Something I learned quickly while in Africa was that connectivity wasn’t usually an option. The second night in Africa, we were in Mzimbu in a “plan B” hotel because “plan A” was occupied unexpectedly by some friends who wanted to stay longer. Everyone on our team, when we realized there was free wi-fi, jumped on our devices. The moment all of us had the password we overloaded the thing and we were done.
No more internet.
It was a sad night. I really wanted to talk to my daughter after her first day of school. My friend Lee let me use his phone to make a quick call. I was happy to hear their voices for a few minutes. Savoring every word and choosing them so precisely. I went to bed at a decent hour and slept until the call to prayer rang through the speakers, until the dogs started barking, until the smell of the fires wafted into our unscreened open windows.
The next day we figured that one of us could probably reset the router if the hotel attendant would let us pass behind the desk. Sherwin would be the one we would send. Safe journey Sherwin.
The angels sang and all of us chariots of fire–run hugged him as he returned from his voyage victoriously.
We were able to connect.
What I learned in the process of being unconnected most of the time was that I needed a lot less time on the internet than I typically spend. I would think through a blog post in my mind and jot down a few notes, write a short outline (one paper) during a break, and then when I had a brief window of connectivity I would post.
It wasn’t organized as well. My sentences brief. But I felt my words were more on purpose than they had ever been. I had taken so much for granted.
I can remember the feeling, standing on a hill in Malawi, the sun shining on our faces and the Son shining in our hearts as we laid the cornerstone for a new church. I held baby Fresha in my arms knowing the importance of the incarnation, the beauty of love, and the simplicity that feels like clothes that fit better than anything I have ever tried on.
I want more of less.
So, I’ve been thinking about ways to do that–ways to translate what I’ve experienced into every day wisdom and practice. I embraced what had become foreign to me. Clarity.
I could think.
I could hear.
I could feel.
I could love.
The cobwebs of distraction had been purged in one flight into a world where that type of spider didn’t exist.
How do I think?
How do I hear?
How do I feel?
How do I love?
Now that I’m home, how do I adjust my habits to experience life here, where it’s abnormal to leave your phone in your bag all day without looking at it or touching it?
I was thinking early this morning before the first day of my work week. And I came up with a mindset for the week. Things I can do now to embrace “my Africa” and to see the place I live as an opportunity to continue the work God has started in our hearts.
Day one: The purge of the nemesi…
- I can do this. I can ignore the emails that promise discounts on everything I ever wanted in ministry and in my closet. Delete.
- I am strong. I can say no to the time wasters and say yes to getting things done with a clear mind.
- I can cook. My family is valable. I can go to the store and plan meals for them. I can stop looking for a quick meal on the run option and instead, stop being on the run and prepare a meal with love in my heart, with thanksgiving that I have the blessing and resources to feed my family.
- I can start. I can overlook the pile of things that I’ve wanted to sort in my office and the craft projects unfinished at home and focus on the things that need to be done.
- I can give. Starting with my home and my bookshelves and my shoes (oh wait, who am I kidding? no one would want my shoes after I’ve worn them, ever.)
- I can preach. Goodbye to discouraging voices that tell me to give up. I’ll keep talking to the ones who encourage, constructively critique, and give sound advice. I’ll keep speaking in the confidence of Christ–who is at work in my life. I’ll spend more time reading and preparing and hoping. Goodbye worry.
- I can sleep. Bedtime doesn’t have to be at 2AM. I meet my nemesis procrastination at a young age. She taught me to stay up late and to wait to get things done, convincing me that I work better under pressure, that I needed the adrenaline to be really great. Wrong. Bedtime no later than 10. Going to Africa taught me how to sleep again. I’m really excited about this one.
- I can pray. When I steer away from the center. Lord, be my strength.
A good friend of mine is taking her life by the horns and telling it that it’s not going to master her. Not when there is so much good to do. Not when there is so much love to give and life to live. There’s no time for meaningless worry. We can do something about it. And when we take the baby steps, we celebrate. I love that many others are on similar journeys. There are others who today, who are saying we are strong.
When we backslide. We boast in our weakness. Because we know that the power of God is at work in us. We don’t give up. Once we’ve seen…we are responsible. Making room for new perspective feels good. I feel so much joy in the small things. And it’s real–not fake or mustered up–it’s existence is evident in the reality of every day changes and transformations.
Cheers to Day 1.
I wonder what life looks like in your Africa? And what it would take for you to live more on purpose?
I’m praying for everyone I know to begin to feel the deep peace of God today and to know that they can take baby steps too.