Monday, February 3, 2014

Missionary Envy, The Mess...and The Ultrasound

I know this isn't true, but it feels like most of my close friends from college are missionaries now, or at least used to be--out there in the world, making a difference for Christ, helping the poor and oppressed, lifting the downtrodden, translating the Bible into languages that never even had the printed word before...sigh.

You know what I did today?  I made cupcake frosting!!  It had no dairy or soy, and it was deeeeeelicious.  

You know what else I did today? CLEANED UP MESSES. 

Why yes, that IS snot mixed with Frosted Mini Wheat crumbs.  Want a kiss?

Some days I can't help but be a little grossed out by my world.  Bodily fluids and yucky foods, smells, and situations are just a part of life for me.  Wiping up little booties and noses just doesn't feel as (drum roll please) world changing as going to Africa.  At least in Africa, smells and mess and lack of sanitation would have a bit of glory attached to it.  "You endured all THAT for the sake of the gospel?  You must be really strong."  As a mom, you're supposed to just deal with it---and clean it the heck up.

Once, I was having a particularly rough patch of missionary envy.  One of my closest friends had (AGAIN!!) gone overseas.  (My friend-losses to the Missions call were in the double-digits by this point.) We were giving her a small monthly support check, so we got these nifty little newsletters from the missions organization.  One of the writers talked about how stretched he was, about how he was translating one day, fixing a tractor the next, and learning how to build a gravel road the day after that.

 (I was still wearing the same spit-up covered sweats from three days ago, and hadn't left the house in a week.  In that moment, I would have given ANYTHING for that kind of variety.)

The  ended the article by telling a little story about a missionary doctor who approached him.  He only read French and either Afrikaans or Swahili, and the author could read English and French.  The doctor had just received an ultrasound machine--but the instructions were in English.  Not only that, the doctor had never even heard of an ultrasound before!!!  So, the writer ended his day by training a doctor in how to use an ultrasound machine

Seriously? Seriously. 

I felt like the most useless person on the face of the planet.  I spent all of my time pregnant and breastfeeding and cleaning--and this guy was literally saving the lives of women and their babies, just by knowing two different languages. 

At least, I felt that way until I had another ultrasound.  Suddenly, I imagined being a fly on the wall during that missions conversation: 

"Um, this is a probe."

"...and this is a probe cover."
"...then, apply a lubricant to the probe.  No, I'll explain that in a minute..."

"...then drape the patient's knees to give her some privacy.  No, it doesn't make any sense to me either.  Then you insert the probe here..."

"Well, then you look at the screen, and you can see the actual baby!!  See, there's the heart, lungs, brain...look, it's waving at you!"

Long, long ago, I loved an album called "This Beautiful Mess" by Sixpence None the Richer.  I realized that, regardless of whether I was serving God overseas, or serving my kids here in my own house, we were all living in a Beautiful Mess.  Our callings weren't always going to be easy, or comfortable, or worthy of a slide presentation at a church missionary tea (gross...) but we were all serving the same Lord. 

I don't have missionary envy any more, but I am taking steps to make sure that I'm doing what God called me to do every day.  Sometimes that includes yucky stuff, like snot and diapers and dishes caked with gluten-free cajun chicken bits.  Other times that includes guitars.  Today, it includes trying to encourage you--God didn't assign you a ranking based on some mythical Missionary Awesomeness Scale.  He loves you, and He will use you exactly where you are.  

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