Practicing The Act of Surrender
This coming summer of 2018 was one that held much potential in my mind as I was pondering on what to do with my last summer before I graduate college and start a career. What does a girl do when she has one last break from both school and work before she settles into a career and has no summer, spring, or winter breaks anymore? A few ideas I had were to 1. work the entire summer and save money so I could have security in finances and possibly make a dream of marriage happen sooner rather than later, 2. take a job abroad in Europe as a nanny so that I could both make money and fulfill my hearts nostalgia for new adventures, or 3. find some sort of mission’s trip to go on since I had never been on one before. If I am being brutally honest, as much as a mission’s trip sounded like a cool thing, being financially secure by saving money all the while doing it in another country had me captivated much more. But while trying to make this decision I kept practicing the act of surrender. I would just surrender this summer to God, surrender my will to God, surrender my desires to God, surrender the timing of things to Him, and surrender the financial end of it all to God. Through the month of January my heart was constantly being torn between all three of these options, and all the while God was wrestling with my desires and will to align them with his. I have never been more grateful for God wrestling me than in that month (and still now). In that month of January, God began to dull the deep longing in my heart for marriage, the one desire that was driving me to push God and others around to get my way. Praise God for being stronger than even our strong wills and keeping doors closed that need to stay closed. Praise God for seeing the desires of our hearts, understanding the depth of the want, as well as the painfulness of watching others get what we want. He sees our what breaks our hearts, and He knows where to find all the pieces to mend us back together again. Best of all, He does not just gather the pieces and give them to us to do the restoration, He spends intimate time doing the patch work himself with his love being the glue to it all. I promise all of this is going to lead us to how God ended up guiding me to Para Servir 2018, just hang with me for a minute! So in the midst of the mending and shaping, my heart begin to simmer down in the pushing for marriage and my soul began to long for an escape. An escape from this American lifestyle. An escape from the people around me (as much as I love them all deeply, sometimes you just need to get out and go be you without friend, daughter, student, or girlfriend attached to you). An escape from my own comfort. An escape from this tiny little bubble world I have created for myself. So on February 3, 2018, I wrote on a sticky note, “I am going on a missions trip this summer rather than staying. Staying comfortable. Staying to make money for myself. I must go. I must deny myself. It’s that simple.” Friends, can we talk about heart change? A change that only God could have done because I am so stubborn, strong willed, and stuck in my ways once I get my mind set on something.
So now it’s February and I am set on going on a mission trip somewhere. Key word: Somewhere. I search mission trips through YWAM, Medical Missions, and pretty much any mission’s site I could find. I came up with nothing. Nothing that really gave me peace. Nothing that seemed like it would work. For some reason, I kept dreaming of a long-term trip. Something where I could get invested in the people and culture. A trip that would allow me to deny myself of comfort and familiarity for longer than just a week. But even with this more specific idea of a mission’s trip, I was still coming up dry. Part of the reason for this lack of finding stemmed from my looking up medical mission’s trip. That is not to say there isn’t long term medical missions trip, but I think as I sit and reflect on this whole process, God wanted me to escape from one additional thing: nursing. All these things that I desire to leave for a chunk of time have one common factor: my identity. It isn’t that the comfort, community, and schooling are bad for me. In fact, they are all hand-picked and intentionally placed in my life by a sovereign God. The problem with all those things is, my identity has become so consumed by my role as a nursing student, my role as a girlfriend, my role as a daughter, my role as a leader, and so on and so forth, that I have lost my true identity in God. Rather than finding my acceptance, value, and worth in God, I have begun defining those things by what I do, how well I do it as well as by who accepts me, loves me, and wants me/needs me. And sometimes the only way to fix the root issues in our lives is to allow God to come in and strip away the things tripping us up. So I am grateful that God sees into the deep fissures of my heart and moves forward in remodeling my soul before I even realize I need it. Anyways, after endless amounts of searching and still coming up dry, I decided to shoot a text to my beloved friend Melissa who had participated in the 6-week Para Servir 2017 internship! She had mentioned it to me months ago and I had brushed it off because I was still more interested in making money for myself that coming summer. When I texted her about she immediately jumped on getting me connected with Jennifer and Genia. Not to my surprise, the trip was already full and they were already looking at accepting one last girl (which would make the trip VERY full). But even with them being at capacity, Melissa told me to send in an application. So I did. A few days later I received a phone calling telling me that they had room for one more person but there was another girl applying for the spot so it was going to be first come first serve basis. God ended up gracefully weaving me into the internship and I am beyond stoked.
I felt necessary to include all of these details in the description of my journey to Para Servir 2018 because God works in the fine, small details. In fact, that is typically where you see Him the best. I pray from reading this, you are reminded to look for God in the intricate details of your life. Find freedom in surrendering your desires, plans, timing, and will to God because He will not only change your heart, but He will do immeasurably more than you could ask or image (Ephesians 3:20) throughout the process/journey. Every season is in preparation for the next. Every painful experience is never meaningless. With that knowledge, I am expectant and excited for the next few months leading up to this 6-week internship in Guatemala. I am expectant to see God provide financially, as well as see Him continue to transform my heart. Lastly, I cannot even imagine what His plans are for my heart while in Guatemala; but I know we serve a good God, who does nothing out of malicious intent, and rather works everything for our good and His glory, which means His plans for my time in Guatemala is going to reflect all of that.
Jenn Hodge 2018 Para Servir Intern