When I was in the states I worked in non-profit development. In this field, like many others, my progress was always measurable - usually by how much money was raised from a gala, golf tournament or luncheon I was responsible for planning. The gala was usually on a Friday evening at a swanky hotel, and I’d work there from around 7am that morning until 2am Saturday morning - from set-up to break-down. I was kindly given a hotel room so I could “sleep in” on Saturday morning, but never did because without fail, at around 6am on Saturday, the dings would be begin. The email ding, the text message ding, the phone ding - usually from my chairperson, supervisor or board member - all with the same question: “What’s the final number?” The success or failure of all of our hard work on this event was measured by this number. This is what was reported to the board, written in press releases and subsequently printed in headlines in local magazines and newspapers. It also determined if the programs we offered to those in need would be funded or not. THE final number. I’m sure at your job, you have a similar number - how many accounts, how many attendees, - how many, how many, how many. Our resumes are filled with and our careers are defined around measurables like these.
When I look back over the last year here - outside of the number of times I’ve cried or been sick - I cannot truly measure much and that used to bother me. Over and over, I found myself reaching for this invisible, indescribable goal or prize - that would somehow define success for me. It wasn’t necessarily a number, but this standard I had set for myself based on what I perceived others had set for me. (Have you ever done that? It’s really not worth the energy.) This was made all the more difficult when in December, I was led to resign from my sending organization.
The Lord was calling me to “more” but it sure did not feel like it. I was resigning but could not give an explanation as to what I was moving on to or even with. The process has not been easy and I can admit that at times I missed the ease of my “old life”. Yet, every night at 7:00pm I am assured that I am exactly where I am supposed to be when I make my way onto my roof to pray and see this reminder:
Time spent integrating into another culture; building relationship and trust with locals; listening and learning needs before attempting to meet them; sharing in the joys and sorrows of everyday life; sharing my home and being welcomed into others’; stretching the limits of what I deemed to be my personal space or my things or my way and surrendering them to the Lord; time in prayer begging for direction and discernment; placing myself in new and uncomfortable places and situations, etc. These things can’t be measured.
When I began to measure my success by God’s standards and what He has called me to do, things began to look differently. I can look back now and see how everything has been working together for my good and for His glory all along. I am now doing things I was once fearful of or timid about. My Spanish is improving and relationships are growing deeper. The Lord has planted some initiatives and ideas in my heart and as He’s watering them, they and I are growing. (I hope to share them with you all very soon!) I haven’t seen and cannot report back the results, the final numbers, the measurables - but I see the process now and that is what I value. The process is the prize.
For years, the first thing I’ve said upon opening my eyes each morning has been “Thank you Lord”. In January, after returning from the holidays, I sat up in my bed on my first Monday morning as a newly independent missionary and added “Okay, what now?!?!” and have been doing so ever since. Sometimes He tells me what do with my hands, but many times He tells me what He wants to do in my heart.
It is incredibly easy to call ourselves going and doing and working for the Lord and completely miss the work that He is trying to do IN us. Every single yes, every single step of faith, every single time we cry out “Lord! This hurts, but I still trust you”; every single time we feel like spiritual warfare is going to take us OUT, but we fight back - every. single. time. - we are brought that much closer to the Lord. This, my friends, is the prize. The testimony, the intimacy, the time, the growth in the knowledge that every single thing the Lord said about you is true, is the prize.
With much appreciation and love,
Su Hermana en Christo/Your sister in Christ,