The thought of leaving my world and my children for five days and heading to a foreign country stirred up a whole lot of emotion in this Mama. There was so much to do to get ready for the trip (not including the mountain of laundry and a majorly backed up to-do list) and, after already being away for multiple weekends this fall, I questioned why I even said “Yes” to this in the first place. On top of it all, our normal separation anxiety issues, school struggles, and behavior ‘challenges’ seemed to be at an all-time high. As our departure day approached, so did an emotional breakdown.
One aspect of trip preparation I was too overwhelmed to even touch was language learning. This was going to be a short trip, mostly consisting of meetings where a translator would be present to help us communicate. I was sure I could learn the few basic phrases I needed once we got there.
The two major languages spoken in Haiti are Haitian Creole and French. Since Haitian Creole is derived primarily from French, I wondered if any of my three years of that in high school would come back. Unlikely, I thought, since that was 20 (yikes!) years ago.
My first 24-hours in Haiti left me feeling very overwhelmed in terms of the language. So many signs and so much conversation happening all around me that I didn’t understand. Even with our amazing translators helping us out, I still felt lost.
So when we walked into the church in Cherette and I saw this verse (in French) painted on the wall, I immediately just asked someone what it meant.
Our NIV translates it like this:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
I looked at it again and the light bulbs started to come on.
Oh – fatigues! That looks like our word “fatigued” which means tired or weary.
Oh – moi! That means “me”.
And a moi – that would be “to me”.
And venez. I remember that – it means “come”.
Yep, and vous – that’s a plural “you”.
Qui means “who”.
Oh, and I bet donnerai is like our word “donate”, which is like “give”.
It turns out I could have translated it myself – all I had to do was break it down. Break it down into pieces and filter it through what I already knew.
We all face situations that overwhelm us. Sometimes they build over a long period of time. Others seem to appear out of nowhere. Regardless, we often lump them together as one big mess of stuff that we don’t want to (or don’t think we can) deal with.
But I’ve found that the solution to the breakdown can be found in the break down. All I need to do is take the overwhelming situation and break it into smaller pieces, figuring out exactly what it is that I’m worried, scared, frustrated, or upset about. And then I just need to filter each of those things through the lens of what I already know about God and how He has worked in my life.
“But my to do list is SO long!”
Translation: God has proven that His hand is in all the details. How many times have I not gotten to something – and then it turns out that I didn’t need to do it in the first place or that waiting on it actually turned out better?
“And my laundry pile is huge!”
Translation: God has called me to be a balanced mom, not a “Supermom”. There are times when what He is calling me to do (whether it’s spending daily time in His Word or traveling to Haiti) needs to take priority. And when I say “Yes” to Him, I feel like He then works ‘fishes and loaves’ with the rest of my time.
“Can I really leave my kids right now?”
Translation: My Heavenly Father is an infinitely greater parent to my children than I will ever be and my illusions of control are exactly that. And who knows? Maybe the time away from me will actually help them.
By the end of our few days in Haiti, my confidence had grown, and instead of feeling overwhelmed, I found myself (very) roughly translating any words I could figure out from signs, posters, menus – you name it! (Madame Marquis would be so proud!)
Maybe you’re facing an overwhelming situation today – or maybe one is just around the corner. An emotional breakdown may seem imminent, but in Christ you can face whatever it is with confidence – if you’ll just take a few moments to break it down.