Monday, February 3, 2014

The Week My Life Ended

As many of you know, for the past 10 days Mr Manlove and I have been digging toes in the Caribbean sand and sipping Pina Coladas while applying SPF 70 to our pasty torsos. It was both the best and the worst week of my (and possibly our) lives. Really it had nothing to do with the sunshine, the lack of crying babies, the missing ever-growing diaper bag, the 24/7 available ice cream-steak-ROLLS-pancake-pizza-pasta-BUTTERED ROLL-lobster-CROISSSANT-pineapple-ROLL- goodness, or anything else vacation related. It had to do with a revelation. Or what I might call THE revelation. Starting the night before we made our way to a warmer part of the world, I started reading ‘7’ by Jen Hatmaker. And then my life was ruined.

I need to back up for a moment to tell you that I suppose all of this started years ago when I started asking myself :
‘Is this all there is to church?’ ‘How have a grown up all of these years here with the God-loving people and I just don’t feel that different than the average person?’
‘Why are we “lucky” in the top 1% of the world and yet all I can think is – This is IT?’
THEN my brother and sister in law had to go and rescue 8 African girls from slavery and live with them ( then I read '7” then the YOUR LIFE AS YOU KNOW IT IS OVER happened.

Then the tipping point –‘7.’ This book is by a woman whom I wish was my best friend (check yes or no, Jen? ; )) who did 7 social experiments over the course of 7 months. Each month had a theme such as – Food- only 7 food ingredients were apart of her nutrition for the month. Clothes- She chose 7 clothing items that could be worn for the month. Each month was a fast of sorts that made room to consider those who had little or how life would be different with less.

I have been fortunate to grow up with a father who is passionate for the children of the world who live on little to nothing. He is conscious of the clothes he purchases because he told us of the small wages that were given and the dangerous conditions in which they were made. He lead student mission trips to parts of the world where people are generally afraid to go. So I received more perspective as a child than most American children do. I CANT UNDERSTAND how I missed it.

Many of my friends know me as the ‘girl who doesn’t cry.’ I just don’t. I always tell Mr Manlove I cant go to a therapist because they may hold the key to opening the floodgates and I refuse to be one of those blubbering women. Turns out Jesus, through Jen Hatmaker held the key. I have sat blubbering numerous times this week because now I understand.
I understand what Jesus meant when he said “Feed the poor.”
Straight from other book by Jen- Interrupted (and some of this she was quoting from  various sources- but I did check the stats on other online sources):

-40 % of the world lacks basic water sanitation
-Americans consume 26 billion liters of bottled water per day
-WE spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all goods combined
-8% of the rest of the world owns a car
-1/3 of all American families own 3 cars
-Roughly 40 million people (the equivalent of about 7 Jewish holocausts) die annually from starvation, disease, and malnutrition
-65% of US adults and 15% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese

That last comparison got me. I AM HITLER in that situation. I am allowing many people/children to die while I own fake eyelashes, a big photo printer I don’t use, enough clothing for a village, 16 lipstick/glosses, shoes I haven’t worn in years, EVERYTHING. I’ve never missed a meal, the most uncomfortable I ever am is if I am forcing myself to diet or have to go to the bathroom after getting comfortable in bed. OH, sometimes my toes get cold. One time I even go the flu AFTER getting the flu shot. 

I have mocked the ‘granola’ moms of the world who go on and on about recycling and gardening- Can’t we talk about the outfit choices at the Grammy’s instead? I have patted myself on the back for giving to our church PLUS supporting a Compassion child. I have considered adopting an orphan and then greatly doubted that God would provide the funds to do so. BUT I KEEP BUYING CRAP. I eat around the brown spots on the bananas. I throw things away because I get confused on weather or not they are recyclable or not. Have to remove the label first? Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

It is not even a ‘we will try to be better’ moment. I not want but NEED to make big changes in our lifestyle for it to reflect our faith and compassion for others around the world. I will stop worrying about if I will ever get my dream trip to Paris and start worrying about who does not have clean water. Who is broken. Who is homeless. Who is –WORST OF ALL- hopeless. Who doesn’t know that there are Christians who get it but not enough yet to overpower the ignorant ones. YES, I said that. I refuse the be the ignorant ones any longer. I refuse to have luxuries. I can’t. I will not die- I might have a few pity parties. BUT I THINK I WILL BE HAPPIER. 

If the 8 girls in my brother and sisters house in Ghana smile, then I best put on a brave face and smile. I now cry many tears of joy because my dear Jesus, I finally understand: less of me = more of you. I finally understand that loving my neighbor does not mean give a little to them and take a lot for myself. I finally understand I don’t have to feel deprived in the face of American culture. I finally understand that I may not have been apart of the few people who ‘enter in the narrow gate.’ I am not saying that you are not getting into heaven if you don’t agree. I am not judging you- only myself and my choices. I AM saying that Jesus says to follow HIM and for the first time ever, I know I am. I know I am seeing.
I plead with you to no longer accept the lies we tell ourselves (satan tells us) in America- “I worked hard for this,” (so did the kids that carried their own water a few miles for the day) “I deserve this,” “I tithe so this is acceptable spending,” “I once gave a McDonalds giftcard to a homeless man,” “God has blessed me this way."

I always thought I was unchangeable. I thought I was hard and jaded and that I would never be one of those people who would get to that side of ‘the joyful abundant life” people talk about. It’s because it is not about me. Now I know. My entire world view has been reoriented. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jen Hatmaker for having a soft enough heart to learn this lesson and to share it with me.
To my friends – if you see me blubbering, it is happy tears. And if you see me giving away my coffee you might want to call a mental health professional. If you see me, give me a hug. I am not stupid enough to think that this will be easy. I am stupid enough to make the jump. 

Mrs Manlove