Revenge: a dish best not served

IMG_4643A friend text me a few weeks ago. “How’s your day going?” I had been crying. I took a selfie with watery eyes and smudged mascara. “This is how my day is going,” I responded.

I had been hurt. Wounded. Blindsided, and even feeling a little stabbed in the back. It was not a good day.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have the potential to be a vengeful, hurtful person. Not that I am, but the potential is there. If you hurt me, I can think of even more hurtful things to say back to you. And sometimes, I really, REALLY want to.

A few weeks ago was one of those days. Even in the days following, I plotted out the terrible things I wanted to say to the person who hurt me. It kept me up at night, making a mental list of everything I wanted to say.

But God kept slipping the word “grace” into my mind, which just made me even angrier at first. Why should I show this person grace when they didn’t show me an ounce of it?

Because it’s the right thing to do.

UGH. Sometimes I hate doing the right thing. I always think back to this: “Doing what is right is never wrong.” Never. It’s never wrong to do what’s right. And doing what is right is swallowing my pride and biting my tongue.

Right now it still doesn’t FEEL right, but many tough decisions can’t be made based on feelings. Decisions should be based on what’s right. What’s right is to not serve up a piping hot plate of revenge, or even a cold one.

“See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

It’s funny to me that non-Christians probably think it’s easy for us to try and do good all the time. I’m not afraid to say it: it’s not. Our nature is a sinful one, just like everyone else’s. Luckily I have a God whose Son died on the cross for that sinful nature so I don’t have to suffer eternal consequences for it.

Revenge is a dish best not served at all. It still feels wrong. I still want to retaliate, but I won’t. There have been times people in my life extended grace, and now it’s my turn to do the same for someone else. It’s not easy, and right now it doesn’t offer the satisfaction I’m looking for, but one day it will. And it’s the right thing to do.

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
James 4:17


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The post I’ll always make on June 3rd

IMG_4864Every June 3 I will make this blog post:

“XX years since I returned from living in Uganda.”

It’s impossible NOT to write about the year of my life that has had such an impact on who I am today.

This post today is 2 years since I got back from Uganda. The excitement has faded some, but is still there. The pain has faded some, but is still there. The scars are still pretty fresh, but I also know why I have them. God doesn’t want me to forget.

Only 1/35 of my life was spent in Uganda, yet I think about it every single day.

Seriously. Every. Single. Day.

How could I forget? It was best AND worst year of my life thus far.

So many of the memories were experiences that blew my mind. Washing feet at the jigger clinic. Visiting the babies at the baby home. The amazing chocolate cake at Cafe Javas. Stoney! Trips to Kenya. Late nights with my roommates dancing in our living room. Getting to teach the greatest teens from around the world. Going on safari. The list goes on an on.

IMG_20140307_172741Somehow, depression made its way in. Doubt made its way in. Insecurity took over my life, and I felt like I had no one, not even God, to save me. Few people know this about my time in Uganda, but it was the first time I ever seriously considered ending my own life, and that’s mainly because I truly believed that no one cared about me. I look back now and see how untrue that was, but you couldn’t have told me that at the time.

Needless to say, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” What ended up helping towards the end of my stay was learning that I wasn’t alone. Others were hurt. Others were struggling. But our school was less than supportive when we needed it most.

I’m working on having grace for the people who hurt me and others. It’s not easy, but who am I to judge them for not having grace on those of us who struggled? I should model what I preach. I need to forgive. Easier said than done.

Wow. Two years later and I’m still processing. Two years later and it still hurts. Two years later and I still miss Uganda every single day.

I wish had something more profound to say. Maybe it’s this: I wouldn’t change a thing.

Two years ago I stepped foot on American soil after a year in Uganda, and I was a totally different person. And I continue to change. God isn’t going to let my suffering be in vain.

10334337_10202468687703087_3077441966965500961_nMy prayer is that when I post my “3 years since I returned from living in Uganda,” I’ll have found the grace to forgive, not only those who hurt me, but also forgive myself for mistakes I made while I was there. I hope to have processed more, grown more, and accepted the fact that if I’m going to want people to show me grace, I’m going to have to show it to others as well.

I am a work in progress. I should probably walk around with an “Under Construction” sign around my neck. It’s a sign I would have to wear the rest of my life because I am so, so far from perfection or anything near it.

Most milestones in my life are now built around my year in Uganda because that’s when everything changed for me. And like I said, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Just call me Howard Wolowitz

Photo Credit: ScreenCrush.com
Photo Credit: ScreenCrush.com

Anyone who watches The Big Bang Theory and also knows me would probably say I’m most like the character Penny. I love shoes and shopping, and I hate science. But unfortunately, I feel there’s a bigger connection between me and Howard Wolowitz, the nerdy, Jewish engineer.

Although I’m not Jewish, or an engineer, or nerdy (well maybe a little), Howard Wolowitz and I have something in common: we have experienced something our friends and family have never, and probably will never, experience.

You see, Howard Wolowitz went to space. When he returned, all he could talk about were his experiences in space. Every conversation he had led back to a story about being in space. His friends quickly became tired of him always talking about space, and they eventually called him out on it. No more space stories, they told him.

In less than a week, I’ll be Howard Wolowitz. I’ll return to my friends and family with stories of my life from the past year, and all of those stories took place in Africa. Everyone I’ve talked to who has spent time overseas and then returns to the US says the same thing: “Many people won’t really care. They’ll want a sentence or two about your time overseas, and then they’ll be over it.”

Ouch. I guess it’s good to be prepared, but… ouch.

IMG_20140524_175951My heart tells me that my very best friends will care. It tells me that they won’t mind that all I know for the past year is Africa, therefore, that might be all I have to talk about for a while. But what if that’s not the case? What if they get tired of hearing about Africa?

This is my plea to friends and family: be patient with me.

If every conversation we have leads to a story about Africa, I apologize, but that’s all I’ve known since the end of July 2013. It’s not that I’m trying to show off or brag about my time here, it’s that I don’t know any differently. My stories, my life, my heart, have all been Uganda for nearly a year.

Howard Wolowitz eventually realized that maybe he was talking about space too much, and maybe I’ll reach that point as well. But until I readjust to life in a first-world country, I am asking for patience and grace.