One of my most prominant sins has always been worry and anxiety. I never categorized it as a sin until I heard Pr. Jim preach about it when doing messages on the book "Respectable Sins". I have always worried about the future and what was going to happen. I was always a "grass is greener on the other side" type- I jumped from one situation to the next seeking that comforting feeling of security and peace, but no matter what situation I found myself in I was always worrying. I find it so funny now, looking back, because in my American life of weath and ease and comfort- with my house and my car and whatever I wanted RIGHT at my fingertips, I never had anything TO worry about.
I have felt, in the past few days to a week, that sin of anxiety and worry creeping back in. I have wanted so many things in my life and have had so many goals and aspirations. Coming to Zambia and beginning the work here has fulfilled so much of that and I HAVE felt more at peace here- knowing that I am for once in the right place at the right time than ever before. I finally reached that goal of contentment and yet somhow I've let myself start worrying again about the future. How many orphans will we take on? Will we make the right choices about the house? Are we making the right choices in who we are sponsoring? Are we doing enough? Should I be doing more... giving more? Am I saying the right things to them? Am I making the right relationship choices? How long will I be single? Should I marry a Zambian with all the work and cultural differences that will bring or is that to much to ask of the man? Should I be thinking about marraige at all- or should I be focused on the mission here... can you do both? If I DID get married here, how would the wedding work- how would we raise the kids, where would we live... it's exausting. Mainly, my worries of the past week have been that age old issue: MONEY.
I have never been poor. I have never felt that want or need. I have never gone without. I have been so lucky to have been raised by the combination of a man who taught me the value and payoffs of being a hard worker and making the most money you can, and a woman who taught me how to save and the meaning of "waste not, want not". It was an interesting mix, as far as parents go, and I am lucky to have gotten my father's work ethic... almost to a fault, and my mothers budgeting skills. Unfortunately, I did NOT get my dad's laid back attitude, but rather my mom's constant worry about the future (but I did get her good looks so that makes up for it :) ). I have never looked in my bank account and been scared or shocked (except maybe once or twice in college, and that was because of my own frivolous spending and I knew there was always someone there to back me up.)
This morning I looked at my bank account statement and just stared at it for a while. It's scary- for the first time. I look around and I am so thankful for the things that I have. I have a house to live in and a bed to sleep in and a dresser for my clothes and a fridge and a stove... more than many of the people I deal with on a day to day basis could ask for. I also have a car on the way, which is what most of this money worry comes from. I can not think about the car without tearing up. It is such a necessity for my life and work here, and I think about how much I took having a car or access to a car for granted before. The original price was quoted at 8,000 USD, and so I was given 5,000 and I decided to go ahead with the purchase knowing that God would provide. He had provided more than half, and this car will be used primarily for my work for Him here and I have full confidence that He was blessing my decision to get the car. That price soon shot up to 10,000, with all the registration and everything included, and so I was nervous but decided that even still, I would go ahead with the purchase knowing that half of that was given to me out of generosity and love. I had the money transfered (which cost another 45$). On Thanksgiving day, I found out that it would be another 300$ because of exchange rate issues. At this point I just wanted to cry. My bank account was dwindling, then with the holiday expenses it was even more scary.
I got sick Monday and have been feeling quite under the weather since. I started to get really down knowing that I will be pinching pennies and not buying any gifts for the people I want to buy gifts for, and not doing some of the things I had planned for freinds here. That's just the thing though, they were MY plans and MY ideas. This work is everything for me. My focus got off track with missing home at the holidays and feeling sick and then feeling sorry for myself because I'm broke. I stopped realizing that God has given me EVERY thing I need for the work I need to do here. I realized I was worried about money and things, when all I need is my Bible and prayer. As I laid there all I could think was "do not worry about tomorrow..." I got my Bible and looked up the passage:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In that same chapter was this: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I have let my heart get distracted and worry. I have had so many conversations this week that centered around my future and money and relationships and where I'd be a year from now... all I can say is that I hope in a year my heart has done nothing but grow. If my bank account does not grow, so be it. If my pantry or stomach are not full that's fine. But if my HEART has not grown... I will be in trouble- for out of the heart comes our treasure, our words, our actions... my work here is worthless if I am not focused properly.
I hope that God does not let me forget this. I hope that whatever state of riches or poverty the future brings my way I will remember to live each day with joy in my heart and feed on God's word and rest my cares upon Him.
In addition to all of this worry about money, I haven't got my visa yet. I sent my fingerprints to the states for a background check almost two months ago and have heard nothing. I am at a loss for what to do... and nervous about the reprecussions of it taking so long... or what will happen if they don't come.
Even writing this, I got a note that my mom's package came (a huge pick me up from the "down" week), and a call that my car is on it's way from South Africa and that tomorrow I am going to go get the package and (finally) my water filter (yes, I am worried about money, but my sister and brother in law sent the money for a filter. I had thought yesterday about waiting until after the holidays to get it when my money built back up but then after reading those verses I realized No, the money was sent for a filter, and so a filter I will get. I will not worry about money anymore- Tomorrow will take care of itself.) I will spend the time I normally spend worrying and planning and fretting and anxious instead praying that my needs will be met, knowing that He has promised to meet them. I am His daughter, and I am doing what He called me to do. He's not going to let me perish and if He did it would be because He had a greater plan and purpose than anything I could think up.