I started reading Job at the beginning of the semester. I thought in some ways it would be good to read over again and make some application to my current situation. Not that I'm suffering in Ghana, or recently had all my cattle obliterated, but I have been going through some challenges this semester and have asked God a lot of hard questions like Job did. Two verses have stuck out to me all semester, serving as the exact correlation between Job and me that I was looking for:
"Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
A waxy and colorful bookmark of crayoned hearts fashioned for me by Anna marks these verses. This further serves as an example of where I've been, where I am and where I'm going. I've been blessed and I'm in challenging situations that are changing me, but I can't stay in this place, physically or mentally.
I'm afraid that when I get home I'll be frequently asked the well-intentioned question: "How was Ghana?!" Well, do you have six hours, or which part would you like to hear? I can tell the good parts, of the bright colors, the sunshine, the adorable children, the genuine hospitality. Or I can tell the frustrating side of lines being irrelevant, culture being overwhelming, church being spiritually unfulfilling or language barriers making even English intelligible. Or, I could tell the sickening tales of being physically sick for five weeks straight, or smelling the odor of black smoke of tires burning roadside mixing with the scent of raw sewage wafting from the gutters. Or how about the disturbing experiences of recognizing how high of a pedestal the United States is placed upon and the seeing the rows of used clothes in the markets which are imported from the West. I could describe the haunting images of bow-legged, redheaded and big-bellied children displaying the telling signs of malnution running after a bus of white college students. Or I could attempt to explain the spine-numbing stillness of haunting former slave dungeons with walls that seem to weep and floors corroding with faint screams. But inevitably, I could end up talking about the graceful power of the blue-green gulf, the sound of cascading waterfalls or the general gloriousness of hiking through tropical forests. But this is how it is, I'm realizing: recognizing the beauty of living juxtaposed with the harsh realities of life.
Any challenges that I’ve faced this semester have been discipline, not punishment from God. The wounding of my self-absorbed pride and the humbling physical maladies I've endured have been necessary for my old self to die and a new part of me to grow. In some ways, I apologize in advance for who I'll be when I get home. I'll be emotional, frustrated, confused and Ghana-sick for a while. But I'm not sorry that I've had the experience to become a better person, or to appreciate the consistencies of those who stayed at home. Thanks to all of you who have held me in your thoughts and prayers over the past few months, not even knowing what I was really going through. My experience really has been incredible in the invaluable lessons I've learned. But to truly do justice to what I've experienced, I'm going to be processing things for quite some time. So please continue to be patient with my continuous cycle of being wounded and bound, injured and healed.