So, I decided to link up again this week with Jessica for her Smell The Roses post challenge to write a letter to your younger self. I liked the reflective nature this post lends to...so here goes.
Dear Younger Nadine,
There are so-many things I would love to tell you, but no real idea where to begin. You see, life turns out to be more wonderful than you could have ever dreamed or imagined. Of course, there are challenges along the way, but they are moments of refining and sifting and shaking away the dirt to reveal the gold.
Your life takes a drastic turn when you decide to become a part of short term mission trip to the Philippines when you are 16. It is here that you learn life is not just about you, and there are countless amounts of people who living in hopeless situations. It is here that you discover how bright and valuable God's love is; its a beacon of hope to the hopeless that you can no-longer keep to yourself. You are forever changed by this trip.
Your desire to pursue this calling of sharing God's love to the poor and broken becomes a reality in your late teen years. You join an international youth organization where you discover more of who God is and desire even more to make Him known. You visit many different countries with teams of people and you even end up going on an around the world adventure on your own (I bet you weren't expecting me to tell you that). It is through your travels and dialogue you begin to discover more about who God has created you to be in accordance with the passions you have in your heart.
Your heart breaks for those who are hurt, broken and abused, the voiceless and those seemingly forgotten by the world. You are for the most part overwhelmed at the many injustices taking place in our world today, but for the most part, you are determined not to let it immobilize you. You generally dive in with head, heart and hand.
You journey to North East India where you feel the most alive you have ever felt. You trek through the Himalayas with an inspirational American friend, running "Safe Migration Seminars" and "Princess Parties". You go on networking trips to visit other Anti-human trafficking organizations around India, meeting ex-Bollywood film stars along the way. You hold writing seminars for NGO's. You run programs for local high school students. You help organize and MC community events and conferences, not to mention decorate peoples weddings. Oh. and you fall in love and meet the man you are going to marry (He is the most amazing man you have met and ever will meet).
You get married, and move back to Australia for a while. Where on many different levels your trust is put to the ultimate test, Where hope in anything but God leads to heartache. Where the very foundations of your faith, are rocked to the core...but you'll make it through. You have your husband- the most wonderful, caring, man to hold your hand through it all, and the hard times bring you even closer together.
So let me summarize a few key things for you;
* Community/Relationships are essential in life. Love, grace and humility are best found and experienced in the context of journeying through life with other people.
*Your purpose and calling are not a once off discovery nor limited to geographical locations. You will make more discoveries both big and small on a daily basis as to what you are called to do and no-matter where you are you can be intentional in engaging in your community, and with those around you.
*The most precious gift you can give people is your time. A handwritten note, a listening ear, a heartfelt hug, baking some muffins or even just sitting beside someone while they are playing the PS3 (who of your friends plays a play station?...your husband!) shows someone they are valuable.
* Material possessions do not equal happiness. Some of the most content and generous people you have met live in slums, with cardboard boxes forming their walls. Don't chase after things of this world, but remember to store up treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy.
*The plans you have for Your life will not always/ very rarely come to pass. (it's ok) Don't wish for days gone by or longing for what is to come, for you will miss the opportunities that lay waiting for you in the present. Be fully present each day in the joy and in the pain... Life in its fullness is learning to be content in every circumstance. Fullness is experiencing the highs and lows with the Maker by your side. It comes when you realize life is not about you, that decisions, choices and answered or unanswered prayers are the outworking of a greater purpose and higher calling upon your life and those around you.
*Finally, and most importantly. Remember apart from God you can do nothing. All your attempts to love, develop, engage and transform communities will be futile if not an extension of your love for the Lord. Your love for God must remain central to who you are and an overflow of what you "do". For it is His love which has the power to change lives...not yours.Your strength, motivation and desire will at times fail...but God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever...
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."