I think God might be messing with me. Two days after writing in tears about my gradually emptying nest, I got a request from a friend to take a trip with her. To Southeast Asia.
This summer a group of my friends, some just starting out and others, like me, with a bit more "experience," read a book together by Jennie Allen called Anything. The book is an accounting of what led her and her husband to pray the prayer that she says unlocked her God and her soul. The prayer was simply, "Anything, Lord. I'm in."
It was interesting for our group to discuss, because the group was composed half of young women preparing to leave the nest, and half of women whose nests were emptying. To a woman, we were all on the cusp of a monumental life transition. All of us were asking, "what am I supposed to do with my life?"
"Anything" is a prayer we all would benefit from praying, but most fear, because telling God "anything" means He could ask....well, ANYTHING, and most of us are pretty comfortable. As comfy North Americans we tend to think in self-preserving terms, fearing that if we surrender and say, "anything," God will ask us to give things up or do something really big. Big as in sell-your-home-and-move-to-Africa big.
I honestly thought I was pretty down with the whole "Anything" concept. I had just the year before gathered some activist runners and put on a virtual 5k to raise money for an organization I love called She is Safe, and was ramping up for the second annual. Not huge, but out of my comfort zone.
It's a funny thing about stepping out of your comfort zone. It often takes you even further out.
Like to Southeast Asia.
I have to confess, my first response was not, "ANYTHING, Lord!"
More like, "ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!"
You have to understand. When I think of adventurous travel, I think Europe, or at least a country where I have an inkling of a chance at communicating--at least the same ALPHABET for heaven's sake. I mean, I went to Haiti during a cholera outbreak and political rioting, but at least they speak some French there. And it's in the same general hemisphere. My mental awareness of the globe sort of stops at France.
Also, this would involve flying over LOTS of open water--and I get panic attacks on a paddle board.
Truthfully, I have a plethora of really good reasons to say, "Not this trip."
Like justifying spending $2500 on myself--right before Christmas--when I've got two kids in college, every vehicle has 200,000 miles on it (and we don't do car payments), my students are sliding together down to the ends of our lopsided couches, and my sweet husband is working is tail off trying to make it all happen.
And speaking of my husband: His job takes him out of town half of every month. We live on a farm, so going while he's gone means leaving the farm without a farmer, but going while he's home means giving up the precious little time I have with him.
Oh, and then there's that little section of the travel planning pamphlet that addresses their policy for hostage situations. I'm reading about how they'll handle the unlikely event that I get taken hostage--and just the other day I was telling my daughter's friend about how I AVOID LEFT-HAND TURNS if possible because they are more dangerous. What's wrong with this picture?
Still...every single objection I have can be summed up in this equation: Guilt + Fear = NO
But I have been pleading for over a year with people to please give a darn about the plight of women and girls in parts of the world where they are treated as commodities or burdens. This is a chance to go and see the beginning stages of the creation of a Transformation Group that could impact generations of communities in the areas we'll visit.
I'll have an opportunity in a tiny way to enter into the lives of women and children living in extreme poverty who earn money by separating out recyclables, and maybe, just maybe be able to communicate to them that in them I see dignity, value and the fingerprints of God. It's a chance to see with my eyes, feel with my heart, touch with my hands, and then share with my words.
Plus, the fact that it seems so impossible makes it a just little irresistible. What kind of God story might this be if God makes the impossible possible?
Here's the great thing about "Anything:" I am realizing (at least at this stage in the game), I don't have to say, "Absolutely" to this one thing just yet...I simply have to say, "As You wish," and surrender it to Him--come what may.