A Group of People

Two Jungles : @mysoulrefresh

In path, setting on May 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm

By Paula Gamble

Sinking deep into the lush, oversized couches at the DreamGiver’s Inn Bed and Breakfast, I was sitting with dear friends who have joined me in heart and hand with a dream of my own. I call them my “board of directors” for lack of better term, but really they are rich companions on a journey toward helping people learn how to live, as St. Irenaeus (2nd century theologian) said, “fully alive.”

In the midst of our meeting, one of the others started relaying a story of a mutual friend who is living among tribal people in the jungles of SE Asia. Her husband is a missionary pilot and flies into remote villages with supplies, aid and medical personnel. They find themselves at home there despite ongoing battles with malaria, dengue fever, blistering heat and lack of modern conveniences.  As I heard about S’s story – how she dawns oversized rubber boots, a sunhat and a machete to head out into a poisonous-snake infested jungle to clear land for her new “hut” to be built, I began to feel worthless. Her life is heroic to me – she is laboring hard for the hearts of people in the snake-infested jungles among tribal villages who need fresh water,  both externally and internally. Down, down, down goes my spirits as I  became deeply aware of my surroundings: lush, luxurious, comfortable, convenient.

I sat quietly with my unrest (unrest that came as I compared and judged/valued my life with another person’s life). I simply let myself feel what I felt, wondering if I should do more. I was pretty much beating myself up while idolizing the work of my friend and many others who are active in bringing care and hope to those on the margins – I could think of other heroes helping in Libya, Japan, and among the homeless and down-and-out within my own city. Sinking down, my wisest choice that night: I asked God, “Help!”

In a quiet whisper, a silent awareness, I was given the gift to “see” that though I don’t live in a jungle, my job is to help untangle the jungle of peoples’ hearts. It is not easy as I encounter others’ poison – and the  overcrowded messiness that far too often veils the beauty, dreams and value of life beneath. Inherently, the abundance of ornate, convenient surroundings seems to obscure, so subtly, yet surely, the inner magnificence of a heart created to live fully alive in the image of God.

I emailed my friend and told her my story and how the retelling of her story effected my heart. Her reply: “My snake filled land ….your ‘issue filled’ lives that tumble across your path…[we both do what we can]…and your heart beats hard and you sweat in your spirit as you labor for their peace and for their UNDERSTANDING of true life… OUR ISSUES ARE THE SAME….but the packaging is just different. Give me a machete, dirty feet, my motorcycle and a sunburn….I am blessed in this….put me in ‘proper clothes’…with an appointment book and formal meetings and I shake like a baby. Do not stop what you’re doing.”

Two jungles…both needing a respectful clearing to make a “home” – a place where one can learn to live freely and fully alive as originally designed and intended by God. I almost lost that by comparing my vocation with another person’s. I almost lost that by not paying attention to the messiness of my own heart. Instead, in asking the One, who without fear or condemnation, intimately knows my “jungley” heart, received a gentle clearing of the tangles within…and now I am refreshed…fully alive again… ready to encounter the “jungles” he’s given me to help clear.

To read more from Paula, please visit her blog by clicking –> here.

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