Hello, Internet. Welcome to my Comfort Zone.
It’s a cushy little place, with soft pillows and high-speed internet access. The remote control always works, and there is always a Diet Coke from Sonic just around the corner.
Not too much is expected of me in this Comfort Zone. I know my way around quite well–I’ve spent most of my life here, in fact. No mosquito netting is required, no special immunizations are needed, and for the love of Pete, no children are ever hungry. Or orphaned. Or afraid.
And so it was, a couple of months ago, that I was having a fairly leisurely morning in my Comfort Zone, checking my e-mail, munching my breakfast and listening to some cable news. A nice and cushy and comfy morning. Just like always.
And then a little e-mail popped up on my screen. It was from Compassion International, the highly-regarded relief agency that works all over the world. I’d known of them for years. We’d even been planning for a few months to sponsor a Compassion child–we just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
But they weren’t asking me to sponsor a child.
They were asking me to go to Africa.
They’re taking a team of bloggers to Uganda for ten days in February, to live-blog the relief efforts going on over there. And would I like to go?
I forwarded the e-mail to Hubs. My solid, logical, ever-rational Hubs, who never makes an emotional or impulsive decision. I just knew he’d agree with my assessment that this was a huge impossibility.
Except that the minute he got my e-mail, he called me from his office. "I think you should go," he said immediately.
"Yes," he said, "and I think you should go. Let’s talk about it tonight."
I wrote back the Compassion folks and told them their offer was very kind, and I’d need to pray about it and talk with my husband.
But instead, I started making a list of all the reasons this wouldn’t work. And there were a lot of reasons. I’m a mother of four kids, for Heaven’s sake–who on earth would check their backpacks if I went trotting across the globe? And I’m terrified beyond words of flying, even going just a couple of states away. Flying across the ocean? Alone? And I know there are many, many people doing very heroic and brave work in Africa MUCH more demanding than what I was being asked to do, but I am not at all one of those heroic and brave and adventure types. Not at all. And did I mention there are lions? And airplanes? And that the only international travel I’ve ever done was going to Cancun and staying across the street from a PLANET HOLLYWOOD?
I did actually pray about it, and a surprising thing happened. All the reasons I couldn’t do this began to fall away one at a time. Friends and family eagerly lined up to help with kids and logistics. It turned out I wouldn’t be going alone–Sophie was going too, and she promised to faithfully coach me through the bazillion hours on the airplane. The passport and immunization stuff was do-able. The reasons not to go kept falling away until there weren’t any left.
Well, there was one left. It was the one that had been there, sitting beside me in my Comfort Zone for a really long time.
I’m not sure I want to be changed that much.
My well-intentioned ideas about sacrifice and making a difference are well and good, but those things are easy to say sitting in your carpeted, air-conditioned living room with your well-fed children. I’d be going to Africa specifically to see the vast and overwhelming need there, so that I could in turn write about it. We’d be going out into the villages, and the hospitals, and the orphanages.
A person doesn’t see something like that and just stay the same.
To make a very long story (sort of) short, the last two months have been a time of wrestling with some ugliness in my own heart, not wanting to admit how dependent I am on being surrounded by loveliness and convenience. And let’s just say it: I’m afraid. I’m afraid to fly, I’m afraid to be away from my family that long, and most of all, I’m afraid to see the kind of suffering I’m going to see. And while I’ve come face-to-face with a whole heap of my own fear and selfishness, I’ve seen more of God’s grace than I ever have before. He’s already used this whole experience to turn my heart upside down.
And I haven’t even gone yet.
So yes, I’m going. The passport is on my kitchen counter, and the immunizations are scheduled for later in the week. I’m hammering away at all the logistics, and I plan to be taking you all with me every step of the way. I’m excited and nervous and terrified and humbled and–dare I say it?–ready to be changed.