One thing I know for sure is that my heart and my life will never be the same. This journey to Africa has not been easy and at times it has been down right ugly. BUT I want to be real even if it hurts. If I had to guess, I bet you want to be real too.I love children’s books and I love the story about the Velveteen Rabbit.
“What is REAL?” the Velveteen Rabbit asked the Skin Horse one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
A huge part of our journey here has been our life with Vusumzi. If you don’t know the story he is a double orphan and has had to live with things in his life that no child should ever have to live with…ever. Lots of people ask what will happen to him and if it will be hard to say goodbye to him.
It is a day that I have tried not to think about since I first met him. I decided at the very beginning that I was going to love him with my whole heart even if I was scared that doing so would break my heart. Fear isn’t a reason to hold back.
So back to the question…my answer is this…I don’t know exactly what will happen to Vusi. He will go live in the Ubuntu Academy House for now. And yes, it is heartbreaking telling him goodbye. There is a huge hole in my heart, an emptiness really and a few months ago I really didn’t think I would be able to walk away. Obedience isn’t always easy. But God has slowly been filling in all those empty places in my heart and what I have learned is this…
Vusumzi isn’t mine. He is the Lord’s. Just like Jackson and Grace aren’t mine either…they belong to Him too. I have the privilege to love them and teach them everything I can about Jesus, life, and love TODAY because I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I can’t hold onto them too tightly and I can’t hold onto them more than I hold onto God.
Sure my kids, my husband, my friends, my family all have places in my heart but they can’t FILL me like Jesus can and until I fully accept that I will always have places inside me that feel empty. I will have days that feel “less than” what they should be. BUT when God has His proper place on the throne in my life then my heart can truly say:
“This is the day the Lord has made; I will REJOICE and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24
We walk around for too long in life disappointed because we put the wrong things on the throne. We expect things to fill our hearts with joy…things that just can’t completely do that. A wise woman once told me in a bible study group that if you put your husband on the throne in your life you are asking him to be God and you will always be disappointed because he can never fulfill that role. When God is on the throne then you leave room for your husband to be who God created him to be.
I would say that this could be said about lots of things…children, careers, paychecks, houses, friends, status…when we care more about those things than we care about our father in Heaven then we are asking those things to fill us up. The problem is those things never ever will. They just weren’t made to do it.
God is the ultimate healer. He is the only one that can make my heart whole. God is the only one that can make Vusumzi’s heart whole too. So we talked about it. Vusi and I shared how much we have enjoyed this journey together and how much we love one another. We have shared our hopes and prayers for this not to be a forever goodbye but we both have prayed too for His will not ours. I hope our paths will cross again and if or when they do, I hope that our hearts will recognize one another.
God is so good. He is so tender. He loves us so much. Being “real” to me means less of me and more of HIM. I want to love like Jesus does and I want to ONLY look to God to fill up the empty spaces in my heart.
It isn’t easy but Vusumzi and I are going to be ok. Our hearts are in good hands. Our part is to love big, live surrendered, be obedient, and leave the rest to Jesus.
“Lord, you are my portion.” – Psalm 119:57
From South Africa with love,
– Melissa Hall
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