The Moment When Striving Ceases…
For those of you who may not know this, I’ve been here before lol. As a matter of fact, I call this place home. I’ve explained how I’m usually here with a few folks I call family, but I haven’t discussed in detail how time plays a part in my China experiences to date. This, my friends, has been rather eye opening for me; surely a lesson learned and a gift I will carry through customs.
If you have seen any part of my life, you would know I’m a pretty busy girl. I frankly hate that word, simply because there is no way to classify my degrees of busyness on a healthy scale. I have ran on fumes for decades lol and am now realizing it’s lasting effects. Sure, culturally speaking, and given my upbringing, this is the bane of my existence. Learned behavior is excruciatingly difficult to unlearn and almost impossible to forget. Why the preface? Though I can reiterate the webster’s dictionary definition, I don’t know the truth of REST. You know when you close your laptop and the screen goes dark but you know it’s still running cuz you can hear it’s engine? That is a clear description of my rest patterns… Dark, quiet overdrive. My students know, most of my inspiration comes in my dreams… That lead me to get up and write as much as I can down to remember! Anywho… Why am I here? Today that was made clear. To learn how to REST and to trust that God has His best for me.
Normally, when traveling to China, I am here for 17 or 18 days or so… at most. A little over two weeks, that often feels like a lifetime. If you could understand just how much is accomplished in that short amount of time, you would likely think I’m pulling your leg. But it’s true… In one trip, we traveled to 12 cities (some more than once) in 19 days! Did I mention there was a 2 day cross country train both ways involved? Talk about back packing! We were on the move! One time, I was called halfway through the trip. I arrived and went back and forth across the border every day for the 7 days I was there. I got more stamps in my passport on that trip alone than any since. This is not to say that the pace of these trips are bad. The nature of these trips are crucial… but very different. Time is an interesting thing. With this being my eighth trip to China, and really breathing in this new beginning, it is imperative that I need not put old wine into new wine skins. The purpose of this trip is very different. He brought me here to rest.
How does a restless person rest?
Well that’s a great question considering I’m still trying to figure that out! I will tell you this much… She can’t sprint in the marathon! 40 days… There is significance in that (for another post). I cannot be expected to run from place to place. Now at the end of my 2nd week (the time I’m usually getting ready to come home) I’m starting to learn the restorative power that is present in true and still rest. Silence… is therapy. True silence… is surrender.
2 Samuel 15:28
See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,for I wait for you.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
… but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Earlier this week, in my scurry of disillusioned bewilderment, a friend sent me this piece of encouragement.
“Dear Imani, as I was just biking home… and talking to Dad about you, He reminded me this: ‘…sometimes I have people wait, not because of them but because the host and people waiting to receive my messenger is not ready yet and need time to get prepared. Timing is something fascinating and a mystery. Let my precious Imani know that I am delighted with her and to relax. The stage for the next leg is being prepared, please be patient and enjoy yourself! Love, Dad’ There is a time to pedal up hill and a time to enjoy the moment and do things that give you joy and recharges your inner being. That is how we endure and last for the long haul as long term folks. Self care is just as vital in retaining long term field workers😇”
This love note couldn’t have come at a better time. Prior to receiving this message, I was racing at light speed. Not at all stopping to enjoy the beauty He had laid before me for FOMO (fear or missing out) on something! New flash! I was missing out!!! He was inviting me to enjoy myself. Enjoy all that surrounded me. Delight in this season of rest I so desperately have been longing for! That day marked a shift in my perspective. I loosened my belt and sought to enjoy each moment rather than get lost in the big picture.
I got to visit MOMA here in Shanghai with my friend. That was a lovely experience. While viewing one exhibit, we marveled at how differently we approached the art. I literally got nose-to-art close to see the intricacies of the details. Call me OCD (cuz I am), but the little signatures written in each stroke gave me a different story with each piece. It made me appreciate the whole piece so much more.
Upon reflection, I can see that this is what The Lord was drawing me to do with this experience: value the little things to better understand and grasp the bigger picture. It wasn’t until a couple nights ago, when conversing with a friend that she advised me to gather my stones of remembrance. Not until I have gathered the little stones from each place and from each moment, could I build the alter of remembrance that carries me into my next chapter.
So my friends… I’m gathering. And I am beyond excited to see what my journey will look like after I’ve put these stones together. In the meantime, I’m resting, waiting and enjoying each day, moment by moment.
On my way to my next stop…
Thank you Shanghai…
Back to the art scene… Same night as MOMA, I got to visit my friend’s art collective space, for another art opening. Very cool evening. We were invited to take found objects and manipulate them into something new. Transition much? Here again, unknowingly, I was asked to gather pieces and put them together.
My final result… What do YOU see?