one thing about thailand that i am learning is that i will NEVER escape the bugs. never. there are moths in our shower, baby lizards with no tails in our bed room, there are flies on every piece of meet, bees in the fruit, massive cock roaches in the cars, and spiders on the wall. and the gnats.... those are just everywhere. even as i am typing this i have had to swat about 4 flies, 2 moths, and numerous ants. oh yeah, ants too. they're everywhere.
honestly, i dont really mind any of it but the spiders and roaches. i dont mess around with those two. ew.
i'll get to the brokenness at the end. i want to fill you in on some fun things that have been going on here recently first! i am in the process of downloading my new editing software (!!!!!) so pictures will be coming soon!
i have had so much fun with my ministry partner, with the thai's we meet on campus and our team. im surrounded by incredible people. we have gone shopping, break danced with some thais at Walking Street (a massive outdoor market... video or picture coming soon!), taught some thai's how to swing dance, tried more strange food like pork large intestine rings. literally disgusting. we have had some incredible training, learned more thai, found some places to get semi-american food when we are missing home. we had a team night last night and ate at an awesome restaurant. i want to take the owner back to the states with me! he was such a character. after we went to the church and watched Goonies. by far my favorite movie now. i was dying the whole time. how have i lived this long without seeing it?! i dont know.
another thing that has been great is that i feel like our team is finally really bonding. i know we all came wanting to be really close, but thats not something that just happens over night. but over these past 2 weeks, i feel that we have really developed a unity among us. its really such a blessing. i cant speak for the team as a whole, but i know for myself there is no way i could do this trip without every single person on our team. i think each person brings such specific qualities to our team and its really neat to see. its been a true example of the body of Christ to me.
it hadn't been like this the whole time for me though. and this is where the brokenness comes in.
i came into this trip knowing what i thought the Lord was going to work on me in. selfishness. i knew coming in that that is a fault of mine and that i wanted the Lord to teach me and humble me. to preface the rest of this post i need to say- this past semester was not really a good one. i really struggled in my walk with the Lord. i allowed satan to get a hold of my heart and i started to believe lies that were not true. and, since i was not, by any means, consistently in the Word, i was not able to see these lies i was believing. all that being said, i- unknowingly- brought alot of baggage (for lack of a better word) here with me to Thailand.
so, when we first got here, i all of a sudden was bombarded with alot of insecurities that i did not know i even had. ones that i never have even struggled with. insecurities of acceptance. as i began to try to sort through those thoughts- why am i feeling this way? why do i feel like i cant be myself? why do i all of a sudden care so much about what people think of me? - i began to realize that maybe selfishness wasn't the only thing God wanted to work on me in.... my thoughts on that? uh oh.
it wasn't until sunday morning that all of this really hit though. i was able to go to the home of one of the missionaries here as she cooked a DELICIOUS home cooked meal to talk about my first 2 weeks. when we sat down she simply asked how i was doing. i dont know if its because she was basically a stranger, or if it was just the Lord sovereignly working that made me open up- but open up i did. i sat there, for probably way too long and just started in January. telling her everything about my semester and began to uncover things that i have unknowingly been suppressing. i dont think she knew what she was getting herself into when she asked me that simple question! ha.
i never realized what a verbal processor i was. it was like i just needed someone to listen. from start to finish. with all my 'i mean... i just dont know's' and 'well, that didnt make since... what i mean is...' and everything else under the sun as i tried to fumble through what was going on in my head and heart. and at the end of it she asked me one more simple question: "well, abby, what do you think God is trying to teach you about himself through this all?"
that question was the last straw. i sat there and felt like such an idiot. it dawned on me. the thing that i so did not want to admit to. God was breaking me. breaking me of my Pride.
i realized that in almost everything i did within the past semester and even before- there was pride. literally in everything. even the things i thought i was doing for other people, there was some sort of pride in it. wether it be people seeing me and thinking i've got it together, or me feeling like 'oh im a good christian now' or the one i realized was the most frequent, knowing that since i was SUCKING in my walk with the Lord, doing things to make me feel like 'ok i did this good thing so im good to go'. pride. pride. pride. pride. pride. gosh i hate it.
C.s. Lewis is one convicting writer. in his chapter The Great Sin in Mere Christianity (HIGHLY recommend it) he says:
" There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves...the vice i am talking about it Pride."
and later he says:
"according to christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.... Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man... Pride always means enmity - it is enmity. and not only between man and man, but man and God."
there is was. thats it. why have i been so inconsistent in my walk with the Lord? because i thought i didn't need it. i thought i didn't need Him. really abby?! and in realizing that- it was like the flood gates of conviction just burst open. how could i be so sinful to think that way? how could i be such an idiot? who do i think i am? why, God, if i am this sinful am i here in Thailand trying to tell people about Jesus? shouldn't it be the other way around? should people be telling ME about Jesus?
i have been at enmity with you, Father.
Lewis later says:
"the other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. but this does not come through our animal nature at all. it comes directly from Hell. it is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly.... Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices... many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity- that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled, provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride... for Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up every possibility of love, or contentment, or even common since."
i decided to become independent so no one could disappoint me again. i decided to become indifferent so no one could hurt me again. i decided to become numb so truth couldn't penetrate me anymore.
independent, indifferent, and numb. all 100% exclude Jesus Christ. those are a deadly trio for self destruction. and exactly what Lewis said has been true of me. i overcame my 'smaller sins' by numbing myself to them and in turn riding my life of joy, of contentment, and of even seeing truth.
its hard for me to even admit to all this because this shows just how wicked my heart had become. and my pride doesn't want me to let people see that i not only dont have it all together, but that in my heart of hearts- i am unbelievably broken.
all of this is what hit me when she asked me what i thought God was trying to teach me in all this. and what is it?
Gods amazing, unexplainable, never ending, ever comforting, grace.
and as soon as i voiced it. as soon as i said that sweet word, it was like i finally caught my breath. it was like Christian when his burden finally came off his back and rolled down the hill in Pilgrims Progress. i, all of a sudden, realized the depth and depravity of my sin. and in that same moment- i saw the cross in a new way. i saw it as something i needed. not something that was there for me when i wanted it- but something that is breath. and that is life. and that i HAD to have. daily.
Lewis concludes his chapter by saying:
"we must not think Pride as something God forbids because he is offended at it, or that humility is something he demands as due to his own dignity- as if God himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about his dignity. the point is, he wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are 2 things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him, you will, in fact, be humble - delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are... to get even near to it, even for a moment, it like a drink of cold water to a man in the desert."
never have words been so sweet to my heart. i am free. free from the bondage of self-centeredness. i am free to open my heart, to be vulnerable, to be my loud, over-the-top, a bit ridiculous self. finally. i can because i am surrounded by my Fathers grace.
"but by the GRACE of God, I am what I am, and his grace towards me was not in vain."
-1 Corinthians 15:10
the last few sentences in Lewis' chapter say:
"if anyone would like to acquire humility, i can, i think, tell him the first step. the first step is to realize that one is proud. and a biggish step, too. at least, nothing whatever can be done before it. if you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed."
let those words sink in. because when they finally hit me- it made realize the beauty in being in the light. bringing sin out of the dark crevices of our hearts is a painful and almost shameful thing, but when the sin surfaces. what a blessed thing. because it is then that God takes it from us! it is no longer mine that i feel i have to hide, callus up, or lug around. it is when it is brought to the light that the King of Light takes it and says, 'You, my daughter, are free.'
"O mighty cross,
what throne of grace.
He knew no sin,
yet took my place;
His sacrifice on Calvary
Has made the mighty cross
a tree of life to me...
O mighty cross,
my soul's release,
The stripes He bore,
have brought me peace;
His sacrifice on Calvary
Has made the mighty cross
a tree of life to me."
praise God from whom all blessings flow.