- Sarah Nicholson
- Malindi, Kenya
- This blog used to be about me and my new husband starting our life together in Brookhaven, Georgia. Now, 8 years, 3 children, and 1 trans-continental move later, I'm writing for me; to document the emotional and spiritual journey I am on so that I don't forget the paths I have traveled in my heart and mind.
Monday, March 27, 2017
I love/hate Africa. Somedays I just cry to myself in the car as I drive down the road because I want to be home so badly. Home is where I feel comfortable, where I’m surrounded by people that I understand (most of the time), and where the challenges are things that I’m so used to dealing with that they almost don’t seem like challenges at times. I’m used to being bombarded with media and having a million choices of cereal and sitting in Atlanta traffic and having to get places on time and rushing everywhere. I can never seem to get used to the way men here treat me like I’m less than Chris. I hate getting pulled over by a policeman BEFORE they notice anything wrong so that they can then find something wrong, making my children late for school and me really ticked off, only to find out that when Chris stops by later they tell him everything is fine. I hate people looking at the color of my skin and automatically charging me double what they would charge an African (and no matter how many times I tell myself that I am privileged and they are impoverished and need the money it doesn’t seem to make me feel better about it). I hate that I never know what I will or will not find at the grocery store. Milk? butter? yeast? So I have to have a plan B for supper if I am missing an ingredient and a plan C if the power goes out and I can’t bake and a plan D if we run out of gas. Okay, this one really isn’t that bad but it is annoying. Some days these things are all I can focus on and it discourages me so much.
But there are other days. There are days when I visit a local school during their chapel time, and I get to listen to Kenyan students worship the Lord. I could take a video, but it just wouldn’t be the same, so I put down my phone and I soak up the moment. I am standing in a small concrete church. The wooden benches are old and broken with extra nails sticking out here and there to make them last a little longer and threatening to snag my clothes or my skin if I’m not careful. The old rusty ceiling fans caked in dust turn a little, giving me hope they are coming on, but then I realize they are only turning with the wind because there is no power. The hot steamy air from the way people are packed into this small chapel is made bearable by the occasional refreshing breeze reminding me that the Lord is there, and sweet little faces are peering in through every window because they want to see what’s inside, and there is literally not a space left. Then a young man stands up in front of his peers and starts to lead them in a kind of worship that can’t be taught or learned. It comes from a place somewhere deep down inside of him, and as it comes up it carries with it the African heart that has been beating for thousands of years, and the Kenyan soul that stirs up pride in the hearts of these students, and each individual story in the room where I am sitting that tells of hurt and suffering and trials but also of endurance and strength and courage. This worship is not something that I could ever produce because I do not know the African heart or the Kenyan soul or the stories of these students, but my own worship stirs up within me from my own heart and soul and story and somewhere in this hot, concrete, crumbling room their worship and my worship connect us and I hear the Lord saying to me, “Receive!” And so, I do. I remember why I agreed to come to Kenya. I remember why I am still living here. I remember that my calling is so simple, to pick up my cross and follow Christ. And I remember that Christ continues to pour out on me and to ask me to receive all of his wonderful and glorious riches. I fall in love with my Lord all over again and I fall more in love with this place that I still know so little about. Christ is living here among these amazing people, and when I die to my desires to be back “home” I gain the world. I gain a world of people, each with their own heart and soul and story, and I am connected to them in a way that I can only experience in worship. I stop striving. My soul is still. I know that my Lord is God. I receive Him.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
I wrote this on February 26, right after attending If: Nairobi.
I think I am going to try a little experiment on myself. This past weekend I went to the IF:Nairobi conference, and it was AMAZING. I learned so much, was encouraged until my cup overflowed, and met some beautiful women. As I sat and processed everything I had learned, I also did a little reading in the book "Nothing to Prove" by Jennie Allen. Two thoughts continued to swirl around in my head: 1) I want to stop striving for BIG noteworthy accomplishments and just seek out small acts of kindness in the name of Jesus, but I never seem to know where to start. 2) I still struggle so much with wanting to find my identity in something I can be good at or recognized for, or just to say, "Hi, I am Sarah, and I am a __________."
And then it hit me- these two things are related. One is causing (or preventing) the other. What if my striving for identity and notoriety is preventing me from hearing the Spirit speak to me, saying, "Sarah, just start here, this person could use a friend."
I prayed this prayer: "Dear God, I want to do the small things for you, I just need you to nudge me in the right direction. I'm not an initiator. I don't see opportunities all around me like Chris does. I can't see the forest because of all the trees in the way. Please show me grace and give me nudges and clues in the right direction. I know that any good deed done in your name brings you honor, but I am overwhelmed at the need around me. Just please, narrow it down for me, Lord."
Then I continued to read and this line hit me: "The degree to which we believe and embrace our identity as a Spirit filled child of God will be the degree to which His light shines through us."
What if I stopped looking for ways to find identity and worth? Would I have an easier time seeing the opportunities God has put in front of me to be a light for Him? My hypothesis is that yes, I would. So I am going to put that hypothesis to the test.
Every time I notice someone else's talents or accomplishments and find myself wishing I was good at that or had accomplished that, I am going to say this to myself, "Whew, I'm so glad I'm not good at that because I might be tempted to put my identity in that instead of in Christ." And then I will carry on living my life and looking for small ways to serve Him- I sure don't want to do anything big, because my identity would then shift to that thing which would sooner or later pass away.
No, I will do the small things and leave the big things to God. He can take my loaves and fish and feed 5,000 and nobody, including me, will think it was me who did it. And that is just the way it should be.