Written by: Sydney Shelton
I’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip to share my faith with people across the world and expand my limited perspective. In the United States, I have all I need and want. I’ve always had food on my plate, a roof over my head, and a hot shower at night. I don’t know what it’s like to not have enough. I don’t know what it’s like to not have enough money. I don’t know what it’s like to not have parents who constantly love, support, and provide for me. I don’t know what it’s like to live without my cell phone, laptop, and social media. I don’t know what it’s like to eat the same food every day.
And too often, I get impatient. I get impatient when things don’t go my way. I get impatient when my mom can’t hear me the first time I ask her something. I get impatient when I’m hungry. I get impatient when things don’t go according to plan. I expect a clean bathroom to bathe. I expect coffee in the morning. I expect life to go well, and when it doesn’t, I get upset. But John 16:33 says in this world we will have troubles. So why am I so surprised when troubles come? Troubles are a part of life. I should be more surprised when I’m not facing some kind of trial.
This is why I wanted to go to Malawi. I wanted to serve and learn to appreciate all I’ve been given. But God has been doing that and so much more in my heart.
Since we left the Untied States, God has been gently calling me out of my comfort zone. He’s forcing me to relax. As a perfectionist and someone who longs for control, leaving my responsibilities at home is really hard. While many of my teammates had normal fears about visiting Africa (like getting Malaria), my biggest fear was not being able to exercise and leaving the comfort of my schedule. But God has been using this trip to show me how distorted my priorities have been.
I don’t worry about a lot of things, but I definitely shouldn’t worry about the things I do. Worry reveals the idols on my heart... I still idolize my schedule, comfort, and need for control. More than anything, God has been showing me what really matters—Him.
As the days pass, I feel myself slowly letting go of control. I feel like I can relax, release my expectations, and simply be present, in the moment. I’m allowed to enjoy each day and worship God with my teammates and new Malawian friends. I don’t always have to be on a schedule. And when God commands me to be anxious for nothing, He means it.
I had the opportunity to share a message during devotion at the village tonight. For the first time, I didn’t feel the need to perform perfectly. I don’t have to be perfect in order for God to use me. He doesn’t expect perfection, and neither should I. His love isn’t based on me—it’s placed on me.
As I write this short blog post, Blair passes me sitting criss-cross on the couch.
“Still working on the blog?” she asks. “Yep,” I reply.
“Trying to write it perfectly, huh?”
Hmmmm. She’s right. I’m probably WAY overthinking this post—I’m sure you’re not that concerned about my grammar anyway. :)