This photo means a lot to me. Let me explain. My friends and I have made these collages the last two years in a row. We all get together and sit on the ground with close to 50 magazines in front of us- at least. Then we pray over our time together, and the fun begins. We cut out words for ourselves or for each other and slowly put these amazing collages together. The best part? Each one of them is so incredibly unique. None of ours ever look the same.
As you can see, they are all very different. And I just love that. Below, you can see a few of us (missing a couple!) with our finished collages. Not only is it a fun time together with amazing friends, but it is SO therapeutic and calming. My roommate and I, squatting next to each other in the photo, have ours hanging in our apartment… and it is so fun to see how these words, phrases, pictures, objects, etc. have come to mean something over time. Some people might think this is weird, I just really love it. It is so neat to see how these phrases, etc. can perfectly explain what we are learning, what we have been through, or what we are currently going through. It is a really fun project and they are pretty too. So its a double bonus 🙂
You might be wondering where I am going with this. Let me explain. You can not see it very well, but there is a picture on my poster of a little girl sitting in the mud, completely dirty, and LOVING life. It’s actually the exact same picture at the beginning of this blog entry. One of the girls gave it to me and said they really wanted to see me have a moment like this little girl is having. The word ‘summer’ ended up next to this on my poster, and I am not sure exactly what that means- maybe I will have an experience like that this summer- which is soon- so that would be great!!
Anyways, I have wondered for months what this little girl could possibly mean (we did these in December). So the other day at church, we had a missionary speak at the end who is part of Convoy of Hope. Our church supports his mission work, and at the end of service he was selling his book, “The Compassion Revolution.” Below I posted some of the quotes from his section, “Jesus in the Mud”. My question has been answered. I see it happening in Mexico more than any other place because of what is coming in these next few months, but I think this is a lesson I am learning in all areas of my life. Specifically with missions, sometimes it is hard for me to get fully dirty. To fully devote myself to understanding someone else’s worldview, daily life, and circumstance. It is almost as if I would rather do mission work from an arm’s length away. I can get a little dirty, but I can’t fully commit, because who knows what will happen, etc. I hate admitting this. I really do. But I am so encouraged by this book because he talks about what true compassion looks like. Compassion is wrapping your arms around a child, a widow, a stranger who needs to be held, loved, and cared for. Compassion is loving someone fully, even if that means wading through mud fields to get to them. Compassion means going to those that need it, not waiting for them to come to you. Compassion is realizing that for most of these people, poverty is something they inherited. They are born into it and they will die in it, not knowing anything different. Compassion is being willing to walk into someone else’s world, no matter how uncomfortable, and staying. And not just for a week. But committing to building a relationship in the ways that are possible. Compassion is not just getting dirty, but sitting in the mud. Laughing in the mud, learning to enjoy the mud. Because in reality, we are all muddy, but it just looks different for everyone.
I want to be a person of compassion. I want to be that little girl in the photo. I want to learn to love completely, fully, and wholly. I want to be committed and consistent with those that I come in contact with.
On top of all of that, I think the fact that it is a little girl is very purposeful too. Child like faith. She does not know what mud is made up of, nor does she care. She just sees it as a place to have fun and let loose. Children have the greatest amount of trust. I love the idea of child-like faith, which is why I love kids, which is why I want to teach. But this girls reminds me to laugh, not worry, and to ultimately trust God in the muddiest moments, choosing the mud over cleanliness sometimes, in order to experience what others have to share.
This is nothing I have conquered, it is just something that I am finally realizing. And my question about the little girl on my collage has been answered. Ally, get muddy. Sit in the dirt, don’t leave when it is uncomfortable. When you are serving others, be willing to risk it all. To lose your pride, your comforts, and your ‘knowns’, for the uncomfortable, the humble, and the unknowns.
God is with us in this. It is for him we do it. So I want to learn how to do it fully. That is my goal. And these are my thoughts.
The quotes below are from his book, and you will be able to see how the purpose of the photo came to be defined.
Jesus in the Mud
“But these sloppy conditions and rain could not dampen the enthusiasm of the 1000 volunteers who had prepared to serve the multitude of needy people with groceries, haircuts, job resumes, and activities for the kids. One volunteer swept by me in her bare feet with mud thigh-high on her jeans and oozing between her toes. She le laughed, “This is like Woodstock for the poor!” And so it was. A joyful and messy celebration of caring and compassion.”
“I can’t believe you would be out here with us in the mud!” she said with amazement and disbelief. But that is what compassion is all about: being with those in ned. Lenny could have stayed in his clean, dry, comfortable home. But instead, he and a thousand other volunteers had chosen to venture out into a muddy field to be with these less fortunate members of the community.”
“Of course, this is just like what Jesus did for us. He left the glory of heaven to live with us in the mud and pain and darkness of the human condition in order to cleanse us from our messiness and sin. And much of his ministry was focused on the muddiest people ain the muddiest places. He was never afraid to go where the need was greatest, regardless of how much it cost”
“The mystery of God’s love is not that He takes away our pain, but that he is willing to share in our suffering. In our moments of loneliness and anguish, God is with us.”