“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” Matthew 5:5 (msg)
I was skeptical. (See previous post on cynicism) Every person I’ve known who has been on some kind of mission trip has said how life changing it was. How wonderful the people were. How they got more out of it that what they felt they gave.
Everyone? Really? You slept under mosquito netting and come home and say it was wonderful?
Okay. They’re right. Yep, add me to the voices of people clamoring about how great sleeping with no air conditioning is.
It’s been a few months since my trip to Haiti and my life hasn’t turned upside down. I didn’t come home and take shorter showers or flush the toilet less (though some of my friends have). I didn’t stop wearing deodorant or feel a tug to adopt a child or even bring one home with me. (Henry was so relieved.)
I’m not even sure I can explain how God has moved my heart or why so many Americans are affected by these brief visits to another life. And that’s what has me thinking. Why do we find joy in less than? Is it like a summer camp experience where you leave your cares behind for the week? There’s no nightly news, no Facebook, no “reality” t.v. or Instagram and Twitter to inform us what to watch, listen to and wear. None of this.
A few in our group missed the ability to check email, myself included. I had gotten an international plan for my iPhone to keep families and our supporters updated. It was a connection that seemed to provide some kind of “home”.
We have this love/hate relationship with our full lives of excess. I am thankful the dryer is humming while I type this and I don’t have to wash things in a river and dry them on a line. I am grateful to be able to see updates on Facebook from friends in Russia and Sri Lanka and Peru. Even one of the young men at the Children’s Home we visited in Haiti sent me birthday wishes on Facebook. That was awesome!
But for a moment, we step back and enter the world so many live in day after day and this is the point. To name our excess in the face of millions without. And in the midst of what we see they lack, we find what they have: joy. That is what captures us and amazes us and what we want. That joy. That joy that smiles with hands plunged in a basin washing clothes. That joy that doesn’t ask for more but is content. That joy that is peace.
Not happiness that is fleeting but joy that is lasting. I saw it in their faces because with the “less than” in their lives they have found joy in His life. That’s our answer too. Him. Jesus, the giver of joy and peace.