We talk to a lot of people about Guatemala. The subject of moving to another country on mission comes up in almost all of my conversations recently. People ask me if I’m nervous or excited. They ask how Bryce (my 8-year-old) is feeling about the move. People truly care how we’re doing and it’s nice when people ask. But there’s one question that I get from time to time that makes me squirm a little – the question of safety. Although we will be living in a safer area, Guatemala City’s Zone 18 (where we will be working) is not a safe place. I often have people ask me how I could take my children there.
Aren’t you scared? What if something happens? Why would you do that?
One person even said to me “You live in one of most well-respected, safest, most comfortable cities in Georgia, why would you want to leave?” It’s true. The area we live in is one of the highest ranked for safety and enjoyment in the southeastern United States. It’s very comfortable. My home is comfortable. Bryce’s school is comfortable. Our lifestyle of baseball games on weekends, nights out with friends, date nights, TV shows, unlimited wifi, home cooked meals, and as much clean water as our hearts desire – it’s all really dang comfortable and, honestly, sometimes I want to stay. Some moments I think about the fact that all we would have to do is say “never mind we’re not going”, and I could stay home. I’m not going to lie to you, there are fleeting moments where that thought is tempting. I’ll miss my home, my friends, my ease of life.
But I’ve realized something quite significant over the past season of walking this journey. God has taught me (or at least tried to teach me) that the most dangerous place is not Zone 18 of Guatemala City – the most dangerous place I could be is trapped in the middle of my comfort zone.
Recently I watched a video where a professor was explaining how a lobster has to slough off it’s shell and grow a new one in order to thrive and grow. The same thing is true with snails, snakes, and many other creatures. When a lobster has to go hide under a rock and rip it’s shell from it’s naked body and put itself in that moment of complete vulnerability, with no safety net, it certainly can’t be comfortable. But this is a natural progression of it’s life cycle. Without taking off that shell and growing a new one, the lobster will begin to suffocate, shrivel up and die. I know this is a pretty morbid picture to explain my point. But, friends, are we not the same as the lobster? Without some sort of stretching, a challenge to the spirit, our souls will shrivel up. God has created us for more than settling into a valley of comfort surrounded by mountainous walls that keep out any view of new opportunities. God has created us to GO. To DO. To love and to serve and to put our own self-interest out of the way for his mission to be accomplished.
26…anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. 27 And anyone who wants to be first must be your slave.28 Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.”
-Matthew 20:26-28 (NIRV)
Of course, quitting your job and moving your family to another country may not be the way God is asking you to step out. For my family it IS, but it may be something different for you. It may be as simple as opening your home to a child in need of one. It won’t be comfortable. They will eat all of your food, and run up your water bill, and not understand all of your rules. But you could give them the type of love no one else ever has. For you it may be taking what feels like a demotion at work. You may make less money, and have to cut back on shopping or hobbies, but maybe you’ll have more hours at home with your family. It may be waking up earlier in the morning to start your day with scripture, or budgeting a financial giving plan with your spouse, or maybe just going to church every once in a while. Whatever the shell is that you have outgrown, don’t be afraid to put yourself in those moments of vulnerability so that your soul can stretch, thrive, and learn to serve. All God asks is for us to take that next step into that new shell and continue to grow. It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable, but it’s so worth it.
My dear friend Erin Armas (the wife of Hope for Guatemala’s founder) once said to me, through the sounds of both of us crying, “Becca there is no better place to be than the center of God’s will for your life.” For this next season of our lives, Zone 18 of Guatemala City is the center of God’s will for my family. There’s no better place for us to be.