I boarded that airplane to Indonesia with visions of mass revival among street kids, of orphans knowing love and worth for the first time, of a life of excitement and adventure and a me that was somehow more than I had ever been back at home.
But it’s funny… wherever you run in the world, when you get there, you’re still just you. And days are still just days and every once in awhile you get one that takes your breath away, but for the most part they’re full of all the mundane of life that you were convinced you could bypass if you simply chose adventure.
So you do things like language school and grocery store and too brief conversations and you wonder where you went wrong, why it’s all so small, so insignificant.
I went into depression there for awhile, as our adoption process sputtered along and there were no orphans to visit and every possibility just seemed too hard and the resounding conclusion was that I am not enough.
But I read His Word on those rainy afternoons that dragged and dawdled, and I read that He said to bring Him the loaves, bring Him the fishes, and I read that it was enough for thousands. It was more than enough.
So I did the only thing I could think of to do and it wasn’t loaves, it wasn’t fishes, it was breadcrumbs and fish bones but it was all I had.
I started a ballet class for little girls in my neighborhood. With no qualifications, little dance instruction, an email of tips from my graceful sister-in-law, and a lot of YouTube videos, I taught those tiny dancers. And wedged between my self-conscious tongue and third position, something happened. I fell in love with Fridays and so did they. We fell in love with each other’s presence, with each other’s gift of time and space and laughter, the way we held our hands just so and the way I faked knowing the right words.
Someone donated ballet shoes and their chins lifted a bit higher after that, especially the ones with the missing toes. They leapt and twirled and knew they were just as beautiful, just as powerful as the Chinese girls at the real studio down the road. And for the last few months of living in Indonesia, I had finally found my home.
That was almost four years ago and it seems like I should be able to check that lesson off my ever growing list of things-to-be-learned, but it still catches me from time to time at all the wrong moments. I am not enough. I can’t. I couldn’t do it perfectly. Someone else could do it better. Someone else IS doing it better.
But I forget that all He ever asked of me was for that flimsy basket in my hands, the one whose contents seem only enough to nourish me… and maybe my little family. The one whose contents were meant to be broken and dispersed and flung wide over the hillside to fill empty stomachs. The basket whose contents could be made enough, if put in the right hands.
Not long ago a friend who suffers from debilitating anxiety asked me to go to an appointment with her, where she would have to talk about things that she knew would make her pulse race and her hands go clammy. She needed an advocate and my first thought was I can’t do that, I can’t be that. I’m not the best one to go.
I thought of all the reasons I was needed at home (I wasn’t) and all the other people who would be better at it (they wouldn’t), until I realized that this was ridiculous and I had a fish on my hands that was about to start stinking if I didn’t get rid of it soon.
So we went (twice, actually) and she was empowered and she felt powerful and I did nothing and she did everything – SHE DID IT. And it was small and it was trivial and it wasn’t even worth writing about except that I was reminded that looks can be deceiving, and maybe when I enter into That Which is Next all that will really matter was the small and the trivial. Because loaves and fishes and my heart and my yes were all He ever really wanted anyway.
Shannon Evans is a former Protestant missonary turned Catholic convert who lived to tell the tale. She is an adoptive and biological mom and stays up too late at night blogging at We, A Great Parade.