7. Be slow to become angry.
“In your anger do not sin.”
One of the biggest things I have learned in the past seven months is that nothing is worth getting mad about. I sometimes get mad about everything. When a guy says ‘hi’ to me on the street, when someone is blaming me for something I didn’t do, when it is too cold in the office, when someone steals my stuff, when I can’t see Dutch television due to restrictions of rights, when someone is late at a meeting… the list goes on and on. And when I am mad, I say things that I will regret later. My aunt always says ‘every behaviour has a cause’ and that is something I live by now. Maybe the other person had a bad day, maybe I am the only one to project their anger on, maybe I did something wrong and I should appologize, maybe I am wasting my energy on things I can’t control anyway. I recently read a blog about the book Healing of Anger by Tim Keller. In this book he writes down this simple question: What am I loving so much right now that my heart is moved to feel angry? “If you ask that question,” says Keller, “if you do this analysis, more often than not you’ll immediately be embarrassed because many, many times the thing you’re defending is your ego, your pride, your self-esteem.” So in the past months I have learned to not be angry right away but to look at the situation. “In your anger do not sin”, it can’t get any clearer than that.
6. I am not in control of my life.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”
How often do you make plans and then everything turns out differently? For me, my life has been turned upside down and inside out since I first arrived in Guatemala. This trip was meant to just be a nice, useful way to spend three weeks of my summer, but now I find myself in a small and cold office in the heart of Guatemala with the hope to return soon after my graduation. When I started studying I thought I would work for television or a big newspaper and I would never even have expected all this to happen to me. Some people know exactly what they want to do in their life, but I don’t. When people ask me where I see myself in five years, I won’t have a clue what to answer. I don’t know where I am in five years, not even where I am in six months! I’ve been robbed, I’ve been sick, I’ve had lice and I’ve lost people back at home, there is nothing in my life that I can control. But the Lord can. And I’ve learned here to completely surrender my life to Him and the most beautiful things will happen.
5. I am a beautiful person.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Although this might sound horribly arrogant, I mean it. During my time here in Guatemala I have learned to love myself more and to see that I am capable of many things. I mean, who would have thought that the girl who was forced to go to self-defence classes would end up far out of her comfort zone in Guate? I am capable of living in a different culture, I can learn a new language if I want to and I have no problems anymore with talking to people. And there are so many things I can do that I am not even aware of yet! I am starting to see I actually am beautifully created by God and I am only dishonoring Him by thinking I am not.
4. People are more important than things.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”
One major life lesson! I don’t want to bring up the ‘oh, I got robbed’-story agaaaain, but looking back on my seven months (!) here in Guate, I can say that it has been one of the best and most interesting things that have happened to me. God showed me in a very clear and direct way that I had to let go of things, because things are not as important as people. I ended up with nothing, but the people around me were so important at that moment. No passport, no creditcard, no computer, no camera, no chargers, no backpack, nothing. But God replaced all of that with an army of friends and family, a new family, my parents who did everything they could to help me, colleagues who gave me advice and helped me with all the paperwork, my churches that wanted to raise money for me, people who lend me their backpack and computer. Being robbed is not the worst thing, being alone is. You can buy everything you want in life, but you can’t buy the people around you. I am sure that without all these people I would have gotten on the first plane back home. As soon as I got my passport back.
3. Every life matters.
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”
(1 Corinthians 12:14)
I have recently read the book Kisses from Katie by Katie Majors-Davis. It is an autobiography about her life in Uganda and how she lost her heart to that country and the orphans there. I got hooked on the book as soon as I read the first page, where my eyes met this amazing piece of text:
“People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they are satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes will add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.”
I think I have written this before, but what if the person you help is the next president of Guatemala, a life-saving doctor, a strong politician or a pastor who brings a whole community to Christ? Every life matters to God, so every life matters to me. Maybe you are willing to help one person more than the other, but you never know what plan God has for that person’s life. And maybe He wants you to be part of that plan. So help wherever you can. Every life is just as important as yours.
2. My writing skills are given by Him and He can use it.
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
(1 Corinthians 12:5-6)
I have always loved to write. I remember I wanted to be a poet as a kid and that my little poems were always on the fridge. My highest grades in high school were always in languages and when I could specialize in Writing in college, I took that chance with both hands. And now I have my own blog and I get to write stories about my life here in Guatemala, but the most important thing is that I have my own space to write about what God is doing in my life and I hope to inspire others with that. The more I write about God, the more I get to know Him and the more I see the things I have learned about Him here. The hardest thing about being a Christian at home is that it’s not part of the culture anymore, so a lot of people don’t understand. But here in Guate you are an outcast when you don’t want to have anything to do with God. I feel at home here as a Christian and the people around me inspire me every day. And you know what happens when I am inspired? I write! I write to make His name known and to show His incredible work every day and I hope He wants and can use it for His glory.
1. He has it all figured out before I know it.
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”
My second dad here, Phil, always says: “Don’t worry, God has it all figured out.” At first I didn’t understand that, because I wanted answers now. But every time I worry about something, God shows me time and time again that it is a complete waste of time. I always worry about school, but I have never had an F in the past four years of college. I was worried I would never go back to Guatemala, but look at me know. I always worry about nothing and looking back at the things I worried about in life, I see that everything went perfectly fine. The plan God had all along is slowly being revealed to me. With God, there is nothing to worry about. He has it all figured out.