An Open Letter to My On-the-Field Sisters

Necklace

Dear friends,

Today I wore a fancy necklace. It’s just cheap costume jewelry, but it belongs to a heart sister who left it for me to wear while she’s in the States for a year, so I would think of her. That’s part of why I wore it, but also because it goes well with the flour under my fingernails and the dirt between my toes, and some days I just need to be reminded that I’m the King’s daughter.

It glinted in the sunshine as I walked my youngest to school through rainy season puddles. It laid precious heavy against my chest as I chatted with some of you at the store’s meat counter and when I bought six guavas and a pile of lemons from the friendly old woman whose slurred words are hard to catch. My little one climbed up on a chair and played with it and leaned against me as I stirred supper on the stove, and I, royalty in my veins, slumped tired at the end of a long day.

And I stood there and wondered if you ever feel the way I sometimes do. Do you wonder how all this, the hanging clothes and filtering water and helping with homework and struggling with a language, all adds up to ministry? Do you wonder if this is really what you moved halfway around the world for?

There are days I feel these things big, and then just as quickly I’m overwhelmed by the too-much of this life we live. My friend walked from her village to my house yesterday and told me with a forced smile and bloodshot eyes that her little nephew had died suddenly the day before. I gave her rice and oil and sugar to help with the funeral and stood with a knot in my throat, not knowing what else to do. A hug and a promise to pray, and I returned to life with my own healthy children. And how do you not feel guilty that we can afford medical care my friend can only dream of?

I know there are times I wear the tension of all these things on my face, and I’ve seen it on yours, too. It seems we’re all a little soul bruised.

A bunch of weary, sun weathered, dirty toed princesses who sometimes wonder what this is all about.

So, sweet friends, let’s hold each other gently. We are more similar than we can imagine. We’re also more different than we can imagine. And somehow we become family, over seasons of goodbyes and hellos and birthdays and holidays and our kids all growing together like cousins. And grace… Grace is the only way we can make this work. You and I both know we’re a mess. But we’re a royal mess.

We are Queen Esther, here in this place for such a time as this. You and I were brought here for each other, just as surely as we were brought here so people God loves can have His Word. God means us to be here together for a time, to learn what it means to love, to live big and laugh loud and welcome each other into our broken places, to wrestle

with real life and let each other smooth out our rough edges.

And in the way only God can write a story, our days bleed into weeks, and we bleed our uniqueness and color each other, and He bleeds His life through us and spills out hope to the people all around.

You and I can hold our heads high as we rescue laundry from the rain again and answer emails and try to wrap our tongues around unfamiliar sounds and make tea for new friends, because this is why we’re here. This feeling the weight of the needs here and the smallness of our ability to do anything about it, the homesickness and hard questions, the griefs and glories that drive us to our knees in front of the throne. This is abundant life.

And let me say, friends, I sure am glad we’re in this together.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter2:9 NIV)

5 Comments

  1. Kate
    Jan 22, 2016

    This is so true, and so beautiful, Beth. Grace and peace to all of you out there.

    • beth
      Jan 22, 2016

      Thanks, friend. Miss having you here!

  2. NSmith
    Jan 22, 2016

    Your mom would be proud of your writing! Whatever happened to the devotional she writing?

    • beth
      Jan 27, 2016

      She got sixteen chapters done, and I only have a few of them. I would love to finish her book one of these days, as a devotional biography. One of these days… 🙂

  3. Ellie
    Jan 27, 2016

    Poetry coming out of pain. May your heart be held and comforted through all the “otherness” of your life there. We love you from a distance.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.