. We need folk who will ask the awkward stuff and help us get to the bottom line of what is really go on. We are far too polite and reserved for our own good. It keeps us swimming at the shallow end of our relationships when what we really need to be doing is taking the risk and jumping in the deep end. It's an awkward plunge but it's well worth it.
My hats off to all you nosey people out there. Don't worry about those haters. You just keep on asking questions, cause someone out there needs you too.
Noelle is a WMA Associate Missionary serving with her family in Northern Ireland. Read her blog here.