A wise woman (who I refer to as mom) once told me, “If you can drive in the streets of Miami, Florida, you can drive anywhere!”
Well mom, I’ll see your Miami and raise you a South Africa.
It’s a magical land where few people stop when the robot is red (robots = traffic lights for my American friends), and even fewer people decide to look both ways before sprinting wildly across the middle of the road. Thankfully, I am accustomed to those people who drive way below the speed limit, I am familiar with getting cut off in traffic, and I am no stranger to the lovely folks who refuse to put on their blinkers when they frantically decide to switch lanes (blinkers = indicators for my South African friends). It’s been about a week so far driving my rental car (on the left side of the road), and I have yet to crash into anyone. Hallelujah.
Overall, I am most grateful for the quality time spent with my courageous passengers (who are willing to risk their lives by driving with this crazy American … but I digress).
This week I have had the privilege of spending some sweet time in the car with my good friend Ashulita. She coaches with me at training4changeS, and she is one of the strongest women I have ever met. I have so much admiration for her as a mother, as a coach, and as an athlete. Like so many other girls who live in homes where their parents are indifferent and/or out of the picture, Ash was told that she wouldn’t amount to anything in life. However, each time an obstacle stood in her way, she would conquer it. She never gave up, she never gave in, and she never gave a HOOT about what her “haters” thought. She is a wonderful example of hope and perseverance to her adorable 7 year old daughter and to the young soccer players she coaches at Luckhoff High School. When I think about Ashulita’s character, there are three words that specifically come to mind: selfless, strong, and driven.
You would never know about the many trials this incredible woman is facing at home, unless she personally told you about them. She is full of joy and laughter, she doesn’t let tough circumstances get her down, and she can tear up a soccer pitch like nobody’s business.
It’s truly a beautiful experience when someone unlocks the door of their heart to let you inside. Ashulita has given me that honor, and it has already influenced me in so many ways. She has graciously allowed me to love her, and that’s quite a big deal. By loving and serving Ash, my messy heart is slowly learning how to receive that same kind of love from others. It’s contagious and powerful, and when it begins to flow from the inside out … it’s unstoppable.
I found out several days ago that Ashulita’s grandmother is dying. Yesterday, I had the privilege of driving with her to the hospital to pick up the medications that her grandmother needed for the week. Ash didn’t care how much the meds would cost or how long the wait would be; she had purposed in her heart to do whatever it would take no matter the sacrifice.
And it made me think… Do I love like that? Am I willing to go the extra mile and inconvenience myself for another? Would I sacrifice my own comfort, security, money, and time for someone who needed help … even if they couldn’t give me anything back in return?
If I die tomorrow, I want to be known as someone who knew how to love well. Genuinely, completely, and recklessly. Without limitation, without judgement, and without a “return and exchange” clause. My love will always be ridden with imperfection, but there is one who’s love is so much greater than my own. Jesus loved the unlovable. He reached out and touched the untouchable. He got His hands and feet dirty for the sake of those who couldn’t get themselves clean, and that is the kind of person I want to be. I am just as dirty as anyone else, but Jesus chose to love me for who I am AND for who I am not. He knew exactly what He was getting Himself into long before He began stumbling down the long road to Calvary. He knew about my bad habits, my insecurities, and my failures. He knew that I would never be able to love Him back the way that He freely and completely loves me, yet He chose to call me His own anyways.
That’s a mind blowing kind of love. It’s a love that covers a multitude of wrongs, it casts out all fear, and it is 100% unconditional. There’s a deep peace that comes from knowing that nothing can separate me from God’s love. It allows me to love without fear of rejection and/or fear of isolation. As I draw closer to the people around me through a variety of life experiences and relationships, I am able to embrace and rest in the fact that love is (and will always be) … the most excellent way.