“Don’t get soft”

Well folks, it’s getting closer. The countdown is officially at 3 days. Whoa…what? Yes, 3 days. Three days left to soak up our remaining time here and three days to finish preparing for our homecoming.

Home – what a sacred and comforting word. Home is that place where guards are left at the door and people are fused together through the workings of struggles and victories and every inside joke that falls between.

I can’t wait to see my family and hug my sister. I can’t wait to sit around a dinner table and laugh with them. I can’t wait to hear about all the life that has happened in my absence.

But there’s an apprehension that comes with the anticipation. The words of a once-met missionary pastor echoes in my head, “Don’t get soft…don’t get soft.”

He’s spent his last 26 years overseas and raised his family there. He may be from the US but his lifetime is notched elsewhere. He’s made the decision to come back to care for his dying father. And his words to me are “don’t get soft”?

Why would those be the words he chose to give us? Likely, because this man knows the ease with which it is to slide back into the comfortable habits and routines of American living. America is soft. Yes, you heard me: America is soft.

Back off overzealous patriots, I’m neither a flag burner nor a hater of all things America. In fact, I love America. I love the opportunities found there. I love the freedoms fought for there. I love the union of cultures as other people seek to make America their new home. I love that in a single day I can drive from a beach to the mountains and then to the plains. America is beautiful. Ok, America rant done.

But soft, yes she is that, too. We are far too complacent and far too accepting of mediocrity. We are more about our comfort and avoiding hardship and difficulty than about living a life abandoned for the King of Kinds (speaking here in mass generality).

Brian and I are going through the book of 1 Corinthians and yesterday were discussing chapter four. Paul is addressing the church at Corinth and how their efforts to escape ostracism, hardship, and maltreatment make them as if they were “living like unbelievers” (3:3).

Wait, did you catch that? By seeking to avoid these things, the Corinthians’ lifestyles were matching that of unbelievers! Don’t we seek to avoid these things? Aren’t we taught that suffering and persecution is a bad thing? Hmm…so if Paul says avoiding these things makes them similar to unbelievers, what should the life of a believer look like?

Let’s look back at chapter four beginning at verse 11: “Up to the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty; we are poorly clothed, roughly treated, homeless; we labor, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we respond graciously. Even now, we are like the world’s garbage, like the dirt everyone scrapes off their sandals.” (HCSB)

So you’re telling me, that according to Paul, our lives are to be flavored with things such as poverty, maltreatment, persecution, and want?

Well, yes and no. Is it wrong to have wealth and live in a nice house? No. Is it wrong to have wealth, live in a nice house and prefer those things over a life given for the sake of Christ? Yes.

And that’s the issue Paul was addressing. I don’t believe Paul had anything against working a well-paying job, having a nice house and raising a good family. These things that are the makeup of the American Dream are not evil. But the motives of the heart that cause us to chase these things instead of Christ are. The Corinthians were choosing to avoid struggles and looking different for the sake of their own comfort.

So how does this apply to us and our soon departure from Haiti?

Well, we’re working on it, praying through it, and writing about it. But somehow we have to move this from elusive concept to tangible. We need to put skin to this realization that, truly, we can’t get soft.

I need to desire, like Paul, to be the “scum of the earth” (look soon for Brian’s newest blog sharing the same title). My care for the shiny things of this world must be so diminished to that of my desire for Christ that it seems I hate them.

So forgive me for not wrapping this writing piece up all nice and neat for you. This writing, along with my life, is a work in progress. We’re learning how to live differently. We’re learning how to make our lives a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). We’re learning how to take Haiti home and not leave it and all of its lessons on the runway in Miami. Mostly, we’re learning how to not go soft.

– Courtney

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:1-2

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