So I have a confession to make. There are certain occasions in which I have laughed at my mother for something that I have started to do now that I am older... But let me back up a little bit.
Before I left on this six month adventure, in my quiet time I asked God what He wanted me to take away from this whole experience. I knew it would be a huge time of growth, but didn't know exactly what to focus on. Over a few days, I really felt like He was telling me, "During this time I want you to learn about love. First, I want you to understand how much I love you! Then I want you to poor out that love to those around you." It sounded simple enough. How hard could it be to learn about God's love?
But let me tell you, it has been so incredible and I am realizing this lesson is nowhere near finished. It will definitely be something I am learning my entire life. But during these six months, I have learned so much about God's love. I have learned that I am such a complete failed mess and it is only by His grace that I can even get out of bed each day. I have been completely humbled many times and any time my pride tends to sneak back in, God whacks me right back down (in a loving way) so that I am completely dependent on Him. In fact, I've found when I finally look at Him and say, "Ok! I give up! I do not have the strength to do this on my own!" He replies with, "Finally. Now you are out of my way and I can really work in your life!"
But as I have learned to love God, I have also learned to love the people around me. For a long time, I've had this wall up that doesn't let very many people in. It was like I knew if I got to close and eventually had to say good-bye, it would hurt too much. It didn't seem like it was worth the pain.
Amazingly, one little two year old boy was able to break through that barrier and teach me to love. How? By loving me. Every time I walked upstairs, he would jump up and down, giggling and smiling, and come sprinting (well, waddling), towards me. I could do no wrong in his eyes. No matter how tired or grumpy I was, he would love me anyway and always be excited to see me.
Today, I had to say good-bye to the little guy. It was a bittersweet time. It's always exciting to know that the kids are healthy and able to go home, but at the same time, they are missed here. Usually, I am sad for about ten seconds as we watch the van drive away, but then life goes on. Today, as my little friends drove away I actually felt a couple big tears role down my cheeks. This is where it goes back to my mother. She always cries when I leave for camp or school or to travel around the world for six months. I always thought this was funny. I mean, I'm coming back eventually! But today, here I was, crying as I watched my little buddy leave even though I have only known him a month. I know I will think of him often in the coming months and continue to pray for him and his family. But right now, I thank God that I had the opportunity to meet him. And for letting a little child, to teach me to take the walls down and just love.