When I'm in Mozambique, I don't care what I look like.
Messy, greasy hair. Little to no make-up. Legs and arms adorned with mosquito bites. Wearing the same clothes twice (or three times) in a row. Showering only every 3-4 days.
Yep. And my husband still loves me, including my not-so-glamorous moments :)
What most people, both my team members and the Mozambican people, notice about me when I'm there are my feet.
I call them Mozambican feet. I love the feeling of the center's sand in between my toes. If I could, I'd choose to walk around the center barefoot; even one time I walked all over the place with no flip flops for several hours (one of the girls was wearing mine). Most of the time, my feet are even dirtier than the kids there; that says a lot.
I like who I am when I'm in Mozambique. Aside from not caring what I look like, I'm more carefree in the way I think, act, and say. And, more importantly, I get a little closer with God each day. I never have to worry about filtering how I present myself to other people; and I enjoy the freedom in that. It's a shame how I oftentimes return from my trips and, slowly but surely, return to the person I was. As much as I try not to, I go back to my natural habits: conscious of how I look before work, how I say things in front of new people, and how I carry myself in the public.
But when did all of those things ever matter? Who are we trying to impress? Our natural tendency is to think about how other people will perceive us. And most of our time is spent not only on our appearance, but knowing the right or "proper" words to say, or controlling how we act in a group setting. We have a desire to control everything in our life, so we try to control how people see us by basically becoming the person we think they want us to be. We waste time putting on this "false self," a made-up identity that deters us from who we are called to be. In reading Brennan Manning's Abba's child, I came across this quote which best summarizes how we ought to live:
"Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion."
When we know and accept that we are defined in Him, nothing else matters. So why should I care about wearing different masks to please people?
Here's something I've learned: When you're on a mission trip, you're called to step out of your comfort zone and be present with the person or people God places in front of you. If we get caught up with the distractions, the worries, and our own selfish needs, we miss the point and we miss out on the unique opportunities He gives us.
I hope one day I can be the person who I was in Mozambique here in Orange County. Still working on it.
Sidenote: A little dirt don't hurt, right?
|Hours after I walked around the center barefoot. |
Amazing what baby wipes can do.