I love pictures. My pictures, my friends’ pictures, strangers pictures. Don’t be surprised if I come over to your house and start asking to see your photo albums. Maybe it seems intrusive, but I want to know about your life, who you are, where you’ve come from and what are the times/places that stick out to you as THOSE times. The ones that when you think about them, bring a tear to your eye and simultaneously put a smile on your face.
As I’ve started looking over Morocco pictures, there are certain moments that I can easily describe as the ones that shaped me. The ones that simultaneously make me think, “I can’t believe we did that!” and “I wouldn’t change a thing!” So I’ve decided to share some of those moments with you.
In our first year, I had a girl that helped me around my house who really just ended up being my first, real Moroccan friend. She was a GIFT to me in so many ways. She had just moved to the city from the village she grew up in and was eager to take us back there and introduce us to her family and see her previous life.
To say I was hesitant was an understatement. I was 7 months pregnant and also had a 3 year old and an 18 month old. Since we didn’t have a car, it meant grabbing a taxi to the bus station, and then waiting around until there were enough people (or really whenever they wanted) to leave for the 2 hour trek into the mountains. (Thankfully, I was not alone. It was our family, plus my, also pregnant, SANITY SAVER Charissa and her husband.) We didn’t arrive until later in the evening, and the bus didn’t go all the way into the village – just to the bigger town. So after the bus, we flagged down a grand taxi to take us to the end of their dirt road. At this point, it’s completely dark and we are this rag tag group of foreigners in the middle of this village, just waiting for a little bit of direction. It was the point of no return when our friend’s sister came down the road with her donkey to carry our stuff. Let me just paint this picture for you. We are 2 husbands, 2 pregnant wives, 2 little kids, a donkey, and 2 local friends hiking in the PITCH BLACK up and down a dirt road that eventually leads to her house on the top of a hill. It’s about this time I’m thinking, “Hmmmm..this is a bad idea. What was I thinking?”.
We arrive around 9 and don’t worry, dinner was going to be ready, in probably another hour or so. And then we would all be sleeping together on couch-like things that lined the room. We should have been prepared by how the beginning of this trip was playing out, that it would be epic.
The trip continued with a 6 hour a hike, a lesson in butter-making from their cow that was just milked, playing with chickens (and then eating them), picking peas for a tagine, fumbling through Arabic, lots of tea and one of the most stretching, beautiful couple days of my life.
It was one of my first lessons that loving someone well often means me being completely out of my comfort zone. It meant the WORLD to my local friend that we would take a couple days and see her life, meet her family. But at that point, there was nothing more out of my comfort zone than spending a couple of days in a village with no running water and a squatty potty.
I think that most of my life, I had allowed that pit in my stomach, “homesick for my mom at a slumber party”, feeling to dictate whether I did something or not. I have found that that feeling keeps you very far away from the line of whether something is in your comfort zone, or not.
As that comfort zone thing was pushed further and further and further; I learned that is how I can love people better and better and better. It’s hard to love people well when I need them to be just like me, and say all of the right things. It’s much harder to love people well when you have absolutely nothing in common and may not even speak the same language. This is not to say I have mastered this comfort zone thing. It does not mean that I don’t still get that pit in my stomach feeling. I’ve just decided to distinguish that feeling as the Holy Spirit prompting me to love that person well, instead of backing away in discomfort and fear.
I wish I could accurately convey to you how those “out of my comfort zone” feelings/situations are the times where I have found the most life, joy and to be honest, comfort. Maybe Jesus was really onto something when He tells us that to follow Him is to know True Life, True Freedom, True Joy.