Stand Tall

I can still remember so vividly the day I took this photo. Towards the end of year one in Mexico. April. When the sun was hot and heavy in the cruelest most unrelenting way.

My hands were cracking and sore from a lack of moisture in the air-anywhere actually-and I could hardly get myself out of bed to go to work each morning. Without a lot of tears anyways.

On this afternoon, walking home from another very draining day with nine three-year-olds in a tiny space, I couldn’t stop the tears. The sun was hot and I just wanted to go to sleep. I was sure I had nothing left to offer those tiny humans.

I was particularly struggling through a strained relationship with my boss. Fighting every day to let the harsh and discouraging comments roll off and keep giving my best and responding positively. I didn’t want to speak negatively or roll my eyes or speak disrespectfully, but i was sort of at the end of myself. I was starting to believe that all of those responses would be fair and justified. That at this point, I had a right to them.

And then I was reminded of the scripture that I had stumbled upon the day before. The way it had cut so quickly to the center of my heart.

“Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless.”

I threw my head back in pure exhaustion. The tears didn’t stop. But I saw this palm tree. Towering above the others all around it. Beautiful against the bright blue sky. Lovely to look at although it was nearly touching the face of that cruel and relentless Mexican sun.

I took a deep breath and wiped away some of the tears and decided this would be my mantra moving forward. That I would say it a zillion times if need be and I would find a way to stand tall and lovely in spite of how close I was to the cruel and unrelenting “sun.” That in spite of the heat, I would stay rooted. I would accept that I was no exception to these standards and expectations.

None of us are. That never changes.

And every time I see this photo, I remember a very bittersweet moment. The end of myself and the beginning of Christ living through me. How I stood tall the remainder of that year and kept smiling and giving my best (the best I had then anyways) in spite of my closeness to the heat. How I prayed through the tears each morning before work and with every step on my way to. How I embraced those last few months with those littles and laughed as hard as we could as often as we could until the very end. How I leaned harder into the precious friends Jesus had gifted me in that space and learned a deeper sense of vulnerability and friendship than I maybe ever had before.

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