He guards you always

20 October 2010

A Pilgrim Song
I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
   No, my strength comes from God,
      who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

He won't let you stumble,
      your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
   Not on your life! Israel's
      Guardian will never doze or sleep.

God's your Guardian,
      right at your side to protect you—
   Shielding you from sunstroke,
      sheltering you from moonstroke.
God guards you from every evil,
      he guards your very life.
   He guards you when you leave and when you return,
      he guards you now, he guards you always.

Psalm 121 {the message}

Hoarding regret

04 October 2010

Today we spoke about our life and work in Ireland to a church that has supported us immensely for the better part of a decade. I love talking about Ireland. I love sharing the names and the faces with old friends who really do care about what's happening on the other side of the world. It makes me smile, swells of love fill my heart, and I think, "Yes, it really is worth it."

Of course, talking about Ireland and the past two years there brings about a couple of other feelings too. There's homesickness, of which I've already written about. And then there's a good bit of regret. You see, there were hard times (shocking, I know!). Days we questioned the task and the job and the God who brought us there. There were some roles we were given that didn't seem like a good fit from the start and which may not have been handled the best way possible. At the time, I was sure we were handling it the best way possible. And I was also sure that we were being wronged in some way, not given a chance, belittled and denied. Even on this side, I see that in all likelihood, we were wronged a bit. But we were not blame-free. And with that last realization, comes the regret.

This type of regret clutters my life. I have it in almost every distinct era in my life. I look back on a time, see all the crap I left behind, bunch it all up and brood about it, and then I shove it into a dark corner where it awaits its moment of reveal. This usually occurs after a random memory eeks out or a name is seen on a mass email or a slight comment is made by an acquaintance. It's as if a used candybar wrapper from 1982 has slipped out from behind the (stuffed) closet door and mocks me for a long-gone moment of failure.

In reality, I know that with experience, comes teaching, and with teaching, comes lessons, and with lessons learned, comes wisdom. And with wisdom, comes spiritual maturity. So on the whole, I can't help but praise Him for those experiences and teaching and so forth. But still, I can't help but cringe when I really look back and take stock. I wonder why I can't just love perfectly all the time. I yell at my pride and tell him to take a backseat next time. I look to God and say, "So I guess I'm still a mess... so how exactly do you plan on using me?"

On this side, I know that His plans are perfect, even if I am not. And in that not-so-perfect experience, I have learned and grown (even if that growth wasn't witnessed by anyone). I see that He didn't mean for us to be in that exact place forever, or even very long. And if the birth of the wee lad hadn't given me an easy out, I would've clawed my way to freedom anyway. What I can do now is stop hoarding regret. I have to clean out and give away the should'ves and could'ves. In the clutter-free zone, when there's nothing left to mask or hide my true self, I may even have to accept that I'm not perfect - and no one else is, either. 

And I can hope for grace... so that when we do return and run into that old crowd, we can smile and talk and forget about all that rough stuff. Come to think of it, I better start practicing that grace straight away. Grace would be a good thing to hoard.