I’ve been quite surprised by just how normal everything feels here. Maybe because I had built things up unrealistically in my head. Even though the roads are crazy, driving feels pretty normal. Going for a jog is equally as difficult for me as it was in the US. Stephanie still doesn’t listen to all of my brilliant ideas (even though I know she knows I’m always right). I still have trouble getting up early, and I still get frustrated with my kids. I still can’t speak Spanish. Work is still work. Life is still very much the same.
I mean, the power went out the first time I was taking a shower in Gracias, so I guess that’s different. And the scenery is incredible… the mountains are breathtaking. And I sure seem to see a lot more cockroaches and geckos. Oh, and those grasshoppers I mentioned before, the ones that are huge… they also fly… like birds. And I ran one over on the road the other day, and I could hear the sound it made. They would be more accurately described as small animals.
But things are so normal, even familiar. During the first couple days we were here, Sam said repeatedly, “I think I’ve been here before, have I been here before?” And I had to explain to him, “No, buddy, you haven’t been here before, but I think I know why you might feel that way.” So now, either I’m missing a big warning sign for some developmental issue, or there might be something to my theory. I kind of explained to him that all these places feel familiar because they’re precisely the places God created him (and me) to be in life, and his spirit is acknowledging that. I’m telling you that kids are in tune with spiritual things, and it’s only societal training that beats that out of us as we age. Now, maybe you love that or you think it’s hokey. Both are totally fine. Let’s move on.
By my own measurement, have we made much progress during all this familiar normal? Not really.
Now, other people have done a lot for us, so does that count? Carlos hooked us up with 2 new bulbs and a couple replacement lug nuts for the car (which would have been nearly impossible for me to find in town). The returning teachers have given us all kinds of help, advice, and supplies. The Veenstra’s have lent us their home, the quality of which has successfully established unrealistic expectations for every other teacher who has visited. The school has been incredibly supportive in making sure all our needs are met, and that includes permanent housing. I think we found the perfect place, but we’re still working on locking it down.
It just doesn’t always feel like I’m personally accomplishing something miraculous every moment.
But it is that very sentiment that God has used to remind me that that’s ok, even potentially better than ok. Often, it’s part of the plan. It’s not up to me to establish the goals and measure the progress. It’s up to him. I can only be faithful and do what he’s told me to do, while hopefully continuing to listen discerningly as I go. If things just seem normal, well… that’s fine.
And every once in a while, if we’re just faithful in normal life, remarkable things happen…
Last Thursday night, after driving home in the dark and rain and yelling at my kids and being snippy with my wife, we started the bedtime process. Luckily, it was time to read to Sam from the Jesus Storybook Bible, and I was like, “Ok, it’s ok to take a breath and slow down and remember the point of it all.” So I read the story we were on, which just happened to be the last. After we were done, we had a moment to really talk, and Sam ended up praying to ask Jesus into his heart!!! I’ve asked him a few times before and he has always said he wasn’t ready, which is totally fine, but this time, he wanted to. So we prayed, and even a screaming, overly-tired Evie flying into the room didn’t break his concentration. Now he’s 5, right? So you can assign whatever value you’d like to this “conversion,” but I think it’s highly significant. That said, I also accepted Jesus into my heart when I was 5, but it took me until I was 31 to fully embrace surrendering to God’s will and living in faith, something that I currently struggle with and doubtless will continue to for the rest of my life. Regardless, we will continue to tell our kids the good news until it becomes their own, and Jesus himself said to let the little children go to him (Matthew 19:14), for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as them!
And so it ended up being right there – right in the middle of a “normal” night – that the most significant development of our lives in Honduras happened.
But then, Paul told us about this type of thing in 1 Corinthians 1:28-31:
28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
We have no reason to boast on our own merits. We all just have our own “normal” lives, whatever those look like. We just need to be glad we’re along for the ride, and we should try to pay attention occasionally so we don’t miss out on what it is he’s trying to show us.
So if what you are doing in life feels dull, plain, boring, depressing, pointless, frustrating, or otherwise “normal,” I assure you, it’s not. God is near. You are his child. No matter where you are, lean in a little bit, and you will see just how spectacular his joy really is.