In a world of clean apartments and 9-5’s, I forgot that anything could be this charming. I forgot that there are surroundings and courtyards that are so inspiring, so full of color that it’s all I can do not to write, not to paint, not to capture every single detail.
This trip to Guatemala was completely unexpected.
I was invited on this trip by one of my bosses, Jeff Goins, a writer who was bringing people out to experience being Wrecked. I was honored by the invitation and excited to travel, but when it came time to go, I didn’t want to leave. Even thinking about going made me homesick and I couldn’t help but count all of the things that I should be doing instead.
But this morning as I woke up to the familiar sound of a rooster crowing, to the local cathedral bells tolling, my heart took a breath.
Quiet times have been my most precious time with the Lord for as long as I’ve known him. I learned what it meant to spend uninterrupted time with him in the morning on my first mission trip to Costa Rica.
I remember the first few days staring awkwardly at my journal, not knowing what to write or what to say, but after a day or so, the prayers began to pour- starting a practice that would become a staple of my relationship with God.
I woke up SUPER early this morning, because I knew that I wanted the same experience. I knew that something magical happens when you give a piece of the morning to the Lord- when you wake with the sun and drink it in together.
And so I climbed out of bed at 6:15 this morning and came to sit in the courtyard of our hostel.
I walked downstairs, my laptop cradled in my arms and my bible in hand, and the sight that met me absolutely brought me to tears.
I’m sitting in a small tiled courtyard, on a yellow stone bench. I’m surrounded by 20-foot walls, lovingly covered with a seemingly ancient vine. Everything is either painted a sunny yellow or a rich, bright blue, both faded with time and with love.
This garden is beautiful in a way that touches the deepest parts of me. It’s restorative in a way that I didn’t even know I needed.
I have no idea why I’m here (other than to be the resident videographer- YES my job is the best!). But I really have no idea what God is going to do in this tiny garden of time. What I do know is if this courtyard is any indication- I’m in.
If I’m being really honest, I showed up here in Guatemala pretty disgusted with myself. I was disgusted by own imperfection and disgusted with the fact that I couldn’t manage to show myself grace.
I’ve felt like I’ve been in a hole recently- feeling unlovable and unloved, the love around me unable able to penetrate through my own lack of love and grace for myself.
I don’t know why I feel this way, but I do. I feel messy and imperfect and angry with myself that I’m still buying into that same old lie.
To be perfect is to be loved- the lie says. And although I think I’ve made progress, I haven’t made it all the way to the other side.
This afternoon I walked around Antigua with my new friend Carolina. We walked in silence until we both stopped suddenly, overwhelmed by the sheer power of the building to our right.
It’s an old church, a cathedral really, that must have fallen down years ago. It looks ancient, like an undiscovered, untouched ruin. Which I guess is exactly what it is.
We were transfixed, taking in every eroded detail, tears slipping quietly down our cheeks. It was the most beautiful church I’d ever seen.
“This is a mess Lord,” I told him, as if he couldn’t see it. “It’s a mess but it’s so unbelievably beautiful. It’s amazing to me that something so messy and broken could be so beautiful, and so full of your spirit.”
“Exactly,” he replied, and all of a sudden I knew we were no longer talking about the church.
My heart began to beat faster as it all clicked into place.
The power of God and the ability to be part of his story doesn’t require perfection, it doesn’t require having it all together. And that church was a perfect example.
I’ve never seen something more broken in my life, but I’ve also never seen something more beautiful. Staring at the brokenness through those locked up gates felt like staring God straight in the face- it felt holier than most churches I’ve attended.
Messiness does not discount us from love. Being perfect will not earn us the love we desire, no matter what we may sometimes believe.
And to top it all off, God told me this.
“You think that you want to earn love, to deserve it when it’s given to you. That way it’s not out of your control, it’s something that you can manipulate your way into keeping, if you’re on your best behavior. But the best kind of love isn’t deserved. It’s the opposite. It’s a free gift that is completely undeserved, full of mercy and grace and acceptance. That’s the best kind of love.
Because when you earn something, it’s no longer a gift, it’s payment.
And I have a better kind of love for you than that.”
I’m beginning to understand why God brought me here.