There is a little wall hanging that I have on the back of my front door. It can only be seen when the door is shut completely, and for that reason it's only ever seen by me - due to the Haiti heat, my door is only closed when it has to be - before I go to sleep at night.
Tonight when I shut my door I reminisced about it for a minute. It's a wooden cut out of a little girl on a swing and in the classic olde country print it reads 'Diana's Room'. It was one of the decorations that I used to have in my bedroom in London, Ontario, the city I grew up in for 6 years of my childhood.
Most of you who are reading my blog never knew me at that time, and you may be surprised to know that I was paranoid about security. My parents tell me that I played well with the kids in my neighbourhood, but there was a condition: we always had to be at my house. I would get invited over to play at a friend's I refused to go. I would do everything in my power to stay within the safety of my 'bubble'.
I hated the church nursery. My little brother Broc had to comfort me week after week as I bawled my eyes out when my parents left for the service (His 3 year old words, 'Don't worry Dana, my be with you' is a phrase that still comes up to this day). Babysitters were rare when I grew up, mostly because my parents knew how much I dreaded them. Even the ones who went above and beyond with fancy toys and games from their magic backpacks were kept at a far distance. Usually, I would just hide out in my room until they were gone. Due to my difficult social adjusting (putting it nicely), my parents decided to keep me home for JK, which was music to my ears until SK rolled around. My parents psyched me up for an exciting school year and I even got a Barbie lunchpail, but it wasn't enough to prepare me for the morning school bell. While all of the primary kids giggled and ran around the playground, and then proceeded to dash inside when the buzzer rang, I stood alone and sobbed. It took a parent bringing their child late to school to rescue me.
Yep. Pretty hopeless.
Somehow over the years, I have found myself on a journey that I don't think anyone saw coming, especially myself. People who know me now think I'm this world-traveling adventurer, but the fears that controlled me as a child are still very much a part of me.Sometimes I feel like my life is portrayed differently than from I really experience.
This is because I've had to be the strong one.
Staying put in a house where cracks run through my ceiling. Maintaining a smiling face to all of the amputees and wounded patients around the mission. Teaching my kids and maintaining structure within the classroom while the rest of the country is in disarray. Reaching the dreaded report card deadline. Staying 'grounded' during aftershocks and helicopter landings as to keep my students calm. Sharing promises of the bible with my Haitian friends and children who have lost everything.
Sure. It may appear that I'm strong and steadfast, but don't forget my childhood nature.
Deep inside I still feel insecure. I feel needy. I feel afraid. I struggle to cope with the state of this nation, and what that really means. February 14th is tomorrow, which leaves a whole bunch of feelings undone. My gumption for planning and marking was left somewhere in a heap of books on January 12th and I haven't been able to find it yet. Within the realm of the mission there have been numerous tasks that have been set before me which I never would have signed up for. And to top it off, just this morning we had another aftershock. Brief enough for me to sit and wait it out. Strong enough for it to rattle my cupboards and my heart.
It's hard for me to fully express these two dimensions of life I'm living, but the other day I listened to a song that says it best... 'The Warrior is a Child', sung by Twila Paris ~
I believe that there is a child in each one of us. No matter how strong or esteemed a person may be, there are moments of utter lostness and fear. The gifted leaders at the Mission of Hope are being recognized across the country by the way we are battling the elements day after day, and yet behind the eyes, we are all breaking.
Everyone has a story. We are all fighting a battle. And we all fall down, but He is the one that can pick us up.
Tonight I want to deem credit to where it is deserved. For all of the times I have seemed strong or amazing isn't because of me. Not one piece. Why? Because I'm the child. I'm the same helpless little girl in thick framed glasses who is afraid to go across the street.
But my Father, He is the warrior. He has the power and skill to defeat the darkness. He is mighty and holy. It's His power in my life that has enabled me to be strong in the battle. It's His strength that I hold onto when the ground falls from under me. He is the one who picks me up and let's me cry in His arms.
I don't know what battles are yet to be fought. I can't see far enough to recognize the clouds forming in the distance, but I am certain they are up there somewhere. Naturally I would cower and hide, but believing that His grace is enough, I will press on. Together, let's press on. With the Lord on our side, we have the victory.
May we believe that greater is He that is in us than who is in the world.