I had come to Mendenhall, Mississippi to SAVE MENDENHALL. What followed was how Mendenall, Mississippi saved me! First thing I did was tell my mission team during our group discussion and prayer time that I was in an unhappy stage in my marriage. No more faking it. I was hurting inside. I hurt all over. Thing is, no one upon hearing this, seemed surprised. No one. Without judgment, this team lovingly went about helping me see how my actions and attitudes were contributing to my current situation. I was controlling, selfish, and inflexible in so many ways. "I don't use other people's linen, why is that hole dripping on me?, why isn't the bus chartered?, I don't clean bathrooms, I will only work on the farm for a day, I must have access at all times to my cell phone........etc." The team had seen it all along.
I had come to Mendenhall as an executive, business owner, mother and then wife. What I needed to become was a wife, mother and then and only then, whatever else God might bless into my life. I was living according to my plans, my vision, my, my, my. Never realizing how my behaviors were diminishing any hope of my having a sustainable loving partnership with God's match for my life, my husband. I was blowing it. I hated myself for it too.
I also began to notice how the community in Mendenhall treated one another. These humble people who I was so convinced needed something from me, did not. I met young men who forewent going to college so they could work and send a younger sibling to college first. Women who worked multiple jobs to care for an ailing spouse. All without a single complaint. Church women who took the vegetables that we picked off the farm and made beautiful displays of culinary delight for our enjoyment. All for us. Not one bite for themselves. Women who had no extra to give yet asked us if we needed any thing? One woman brought me a blanket from home. The best she had. Over and over completely godly acts from people of peace and love.
The time on the farm was part of God's design for my life. He needed to wear me down to bring me up. While I was so busy judging others for "cheating me" out of the vegetables I so laboriously picked, God was speaking into my spirit this. "You did not grow anything. You only picked what I made possible." What a perfect metaphor for my life.
When people handed me pennies it was only God who could turn that into dollars for their benefit. What they did with their vegetables they bought was simply none of my business. I grew nothing on that farm. I was in charge of nothing. I needed to worry about me.
I eased over by the pig sties. As I stared down at my tarnished steel toe boots I wept. I removed my bandana and cried desperate tears until the bandana became stained with my cries for redemption and forgiveness. I said aloud, "I am ready Lord. Please forgive me. I am ready to hear from you."
I had the opportunity to work in town with young children that final day of the mission trip. I opted instead to return to the farm. When I returned, I was renewed. I worked that farm like I was working for God himself. I picked happily, washed happily, and handed off what we had picked happily. And though I wore lip gloss, I smelled not a single hint of stench.