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Each day I walk 45 minutes to work all by my lonesome. To be honest, I hate that walk.
I hate that by the time I get to work, my feet, shoes and pants are covered in dirt. I hate that I have to hold my breath when I hear a bus approaching because it spits out black exhaust as it speeds by. I hate that people stare at me because I’m white. I hate that street children run up to me and beg me for money. I hate that my only alternative to walking to work is taking public transportation and sitting in traffic. I hate that crossing the street is like an actual game of Frogger. And I hate that I have to constantly worry about pickpockets.
There’s nothing comfortable, safe, or easy about that walk.
Recently, to make my walk a little more bearable, I decided to start spending those 45 minutes in conversation with God. Most of the time, that “conversation” sounds a lot like that paragraph you just read – a long list of complaints. Sometimes I complain to God the whole walk and don’t spend any time listening to him.
What is happening? My summer, which started with a palms-up learning approach, somehow turned into an arms-crossed complaint filled one.
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10: 32-36
When I finally took the time to listen, God asked me, “Where is your joy?!” The believers in this passage were persecuted, imprisoned and joyfully accepted their suffering, and here I am – discouraged and complaining about dirt, exhaust, and stares. How did they find joy in situations far more difficult than mine? How did they become people like that?! It’s because they knew that they had better and lasting possessions.
This summer has interrupted my comfort, security, and, unfortunately, my joy. So here’s what God has been teaching me: my arms-crossed, complaint filled attitude exists because I’ve been finding joy in the wrong things. Coming to Kenya stripped me of those things, and left me bare. If I had come to Kenya with confidence in my better and lasting possessions, I wouldn’t be left bare. I would be left joyful.
I have about a month left in Kenya. Instead of spending my 45 minute walk to work with arms-crossed and complaining, I’m going to spend it palms up and rejoicing over all that Christ has done and has yet to do in my life.
About the Author: Julie is a World Next Door intern currently in Nairobi, Kenya. She will be a senior at Cedarville University pursuing a degree in Business Marketing. Julie will kick your butt in a game of Euchre, loves a good cup o’ joe, and has a ridiculously irrational fear of birds.