Already an eternity ago, our time in Texas was a time of delving into the foundations of this organization. We immersed ourselves into the Word of God, into who God is, what he wants with us, and how much he loves the poor. This is a very simple concept, but also deep and complex.
The complexity comes from our own humanity, our own perceptions of God. There is the God he describes himself to be, but there is the “God” as we are able to understand him. My level of engagement with the Bible, my experiences with people who say they love and care for me, my reactions toward others who profess Christianity, and the fact that I don’t lack financial security all contribute towards my understanding of God. This picture may or may not look anything like Him. Either way, the way we view God determines how we represent God. Self-awareness is important.
That’s why we had opportunities to examine our own stories in Texas. We were given time and materials to think about how God wants to use us within a large international organization like Mercy Ships. God uses us, even with our flawed understanding of who he is, to complete his work on Earth.
|After leaving Texas, a portion of my team in South Africa practicing what we learned.
Photo Credit: Katie Keegan
I left Texas changed after being confronted with my story. My story doesn’t look the way I want it to.
I’m 25 but I’m not doing what I love. Yes, I love nursing, and I’m so glad to be serving poor communities through Mercy Ships. Yet, I’m not satisfied and I know there’s more to me.
What about my love for writing and for creativity? What about my love for dance and foreign language? What about the way I love to shop secondhand and buy brightly colored clothes? What about my passion to organize events and lead small groups? What about the rest of me?
I graduated from college almost 4 years ago with a nursing degree and those other interests got shoved to the back, undeveloped and dusty. The focus goes towards my adventure across continents, but just because I’m obedient in one area, doesn’t give me a right to disregard other talents he gave me.
While learning fact upon fact about God, Mercy Ships, and cross-cultural service, I heard God telling me about me.
I heard God tell me,
“You are a storyteller. Don’t hide your stories.”
“You are a leader. Don’t make excuses.”
“You have the power to inspire others, just by being yourself.”
I heard God so clearly, and I knew he was right about me. I heard his whispers throughout class, but I heard him shouting through this quote that begins, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…”
This is a popular quote and I’ve heard it many times. It’s quoted in Coach Carter and often misattributed to Nelson Mandela’s inaugural address. It’s actually by Marianne Williamson and it was the end that got to me:
“…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Inner power isn’t actually about me. It doesn’t have to be egotistical. It’s really about living freely as who God made me. Others recognize that. They start to wonder if there’s more to them too. My freedom from fear gives others liberty to be who they are. Then it becomes a revolution!
I always wanted to be a revolutionary and I can do it just by being myself.
I’m still learning and working through what it means to be myself. Some days it means I wrap my hair. Some days it means I dress up on a Saturday. Last month it meant I performed this poem to my fellow crewmates on the ship.
There are still days when I don’t feel myself, or I try to control what others think of me, but I’m so grateful for the lesson I learned in Texas. I’m so glad I heard God so clearly tell me about myself.
What has God told you about you recently?