General

Beauty - Megan Baird

Feb 22, 2015

“To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It's not about winning and losing; it's about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It's about embracing the pain that you'll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid.”

Summer Sanders

When I first came to visit Haiti, I had the impression that life here seemed easy.  I was here for a week during that trip.  I thought, “These missionaries live next to the ocean, they have these well-disciplined students, the people are friendly, the pace is slower (more my speed), and amazing food is available every day.  The missionaries seemed like superheroes; never lacking patience, always having the right words to say, and knowledge of scripture from front to back.” 

Someone said once that expectations are everything.  When I moved to Haiti to begin teaching at Sonlight, my rose colored glasses became a bit foggy!  I didn’t magically turn into one of those superheroes and I found that those superheroes were real people just like me with real struggles. 

With clear vision, I can now look at us as a family.  You don’t choose your family.   Like all families, we pray that everyone gets along.  However, when you have people coming together who all have some level of independence because they were willing to move to a different country away from their friends and family, things can be complicated.  We all love each other, but it is more a family kind of love than a best friend love. I am thankful for that because it would be tough to try to be best friends with everyone!  We love each other and would drop anything for one another.  We all know that.  Even when we are driving the other person crazy and need space from each other, it works. 

We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19 

Donald Miller said, When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.  This is so true.  At first, I had trouble loving others and loving myself, because I expected everyone to be what I saw them to be on the surface and in one weeks time.  I also expected myself to be a superhero…a standard that is very difficult to live up to!  When I stopped expecting these things, I was not longer disappointed.  I began to appreciate the beauty of broken people serving other broken people.  Each of us broken in different ways, but all made new by God’s grace.  Grace…  The thing that weaves us all together.  

I have also learned that relationships that involve saying hello on the streets or those that you cultivate for a week and then become long distance, are beautiful.  When those same people becomes friends that you see every day, then things become more complicated.  It is when you start to move closer that walls become more tangible.  The walls are the same as for friendships in the States, but also include addition bricks; language barriers, cultural barriers, trust due to the constant flow of people in and out, and unfulfilled promises.  I have found that the time it takes to make a friend cross-culturally is double what it normally takes.  Relationships are hard, relationships with those from another county are double hard.  However, once the barriers are down and the time is invested, the friendships are even more beautiful.

In the classroom, I learned quickly that just because Christ has chosen our students, they haven’t all chosen Him.  I have learned that when you are their teacher and with them all day, they aren’t all little angels.  When I tell them to do something, their first response isn’t “yes m’am”.  It takes time to gain the respect of students.  This is especially true for a single woman in a culture where women rarely get the respect they deserve.  Respect takes time.  Respect requires trust.  Respect comes from actions matching up with words.  Once again, all of this takes time.  I expected to come in and be automatically respected because I was a teacher.  I was wrong.  The respect I receive now, however, is not out of fear.  It is from trust and time spent cultivating relationships with students and isnt a love like that beautiful?

Doesnt that happen so often in life?  Our expectations far outweigh reality.  When we have a small sample of something it seems good, but once that small taste is over we start to the see the realities of it.  That’s what happens when you move past the honeymoon phase! 

Doesn’t beauty come from the struggle though?  When I look back on the struggles in my life, I see growth and relationships that grew through that time.  Christ said in John 16:33,  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. What fun would life be if everything was roses all the time?  The hard times make the good times worth it. 

That is so true of living in Haiti.  The struggles bring breakthroughs in relationships, the struggles bring a certain vulnerability that brings people closer.  So, life in Haiti is not what I pictured it to be.  It is full of real struggles, real hard decisions, and real relationships.  But those struggles make living here more real and more beautiful than a life full of roses.  Those struggles make the moments of joy and the moments of triumph: the moments when a student who has been living in sin for years chooses Christ; the moments when someone who has been struggling to find money for food excels in a job and is able provide for their family;  the moments when you find yourself having a conversation with a friend that you know wouldn’t have been possible with those walls still up.  Those moments are more beautiful because of the struggle, because of the time it took to cultivate them.

It all reminds me of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.  Would it be so beautiful if we didn’t know the struggle it took to paint it?  Knowing that he experienced physical pain, but still kept going so that we could experience something beautiful.  Isn’t the beauty worth the work?  Can you imagine if Michelangelo would have given up and we would have just been able to experience half of the beauty? 

What hardship is God placing in your life, so that you can experience the beauty of the masterpiece at the end?  

 

“To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It's not about winning and losing; it's about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It's about embracing the pain that you'll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid.”

Summer Sanders

 

 

So true, Isnt it?