Sometimes eating our words can be a pleasant experience. But that’s not the kind of “eating” I’m thinking of here. Perhaps a more fitting title would be: “Things I thought I could never do but I was proved wrong and pleasantly surprised”. So often in my life I’ve said “I could never do that” or “I know that’s a good thing to do but I don’t have what it takes to do it”.
The first time was just after we got married when we moved to the inner, inner city of St. Louis amid sidewalks of broken glass, vacant buildings and racial hostilities to be part of a new mission church. I wanted to but didn’t think I would be able to. I felt I lacked the courage, boldness, faith and willingness to risk. But on one weekend in August, just six weeks after our wedding, we moved into that neighborhood, along with about 30 others to form a new church and learn to live in community within that neighborhood. Thus began the amazing adventure of being stretched beyond what I thought possible and learning about trusting, risking, loving in relationships in so many wonderful and surprising ways.
This became such a recurring pattern in our life such that I stopped say “I could never . . . “ because every time I said that it was like a challenge for God to prove me wrong and show me that I could do what I deemed impossible with Him. So I stopped saying that and tried instead to be more adventurous, courageous, willing to trust and take steps of faith into unknown areas (I don’t have space to list them all). I guess that’s why I’m now living in Burundi. And you’d think I’d really learned this lesson, but even so I get caught thinking or believing—“I could never. . . “ or “I wouldn’t be able to . . . “.
This is what I said about teaching evening classes for HAU. But once again I’ve had to eat my words! I just finished teaching an “Advance English” class to over 50 adult, graduate students. Something I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I would or could do. Not only that, but to my surprise and delight, it was really fun! I really enjoyed the time with the “students” and felt they received something from it too. It turned out to be one of my more pleasant Burundian experiences meeting, conversing and engaging with this diverse group of adult students, even though it meant driving across town in crazy traffic and returning home after dark.
I am grateful to the students, who made our time so enjoyable and interesting by their engaging participation even as most of them were coming from their own workday. I’m thankful too for another opportunity in which “eating my words” has not just been stretching in ways that are good for me but in ways that were sweet to experience.