I struggle to find new words to relay my journey of the past twenty months. What more can be said? I was slapped in the face by reality. For the first time ever, I touched the very edges of humanity, and I was surprised by the burn. In no time flat, the world didn't make sense any more. It was perplexing. Unfair. I didn't want everything to change. I was cozy under my blankets. I did my best, for a time, to jam the pieces together anyway. Oh, I'll make them fit. I'll still live right here, right in this safe place. I can share a chunk of my broken heart with them without actually going there...right?
Well, of course that didn't work. I knew it all along. Because once your heart changes the only thing left to do is let it lead. It wouldn't be right to trap a changed heart in an unchanged life. It would go back to its old way. It would forget the things it had learned. As much as that sounded safer and a lot less complicated to my mind, this changed heart beat back louder. It almost always wins, this heart.
So right now, right when I'm feeling my way through the aches and the thrills and the pinchy toes of change, I pick up Katie Davis's book and suddenly my life feels easier again, in contrast.
Here is a girl who really understands the dusty vaporness of this life.
She was a regular girl living cushy in the suburbs. She had a nice boy who loved her, the college of her choice on the horizon. Then she took a trip to Uganda and her heart split wide. Her passion to share the love of Jesus - the love that she herself knew - drove her heart to crazy ends. She wanted to stay.
Her parents said no. Her friends thought she was nuts. In time, they relented. She was allowed to go back, one last time, just to get it out of her system. Then she would return to the States and live the life they thought she was meant to live - a life of education, wealth, security. A life blind to the plight across the ocean. A life lead by her head and not her heart.
In the end, that's not the way it all went down. Over time, her parents' hearts changed, too. They let go of the dreams they held up in hope for their daughter and they allowed room for new dreams to take shape.
Katie is now in her early twenties. She is single. She sees to the basic care and education of 400 village children. She has adopted fourteen Ugandan daughters of her own. She is their Mama - forever.
My family, adopting these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day; it is not what I am doing to 'help out these poor kids.' I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because Jesus says that to whom much has been given, much will be demanded (see Luke 12:48)...
-Kisses from Katie
She let go of almost every last thing. She lost her life so that she could find it.
She sees that God doesn't trace a line between his American children and his African children. We're all just His. We're all a family, we need to take care of each other.
This book, written in her own words, cuts to the heart of every emotion involved in laying it down, all of those things that we cling to to the death. She doesn't sugar coat. She talks about how hard it is to break into a culture so different from her own. She talks about the times she gets lonely. The times she gets tired. The times she wants to close her drapes to the death at her doorstep and take an eight-hour bubble bath. But mostly, she talks about the joy that she never even imagined. She talks about the fact that her life right now is a no-brainer.
She quotes Frederick Buechner, saying, "The place God calls us to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
This is why it's not optional. This is why safety and seclusion are not a calling, even when we snap our eyes shut so tight and wish, wish, wish that they could be.
So the anxiety bubbles up a little, reading these words, because it's all so open-ended, the world's deep hunger so vast. Who knows where it is that God's calling me. It's enough to make me just a little jittery. But oh, to know that deep gladness. My heart beats faster at the thought.
Find Katie's book here. Pick up a copy. Pass it around. Let it change your heart. Then lead your heart lead on.
Read Katie's blog.
Support Amazima, Katie's ministry.
*For the rest of the Letting Go series, click here.