Stepping On Toes to Freedom

by | Oct 10, 2012 | Uncategorized

“Bring them with you,” said Rwandan Archbishop Kolini as we huddled in conversation with stragglers left in the building. I took a step backward, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.  Actually, maybe it had but I couldn’t face it. The implications seemed too costly.

I was lamenting about living away from family members, worrying about what I would do with my children while H and I led a mission team to Rwanda for ten days. My kids were only ten and seven at the time, too young to travel that far away.

In the two seconds it took the Archbishop to say those words – bring them with you – many questions affirming why I couldn’t do it floated to my cerebral surface.

How would they handle thirty-six hours of travel and what if they got sick? What if they couldn’t eat the food? Would they take cold showers and sleep under a mosquito net without screens on the windows?

What if they caught some life threatening disease and we didn’t have access to medical attention, or it affected them for the rest of their lives? What if they had to go to the bathroom in a hole in the ground? What about the endless hours sitting on hard benches listening to someone speak in a language they couldn’t understand?

Then one ordinary Sunday morning while sitting in church, I closed my eyes and heard this phrase in my mind: “I didn’t call you to follow me in order to be comfortable and secure. All your reasons for not wanting the children to go with you are about those two things.”


He stepped on my toes, wounded my pride.

And we got their passports ready.

My kids slept for hours on the plane, folded over with their legs hanging down, necks contorted to the side. They never complained once about any of things that worried me.  Moreover, they never complained, period, even when Harrison’s Nintendo DS games went missing on our layover in Nairobi.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? ~ Matthew 6:27

And while we sat on a terrace overlooking Kigali, eating bananas and hard-boiled eggs, the Archbishop stood beside our table and said, “We know people really love us when they bring their children to Rwanda. We rarely see children visit because their parents are too afraid to bring them. So, thank you for loving us.”

Sometimes letting go of comfort and security, it’s the most loving and safe thing you can do.

I have a few blogging friends giving up warm showers, microwaves and time with family to go to Haiti this week.  They swallow malaria pills over meals and share their gift of prose so we can better know how to help the Haitian people recover from tragedy.  Because letting go of comfort and security, it’s the most loving and safe thing they can do.

Read about Help One Now Haiti Bloggers here. And this post by Dan King at Bible Dude on three reasons why you should follow their journey. This story by Duane Scott at Scribing the Journey is a haunting and honest account about his first night in Haiti.

Linking with Ann, Jennifer, WLWW, Emily, Duane.

This is the tenth post in the series 31 Days of Letting Go. You can read the collective here. If you are a writer, I invite you to link up any post you’ve written on the theme of letting go in the comments here on Friday. Subscribe to receive the series in your inbox or feed by adding your address in the side bar under Follow Redemptions Beauty.

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  1. vskessler

    I loved reading this as I love all those mentioned. I love the trust and faith that you took the kids at young ages. I love that all their lives they will remember with their memories of experiences. I loved the photos of a place I’ve longed to go for many years now. Most of all I love you for all of the above that you both provided for so many. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I hope you get to go some day Vicki. I hope I get to go again, even though things are different now. I’m thankful the kids will have those memories.

  2. Diana Trautwein

    I LOVED this story, Shelly. Thanks so much for sharing this piece of your journey in this space, and doing it so clearly and well.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Diana, so grateful we had this opportunity.

  3. Paula

    Letting go of comfort and security. You nailed it. And, I loved the verse from Matthew about the fruits of anxiety………there are none………when your faith can provide you with comfort and security.

  4. Lynn Morrissey

    OH Shelly…..the Archbishop’s statement is so profound: “We know people really love us when they bring their children to Rwanda.” This says it all. And that is what God said to you, too. He knew how much you loved Him when you risked bringing your children to a place where you feared doing so. And isn’t this what God says to us? We know how very much He loves us, because He sent *His* Son, Jesus, to this world for us! He loves us *that* much. I so empathized with your mother’s heart here. I so often fear letting Sheridan out of my sight….and my goodness! She’s twenty! I was leery of letting her go to the Czech Republic in 2011, so my dear friend Jo and I decided to go with her on a missions trip. There were actually two difficult incidents, but our Good Shepherd led us, with young, as He promises to do. I should have known! You learned this, too, and what a witness you and your precious family were. Your children are beautiful, as are your words. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Lynn, the Archbishop says a lot of profound things I’ve held close to my heart. That trip impacted us in so many ways. It was the beginning of five years of an effort to raise support for 80 orphans. An endeavor that enriched my life in ways I can’t put into words.

  5. simplystriving

    I wanna love like that, too…
    Beautiful write to go with your exquisite heart, Shelly.
    Thank you for spreading the word…

  6. Barbara Isaac

    “Sometimes letting go of comfort and security, it’s the most loving and safe thing you can do.”
    Indeed… thank you!

  7. Jillie

    Dear Shelly…May I say again how much this series of posts is helping me?! There really are so many areas of life where we need to let go…and let God. Just when we think we’ve mastered one area, He brings another one to light. This one today, is one I particularly struggle with. I like to keep things ‘safe and tidy’ in my life. To me, FEAR is the very close companion of ‘letting go’. I was a fearful child…I am a fearful ‘adult’. Growing up with weekend-alcoholic parents was so uncertain, risky, frightening, and unsure…well, I guess I still bear the pain and fear of that way of life. Anything new and out-of-the-box scares me to no end. I need some bravery here! I think it has a great deal to do with an untrustworthy Dad—and fearing that God might not be trustworthy, either. But I’m SLOWLY learning that He is most worthy of my trust.
    You have a beautiful family, Shelly. I’m so glad you ‘let go’ of your fear and took your children with you. They will never forget the experience of meeting and ministering to the Rwandan people you all met. Life-changing! And now you have used your experience to minister to fearful people like myself. Thank you so much, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Jillie, I’m so glad its been a blessing to you. That encourages me more than you know. I get what you are saying about having fear, possibly rooted in your parents alcoholism. I still struggle with trust too, not so much with God but with circumstances and people. We’ve had to unlearn years of messages from parents who weren’t trustworthy. In my own life, I’ve found that when I step out and do things that make me feel uncomfortable, things I would be afraid to do yet God leading me to them, it breaks the chains that keep me stuck. I think its a spiritual act, like saying I believe in God’s faith in me, more than the fear. May I encourage you to take some small steps Jillie and I think you’ll be surprised by joy.

  8. Mindy Bowman

    What an awesome memory your children now have! We took our youngest to Honduras last summer and all but one of our oldest kids have been…some of them several times. While we want to protect them from everything, we also need to let them see what the world is about to instill that spark in them to do something to make it better! Blessings to you today! 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, I’m so grateful we took them. It was a wonderful experience for all of us. As you probably know with your kids going to Honduras.

  9. Ms. Kathleen

    This is so awesome… What a blessing for you all !

  10. Christina

    Letting go is the most loving thing–so true! And this story is the perfect testimony to that. My fears for comfort often keep me from extending love. Thanks for this, Shelly!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Christina, trying to change that though.

  11. tara

    so glad you brought them. that you let your heart tear open for people {just as you do now}. what a wonderful example of letting go.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It made a huge impact on all of us, in many different ways. I hope we will be able to do that again, whether in Rwanda or somewhere else. My daughter loves doing mission trips now.

  12. Ben Nelson

    What a great testimony. What a great way to get your kids engaged in the kingdom of God. This is so inspiring move without fear. Yay – thank you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      To God be the glory Ben, thanks for stopping by today.

  13. V

    Wow! What an incredible testimony of letting go. Your children will be touched by this experience for the rest of their lives. You have given them a gift by allowing them to be a part of your blessing. What a wonderful mother you are.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Only God knows the lasting impression it will leave on them and I hope they will say wonderful when referring to me as their mother, thank you.

  14. Jennifer@GDWJ

    So cool to hear more about this part of your life journey, Shelly. What a great take on “letting go.” I’m so impressed with all of you “31-dayers.”

    • Redemption's Beauty

      This writing every day for 31 has been challenging but more of a blessing than I could have imagined.

  15. elizabethfstewart

    I’m late getting around to commenting on this. I get your posts via email and it makes me lazy about clicking over to the actual blog, unfortunately. My oldest granddaughter, age 9, and only grandson, age 8, have been to Ghana, with their parents, twice on missions trips, first for two months, then for six months. They adjust more easily than the adults, and get right in the middle of the action in ministering to the children there.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love how our family has had the experience in Africa. There is nothing to replace actually being out on the field absorbed in another culture. Thanks for clicking over and leaving a comment Elizabeth, appreciate you.

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