& you're wired for struggle,
but you are worthy
of love & belonging."
The other day I had the chance to do something that made me realize how truly beautiful this phenomenon is. I got to sit down with five women who have made my life in South Africa so wonderful. Each of them, plus a few more who couldn’t make it, have been vital to my well being while learning how to function as an adult and a missionary at the same time, into living halfway across the world from my blood family, and into a completely different culture from my own. These ladies have all done something so incredible. They have each adopted me as their own. These women have taken me under their wing with the rest of their family. I know I belong when I am with them. I am not alone because I know that I have these mamas who are always willing to take me in. I also know that when I’m with them I’ll get a decent amount of crooning over and some whipping into shape. A scolding for each new piercing and tattoo; except for Ruth, who has that awesome eyebrow piercing. She’s always got my back. Anyways, an adoration when I wear something that they think suits me. And a quick request for help making pap or scrubbing pots if I’m not busy. What I’m saying is that these ladies truly do treat me like I am theirs. And that is such a good, stable, and lovely thing to have.
While I was back in the states a few months ago, I was telling my own mother about all of these things. That I felt safe and didn’t miss her so much because I had each one of these ladies. I told her all of the hilarious stories having to do with these women, and how having these stories to share with people made me not so lonely. Without realizing it, I was bridging two very meaningful groups of people together. I was building a relationship between my different family members. My mother has become so grateful for these women, even though she’s never met them. She knows that I have a place here in South Africa, and that being so far away from my first home is worth it because I’m making new family members. She knows I am safe, and that I am accepted as a daughter here.
And so she did something about it. I also happened to tell her how much the ladies would complement me on the different clothes that she had made for me. So she decided to sew an apron for each of these ladies. As she cut the cloth, sewed the pieces together, and packed them each in a tight roll to fit in my suitcase she prayed over my aunties. She prayed a blessing over their families, over their work, over every part of their lives. She thanked God for them. She put her love, acceptance, and thankfulness into each seam. By binding these little pieces of cloth together, she had a much bigger purpose. She was building and binding family. She was accepting these women as her sisters.
I wish my Mom could have been there when I gave them the aprons and told them about her prayer over their family. It's not that they were just excited or happy to get the aprons. A tide of joy swept through them. Their eyes were filled with such wonder, peace, and encouragement. In turn, they got to feel the same belonging that I did. And that was such a wonderful thing to be able and allowed to give. Because everyone deserves this feeling, this fact, this assurance. Though none of us are perfect or can add up our strengths to "deserve" love, it is necessary to have love if we are to live our lives well. Because family is what makes a person thrive.