Friday, February 13, 2015

Cactus Wall

Coming back to Nigeria, I find the old habits or friendships that made me tired, I want cut out or discontinue.  Sometimes this includes not answering phone message from people who used to tire me as they asked for things or "encouragement" in the form of money because I didn't want them to like me for the wrong reason.  Boundaries are good, but when I saw these cactus walls that are distinct to our area of the country, I thought, "I don't want to build cactus walls in my life that scratch people when they get close, and keep me "protected" behind them." 

Today I almost made the mistake of not showing hospitality because I had built a wall against someone.  I had someone who, in the past, only came when she wanted money, sent away. I couldn't bear it, so I chased my friend down as she went toward the gate of the compound.  Since she is deaf I had to run right up to her, and when I touched her shoulder, she turned and started jumping up and down.  She embraced me, and in sign told me she was so happy to see me, that she had missed me, and worried I wouldn't come back.  Her joy at seeing me tore down the wall I had built to keep myself "safe."  We drank tea together, and she shared some photos with me.  She told me I was beautiful now, but before I wasn't. "Thank you," I signed back.  Did she ask me for anything?  Yes, twice, but I was able to keep my boundary without my cactus wall. 
Is this the only time I've had to learn this in the last two days?  Nope...
A mother and dear friend fell on her knees before me when I gave her school fees for this semester for her daughter ($40).  I met today with a grandmother who's grandchild has a growth that isn't being taken care of (though she refused my help 2 years ago) she said she has no reason to not let me help this time.  The shoes I brought for the children of my neighborhood did not all fit, but I gave them the one's that did, and did not allow myself to ache over what I couldn't do.  15 children gathered around me when I visited a home today, and I was sure they had seen the gifts I had given to the other little ones.  Without wondering what they wanted from me, I hugged each of them. I walked into a shelter for a maternity clinic where women who did not share my language smiled broadly at me.  I blessed their children and asked God to bless them.  It was awkward.
My life may not be as "safe" without a spiny barrier, but I believe it will be more full.  Not to mention that God rejoices when his children are obedient, and he said, "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some have entertained angels unaware." (Hebrews 13:2) and "When you did it (gave a glass of water, etc) to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40) I don't have to be afraid of being taken advantage of, God can handle my heart, I just have to extend the love he's given me to share, and not hide.

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