The average person enjoys having someone brag about them.
On most occasions, I would proclaim that I am an average person.
As average as I may be, however, I do not enjoy having people brag about me.
I have spent a lot of time processing this. I want always to walk in humility, but I never want it to be false humility. I believe that there is a fine line between truly being humble, and belittling ourselves for the appearance of being humble.
True humility rests in a heart that recognizes brokenness in the flesh, and righteousness in the sight of Jesus. A heart that is humble before the Lord does not boast in works, but boasts in the grace given by Christ, which enables victory for the sake of the Kingdom.
I want that. I can’t say I always succeed, but I can say that this is my heart; to never boast in my works, but to always boast in the grace of Jesus that enables my victories. After all, it is in Him that we live, move, and have our being.
I find that this effort to walk in true humility is challenged quite often as I receive various emails and messages from people stating that I am their hero, or that they wish they could do the great works I am doing.
My initial thought when I get these messages is this: “I am nothing special.”
The Lord has been quick to challenge me with this. As He reminds me that I am absolutely special, I realize the line between true humility and false humility.
Apart from the Lord, I can do nothing. But I am not apart from the Lord, so I can do all things through His grace and strength. It is then, a privilege to give God all the glory for anything that He accomplishes through me. So then, why should I not be excited to brag about His works?
As I continue to process this, I realize that my battle with humility has nothing to do with the works of the Lord in my life. It has everything to do with wanting to be perceived exactly as I am.
Let me help you understand.
It is not uncommon for me to hear people say that they wish they could live my life. They want to be on a crazy adventure, or they want to see exciting things every day. They wish they could be “on the mission field,” where life is never dull. They dream of living the radical life.
It does not surprise me that this is the view people have of life as a missionary. That is how media portrays such a life. You never read about a missionary going to the grocery store or reading their bible in a coffee shop. You never read about a missionary pressing snooze on their alarm clock because they went to bed late after watching a movie in bed. When you read about missionaries, you read about them dodging bullets and running from machetes. You read about them adopting babies that are suffering from HIV and getting lice from being in the trash dumps.
I won’t deny that these things are a very normal part of life as a missionary. I will say, however, that these things are not the only part of missionary life. In fact, these things don’t even make up 60% of missionary life.
Although I spend much of my time dealing with outrageous things, such as being sick with cholera, cutting fingers open to the bone, praying for babies with tumors, and feeding the poor, I spend equal amounts of time, if not more, doing very “normal things.”
I go to the grocery store. I read books and I watch movies. I clean my house and I complain about it. I drink coffee and I cook as much as possible. I play guitar and I sing at the top of my lungs. I laugh when I am happy and I cry when I am sad. I love Jesus and I pray hard, sometimes regarding very normal things, such as flushing the toilet.
The bottom line is this- my life is very normal. Perhaps the crazy half of it makes it seem a little more radical than the average life, but for me, it is very normal. I am living my calling, and doing it with abundant joy in my heart. It doesn’t feel like much of an adventure, but it feels real. Sometimes it burns, but it is real. It is no longer a dream, it is a reality.
Yes, I am crazy, and yes, I am radical, but at the end of the day, I am just a girl who enjoys loving outrageously, wearing mascara, drinking Starbucks with her best friends, getting pedicures, and crying often because I miss these things so terribly.
And for the record, I do find myself running from machetes from time to time.