I have a friend, who was recently telling me how God is calling him to learn to receive love and care from God and others. I was excited to hear this for a few reasons. First, he is such a caring person, always giving to others, and I think it wonderful for him to get to spend some time receiving. Second, it reminds me of a season in my life, where God took me on a similar journey. From a very young age I have gloried in my independence. There was even a time in college when I used to secretly think of myself as Wonder Woman. There was nothing I could not do. But years later, through a traumatic experience, I was brought to the stark reality that I am not infinite. Even as I type that now, it is a good reminder. I am not infinite. In the midst of this season of receiving, I went on a mission’s trip to Brazil. I was worried prior to leaving. I talked to my therapist about how I feared that I would over work myself, that I would over do it. For me, a mission’s trip was a time to work your butt off to the point of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Yet, I knew that the Lord was not calling me to this way of life, to this way of ministry.
So, I left for Brazil, scared about what my experience would be. A couple of days in, I caught a cold. It crept up on me throughout the day and by the evening I was feeling awful. But I didn’t tell anyone on my team. We had an outdoor worship service in the park, in which I was leading worship. Then we sat and listened to a teaching. I continued to feel worse and eventually a few of my team members began to notice. Everyone gathered together and helped me out. One of our team members even allowed me to spit my gum out in his hand so that I could take some medicine. It was frightening to allow others into my messiness. I felt loved by my team members, but also embarrassed. Wonder Woman was nowhere to be found. We traveled that night to a new city and the next morning I still felt ill. As challenging as it was for me, I made the decision to stay in bed, instead of participating in ministry that day. It was so humbling to be on a mission’s trip and not be doing a thing. And yet, I really had no choice. Being stuck in this place, I had to rely on my team members and I realized what a wonderful gift it is to receive.
I began to feel better over the next couple of days, but on the last day of the trip I again got sick. On our second flight I took some night time cold medicine, in hopes that it would knock me out for the rest of the flight. I took the medicine on an empty stomach, which I overlooked since I didn’t feel hungry. I began to feel nauscious and went to use the rest rooms. While waiting for a stall to open up I lost consciousness for a moment. Immediately, the flight staff was around me, asking if I was alright. This part is a foggy for me, but a Brazilian doctor and a medical student from the States both came to the back of the plane to examine me. One of them identified it as a reaction to the meds as a result of my taking it on an empty stomach and the altitude. Within a few minutes, some of the women from my team came back. Although our mission’s team consisted of over thirty people, no one realized it was me who was requiring medical attention until a team member went to use the restroom and saw me lying on the floor. I was in capable hands and felt so provided for between two doctors. I had a few moments to myself before going back to my seat and found myself overwhelmed with gratitude. Even though I had passed out and was lying on the floor of the plane, I felt so cared for by God. It’s almost hard to describe, but the experience of being taken care of in the midst of a seemingly scary situation was life changing. I think at that moment the reality of my finitude became so real to me. It had been growing and developing in me for the past couple of years, but this is the moment when I saw it and accepted it with open arms. I made peace with my finitude.
I am not in perfect peace with my finitude. It is an ever changing state, but slowly, its roots dig in deeper in my heart. My finitude is not the dirty word it used to be. My finitude is no longer ignored. My finitude has become a means of grace, a means of love. And that is one hundred times better than being Wonder Woman.