“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” ~ Micah 6:8
I never really knew what loving fearlessly meant until I was introduced to Haiti and her people. Even after our marriage trial, I still had a wall of protection around my heart. Learning to love uninhibited in my marriage is still a work in progress. It’s leaps and bounds better and great even, but it wasn’t until I took the risk to travel to Haiti that I really discovered the soul wrenching heartache of loving fearlessly in an almost palpable, tangible way.
So what does that mean? For me, that meant traveling way outside my comfort zone physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. God knew what He was doing when I made that little pinky promise with Him when He called us to adoption. When I was researching, I knew that Haiti was still an unstable country after the big earthquake and my immune system was not well. The thought of traveling to a developing country terrified me. Fear of getting sick there petrified me. My “deal” with God was that I would go anywhere, but pretty please don’t send me to Haiti. Ha! That sounded like a challenge didn’t it? He definitely knew how to stretch me and grow me and overcome my fears. He has a sense of humor for sure.
The moment I stepped out of the car, into the compound for the first time, children came running! I was hot and weary from travel … and anxious. I had no idea that my soul was about to be wrecked. There was a sea of little arms beckoning me to lift them up and hold them tight. It was over. I was forever changed the moment I held a sweet little boy with a big smile. Then another and another. Every story, every hug, every tear taught me what I was there to do.
Completely overwhelmed in this moment
There was an incident the first night that was so raw and incomprehensible to me. I could not wrap my head around the fact that here was this little toddler wandering around at bedtime. Do I bring him back to his bed? Where does he sleep? Does he have a bed of his own? What about pajamas? I quickly grasped that there was no bedtime routine. I had taken so much for granted with my own upbringing and at home with my children. The bedtime I knew was filled with calm routines of baths and stories and lots of cuddles. Of course it would look different, but my heart broke. I opened up my heart and let it break. I let those emotions take hold for the moment and I cried out to God to love on these children. He whispered as gently as ever, That’s why you’re here. But Lord, I can’t. It’s too hard. Love my children. Love my people.
Isn’t that we are called to do as Christians? To love God and love others. Simply obey. Why is it so hard? Opening up my heart to love and get hurt over and over again is part of the process. With every trip to Haiti, I learned a little more about her people and her culture. I dug deep and fell hard. I loved His children and I loved His people.
picking up the crying toddler and lulling him to sleep
making new friends
saying goodbye to new friends
bandaging up bloody scrapes and wounds.
listening to broken hearts
not saying a word and soak it all in
being respectful of my role in a foreign land
breaking up fights and drying some tears
playing and dancing with the kids
accepting a gift of a mango from a wide eyed little friend
sitting with a sister who desperately needs a friend
being humbled by the language barrier and opening the door to learn. My teacher was 5. She was thrilled.
I trusted God with my heart and my health while in Haiti. I’ve been spent physically there – feet swollen, unbearably hot, and exhaustion like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I’ve been emotionally spent as I love on people. I’ve been mentally spent when I just need one moment of alone time with QUIET. I’ve been spiritually stretched to trust Him and have faith like I’ve never had before. I’ve been humbled over and over again.
He has molded me into a different person and I am thankful for the lessons. Haiti is another home for me now. One I long for and miss. One where I know my heart will break with something new each and every time I visit. With every heartbreak, He is using that to create something new, something better, something in His image. God is changing me. He invites me to love fearlessly, not just in Haiti, but all the time. The lesson was learned there, but is practiced daily. He’s taught me that by guarding my feelings, I was not open to fully love. By opening up my heart, I risk having my heart broken, but with that comes great rewards and joy.
“Let all that you do be done with love.” ~ I Corinthians 16:14