Sunday, August 21, 2022

Paper Cuts and Jesus

 It's Sunday morning and I am sitting on the roof of a building overlooking what is either the Nile or Lake Victoria.  The humor in it is I should know which body of water is staring right back at me... and well, I don't know 100%.  And I guess it doesn't matter.   The wind is blowing cautiously.  There are three donkeys roaming around just below me eating their morning treats and the roosters are trying to prove to each other that the sun is about to come up.... too bad for them that they are all wrong and the sun has actually been up for hours.  

My feet are propped up and it is very clear that my toes need some serious love and attention.  I'm hoping that tomorrow when I go to Kampala, there will be a pause in the agenda and I will be able to get my feet cheese-grated and painted... and while that's happening... hopefully my fingernails will also be worked on and I will once again feel a bit more.... well, maybe put together.  ( :  

The place where I am right now is called Prayer Mountain.  And it's interesting to read the history of this place.  This mountain used to be the mountain where witchcraft doctor's worked and trained the next generation of witchcrafter's.  About 7 years ago, it was claimed by a Christian couple who have turned it into a place of respite and reprieve for any who need to connect with Jesus and to be cared for.   I've been checked into a small room named "Goodness" and my heart has slept, inhaled, exhaled, and quietly connected with my Jesus.  I've also had time to bring my fingers to paper and process this thing called life with the Author of my life.  It's been deeply needed and I suspect that He has more even in this day for us to process together.

And this is where I am.  Late yesterday afternoon, in half gest, but not really, I asked God if He would consider sending an angel to come minister to me.  I so desperately wanted a physical presence.  My heart was weary and I was beyond exhausted.   And instead of an angel, a deeper sense came to me that it was God Himself who wanted to minister to my heart.  To be with me.  And He did... and He is.  

For those of you who know me closely, I rarely walk away from what is in front of me and that's not always a good thing.  And this season has been a season of many needs and not so great intentionality on my part of being filled by God consistently as I face what is in front of me.  It's best to just be honest than paint an inaccurate picture.

Earlier this summer, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and has been undergoing both chemo and radiation.  Thankfully, Josiah and I were able to be with my parents the weekend that he got the official diagnosis (God-ordained timing).  I spent just under a month in the States where God and I did some deep heart work and then I returned to Uganda at full speed prepping for a medical outreach that has been in the making for months.   The outreach was amazing..... it was deep in the village and over 2,000 individuals received medical, dental, and/or vision care.  We had a room set up as an Emergency room, multiple consultation rooms, a laboratory, a fully functioning pharmacy and a "tent" that served as our HIV counseling pre/post testing area.   

So. Many. Opportunities. 

        To. Love. 

             To Do.  

                 To Love. 

                     To Do. 

                      And I wish I could say with integrity so many opportunities to Just Be.    

                           But Busyness and my flesh left me not making enough time to "Just Be" as I should have.  

I forgot about the paper cuts that come with serving.  Call it ignorance or something else, but I forgot the internal shaking that happens when you find yourself looking at a 19 month old baby girl weighing in at 6 kg... or a 5 year old boy who weighs 9 kg.  Lack of food being the main cause.  Momma's who cannot provide more and have been watching their children waste away for months.  Seeing a young woman who is a social throw away carrying a stone for self-protection exposed and a frequent victim to violence at all levels.  Touching her hand and giving her biscuits and seeing a smile break on the corner of her lip... and wishing so deeply that more can be done.  The list could go on and on and on.  

Those of you on social media have heard about 11 year old Grace.  A sweet girl who waited patiently all day the first day of the outreach to be seen....she was bumped in the line and it was clear she needed more care.  We brought her to the hospital where we were promised she would receive blood that very night.   She didn't.  Four days later, she was discharged.  Yes, she had gotten a blood transfusion... but as to what else wasn't super clear.  What was clear was that she could barely lift her head.  Her condition was critical.   Our head doctor was able to secure an ambulance.  We met it in town and Grace was driven with lights and sirens into Kampala.  As she sat and tests happened more slowly than my heart would have preferred, more of the story came out.  Grace and her two other siblings had been given presumed poisoned porridge 3 years prior.  The siblings fell sick, but recovered.  Grace did not.  Last check of her creatine was just shy of 13.  Thankfully, she has started dialysis.  Movement and conversations are happening.  

A seemingly impossible task.... BUT not impossible.  

And the truth is each of us find the paper cuts.  Anytime our hearts are turned to what God has for us in a given moment, the risk of paper cuts are present.  To engage fully is to experience.  And while I don't want to speak on theology, I will say that I think the paper cuts are (or can be) inevitable.   Feel free to process that with me if you have a different take.  I'm still chewing on it myself. 

I didn't (and don't) like the paper cuts (if that is even what one should call them), but I wouldn't trade them out.  Because, in the absence of the paper cuts, I would have missed out on rubbing the head of an elderly man scared by his difficulty breathing and pounding heart.  I would have missed out on getting a glimpse of a smile on that young woman as somehow she knew, even for a few minutes, that SHE mattered.   (I won't lie... I saw her smiling from the side mirror as she walked away just looking at the biscuits).... or the little boy who was brought in gushing blood from his eye and nose....the tenseness in that room palpable and the safety of all at high risk (though later absolved)

What I continue to realize or maybe better said, what I am continuing to learn is what to do with the paper cuts.   A small paper cut here is manageable... 3-4 a little uncomfortable... but when the number or depth of the cuts reaches a certain amount... no amount of personal strength or resilience can silence the pain or the effects of the paper cuts.  

The cuts need attention and they need care. 

And maybe even deeper is the realization that even with one paper cut, I need to do a better job of leaning into my Jesus.  Letting Him show me the cuts in my heart.  Instead of letting them accumulate.    And so I've been leaning my head back and just inhaling and exhaling.... sometimes whispering to Jesus about the cuts and sometimes letting my heart somehow share.  And sometimes, He's showing me the cuts I don't even realize are there.  I don't exactly know how it works... but pausing and being with Him is helping.  

I'm not a big throw out a Bible verses kind of gal.... Don't get me wrong.... I LOVE my Jesus... I just know sometimes when verses are given to me without a lot of rootage or connection, they can sometimes feel a bit insensitive or trite....  and yet even as I type that I know there is Power in His words.  

And yet these Words, grabbed my heart today... and since it's my blog.... I guess I'll write them to myself.  If they bring encouragement to your own heart, then be gifted.  And maybe,  if you find yourself sitting in your own pause with Jesus about paper cuts,  He will whisper something different to you... a different passage or a different nudge.  I don't know... BUT what I do know is that He is respectfully stubborningly faithful.   And He wants to help us with our paper cuts.  And I'm also learning that it's often helpful to look at the paper cuts after a LONG, GOOD nap! 

Isaiah 41: 17-20

When the poor and needy seek water,
    and there is none,
    and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them;
    I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,
    and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
    and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
    the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
    the plane and the pine together,
20 that they may see and know,
    may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
    the Holy One of Israel has created it.