Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent, whatever is praiseworthy, think on these things.
Lately I have been contemplating the whatever moment. 'Whatever' is an interesting word depending on how you say it and where you place the emphasis. It can be taken to mean "so what" like who cares but I rather like thinking of this word in terms of whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to be true, whatever it takes to be noble, whatever it takes to be pure, whatever it takes to be lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
I recently travelled to Uganda as part of a global team, volunteering for two weeks at baby Watoto. While over there I had opportunity to think on these things and put all of this into practice. As our plane began its decent I was overcome with emotion. I was finally achieving a long held dream. I was sharing this journey with two friends and a team of six other girls from around the world. It had been a long and arduous road. We had fundraised for much of the year and been thoroughly consumed with preparing for this trip. Multiple vaccinations had been taken, families sorted, bags packed and plans set in motion. My dream was about to come true.
Upon disembarking from the plane I walked down the steps with a sense of exhilaration and purpose. Coming to the last step I jumped onto the tarmac with both feet landing firmly on African soil. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. My ' Whatever is Admirable' moment was in full swing. I was completely enamoured and inspired by this beautiful country and was lapping up the EXTRA - ORDINARY sights, sounds and smells not to mention the thoughts, feelings and emotions swirling around within. A paradigm shift was about to begin.
While in Uganda I had the privilege of visiting 3 babies homes and 3 Watoto Children’s' Villages. Each babies home has four babies being cared for by one nanny and in the children's villages they have 8 children living in a small 3 bedroom house with a Watoto village mother. Watoto does an exceptional job of rescuing, rebuilding and raising up the next generation of Ugandan leaders. It was an honour to partner with this organization and extend the hand of kindness to the orphans and vulnerable women of Uganda. I shall never be the same. A heart change has taken place.
Practicing "My whatever is Noble' and 'Right' opportunities were pure delight. Being concerned with matters of dignity and justice has been my mission for some time now and bringing a just and favourable response to all that I said and did flowed easily. Some of my most significant memories doing this were in the small unexpected moments, in particular encouraging the nanny's who looked after the babies with words of affirmation, championing them on in their endeavours and my favourite - taking photos of the nanny's with their babies and telling them how beautiful they were. I loved the shy smiles that this would bring to their faces. My spirit sang aloud its vibrant and ardent song.
Working on the 'True' aspects of this verse were somewhat challenging however as I smiled when I felt like frowning, held my tongue when I wished to say more and offered thoughtfulness to frustrating situations. To be real, genuine and authentic in every interaction requires one to press the pause button ... Stop, think, act and then move forward. I felt somewhat stretched but know that there is growth in the stretch. Not concerned with the stretch marks across my soul.
Outworking my 'Lovely' aspirations meant purposeful choices to live graciously and delightfully while choosing to see joy and beauty in the unexpected ... both the good and the bad. This can sometimes be breathtaking (literally). Don't you just love how God uses the humanity of others to mould, scrape and shape your character? Suffice to say there were times that I felt like a little piece of clay and being 'Pure' (absolute, straightforward and unaffected) in all circumstances was somewhat of a challenge.
Just a few challenges.
1. Upon arrival at the airport we were rudely treated by a group of passengers attempting to beat us to customs. Bumping into my heels with the luggage trolley three times is not an accident. Ow!!!
2. One of the babies experienced serious heat stroke and went into full body convulsions while out on a walk. Fortunately we were nearing the compound gate and we were able to rush the baby down the driveway to get immediate medical attention. A rather scary moment as the bub was pulled from the stroller to receive life saving support. Life is so fragile.
3. A mad dash for the plane due to a lack of announcements and final calls for passengers being made at the airport. We suddenly hear that our flight out of Dubai is about to close ... What!!!!! We rush to customs and are ushered through a side room. The sprint is on. As I make it through the x-ray machines in record time (thanks to some careful line negotiation better known as jumping the queue.) I mouth to my friend that I’ll run on ahead and flag down the plane. I wish that at this stage I could say that super human strength propelled me forward but alas I would be lying. As I streaked ahead, hyperventilation took over, heart palpitations increased and the adrenalin kicked in. (Adrenalin always gives me the shakes) Dizziness ensured as I sucked in the air for my pathetically gasping lungs. Feeling somewhat breathless and faint I arrived at the departure lounge completely and utterly out of breath only to discover that the plane was not about to taxi down the runway as we had been informed. But too late - my body was now way out of control. As I gasped dramatically for air, my brain struggling for oxygen. All I can get out to the concerned attendants is “Don’t leave without my friends”… which I repeat a number of times like a stuck record … just in case they do not understand me. I can tell they are not impressed. Their faces say it all. I am politely but firmly restrained with their words and facial expressions. They inform me politely but firmly, that I must sit down to recover from my breathlessness. I seriously feel like saying ‘Whatever!’ but with a lot of attitude. Now, I’m concerned I might not get on the plane in my disheveled state. Aaaahhhhh!!!!! Eventually we board the plane. I am now acutely aware of how unfit I really am and decide I could do with a whole body makeover – heart, soul and body too!
I am so thankful (My 'Praiseworthy' moment) to have been able to exceed and go above and beyond what I know and to relish the applaudable, commendable and laudable moments of life. I am richer for the experiences in Africa, having lifted the lid on my own self imposed restrictions and having broken free of smokescreens, illusions and things that might limit me. I pushed through fears, worries and concerns. I have chosen to not live small, contained or hemmed in ... how about you?
“Limits exist only in the mind” ~ Author unknown.
To be concerned with matters of dignity and justice, to be enamoured by what is inspiring and different, to exceed and go above and beyond what I know and to bring a just and favourable response to those thoughts, ideals and circumstances. What and honour and privilege!
To live graciously and delightfully, seeing joy and beauty in the unexpected and relish the applaudable, commendable and laudable moments of life. What an amazing life we get to live!