on fences

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I didn't want a white picket fence.

Let me give you a scenario. There's a girl [me] whose just returned from living on a farm in rural Nicaragua. Showers happened when it rained enough, electricity was powered by the sun, and numbers 1 & 2 were done outside. She was also sleeping under a mosquito net, in a bed made of bamboo.

There's a guy who emailed this girl every two weeks and is seeing her for the first time, in a long time, on New Year's Eve.

Any bit of romance was shot with my ranting about what I had done and seen and been exposed too. Nothing says "let's kiss at midnight" than the words - compost toilet. I was completely out of sorts and confused and figured this guy wouldn't understand.

And I figured he was the kind of guy who wanted a pretty house with a well manicured lawn, surrounded by a white picket fence. And at this moment in time, that landscape and lifestyle made me so angry and upset.

I wish I could say I didn't yell, though I think I did. I totally yelled when he said he needed to go the bathroom and I couldn't understand why he wouldn't just go outside beside the tree.

I mean, that's what I had done for the past 2 months.

"It's freezing cold, Maeve. And, there is a bathroom inside."

Mmmm. Yes. You are right.

Though for a girl who had been exposed to a developing country for the first time, my world was flipped upside down and inside out. Nothing felt the same. I cried on my Dad's shoulder when a friend asked if I wanted to get a pedicure.

Travel changes us. I believe that with all my heart. But as time goes on, as we remain "home', it gets easier to settle back in. Suddenly, you don't have a nervous break down in a grocery store. Suddenly, a hot a shower and toilet and pedicure seem pretty nice.

But it's the fences. And here's the deal, I don't dislike fences. I actually find a white picket fence surrounding a garden or patio really beautiful. We currently have a fence.

It's the feeling of comfort, of convenience, of standing still.

Because lately I've prayed a big prayer. I've prayed to be used up, I've prayed for God to hijack my day. I've prayed that He'll make it about Him completely.

But sometimes I pray with hands clenched tight.

I pray to be used up, yes, but in a way that I see fit. My plan's the best plan, right?

I pray for God to hijack my day. But please Lord, don't inconvenience or change my schedule too much. I've got things to do and people to see.

I'll pray for God to use us, on our street and in this world. And yet I see my neighbors sitting on their front stoop; the little girl with curls blowing bubbles. What if I walked over with some chalk and drew a picture with that little girl and talked with her mom?

There is power in the small acts of love y'all. So much power.

I pray to be ripped of my comforts - a hot shower and warm bed. But God, I really love gathering folks in my home, so having enough space to do that would be helpful.

Do you see what's happening here friend? Clenched fists. An inability to truly surrender. A "me" focus.

I hold so tightly to things - a home for gathering, quiet mornings, a busy schedule that I have control of. I set up boundaries without even realizing it.

Be vulnerable but not too vulnerable.

Be available but only when it works for me.

And boundaries are needed, yes. They are good. We can't give to every single person on this planet. We can't meet every need.

But what happens when our boundaries become a fortress? What happens when we've built a fence around our heart and folks can't find a place to come sit and stay a while?

Truth is, this prayer is messy and uncomfortable.

It calls us to conversations that may leave us tired in the morning. It calls us to introduce ourselves to the woman next door with hardened eyes and thick skin. It calls us to get rid of our stuff and spend money on people who may never pay us back.

It calls us to quit our jobs, sell our stuff, say no when we really want to say yes.

And that can be a scary prayer. But in all the mess and awkward moments, it seems worth it too. It's seems worth it to relinquish control, to give until it hurts, to surround ourselves with people in need of community.

I want to challenge us [me included] to step outside the fence. To see what lies on the other side. I think it might be better. I think it might be worth it.

And what if we encouraged each other when we do it? What if we cheered each other on?

So here's my request: Can you share your small act of love in the comment section below? And if you don't want to toot your own horn [though, I think you should] toot somebody else's.

In one week I'm going to pick one person. That person will receive a small gift from me in the mail. Who doesn't love mail?

Share below dear ones. Small acts of love y'all - that's all it takes.

xoxo