Where I Am From

From an exercise based on George Ella Lyon’s poem, Where I Am From. This is my version.

Where I Am From

I am from escoba, mapo y Lestoil. I am from Villa Carolina, busy streets, and el palo de aguacate.
I am from Barbies & Nintendo behind barred windows.

I am from Abuela Carmen & Abuelo Felipe, Abuela Amarilys & Titi Nitty. I am from Mami & Papi (without Stephanie yet- though she was already in my heart).
I am from Rocky the dog who didn’t let me play with him, and Xuxa, the childhood idol.

I am from the ‘ay bendito,’ ‘bendición,’ & ‘Dios te bendiga;’ ‘que bochinche’ & ‘ten cuidado.’

I am from the summers in Florida that felt much calmer.

I am from the bacalaitos & alcapurrias.
I’m from the arroz con gandules, chuleta, bistec, & pernil.
I am from the limbel de coco, and the helado in viejo San Juan, walking with my parents – always afraid of the homeless with their sores.
I am from leche con Quik, & mas leche que café.

I am from la iglesia- la Alianza.
I’m from casa de Abulela y San Francis. I’m from the tiendita with Nutella. I am from Carolina, Ponce, & Isabela.

I am from the isla I wanted to leave, the isla I miss — the place where I first heard God.

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Called to be Uncomfortable

Everything that I’ve done in my life so far that’s been worth doing initially made me uncomfortable. The magic happens outside of our comfort zones.

Going on mission trips to 2/3 World Countries — uncomfortable. My (ongoing) ordination process with the UMC — uncomfortable. Counseling — uncomfortable. Volunteering in a hospice — uncomfortable. Moving to the ghetto to minister — uncomfortable. Moving to a place where I knew no one — uncomfortable. Going to college, then seminary — uncomfortable. Being vulnerable in my preaching, speaking, etc.  — uncomfortable.  And other random, seemingly minor things which resulted in important relationships, all spawned out of discomfort.  (A lot of these things that are ongoing still may initially make me uncomfortable then ironically result in my feeling the most complete.)

Yes, even Scripture shows it.  I’m always amazed by how much the poor, orphans, widows, and foreigners/aliens are mentioned in the Old Testament (and yes, the poor, etc. are mentioned quite a bit in the New Testament as well), specifically to the people of Israel in the desert.  Wandering in the desert cannot mean the best of conditions or situations, but God consistently called the people to think beyond themselves and their comfort and to care for others — to be concerned with the care of others.   Poverty should make us uncomfortable. Injustice should make us uncomfortable. I love that! It tells us so much about what God is like, and about what habits are important for us.  Praying for our enemies is not comfortable.  Following God’s leading to places we did not plan is not comfortable.

Growth happens outside of your comfort zone. I’m convinced that God calls us to be uncomfortable. I really think we should worry if we are comfortable (which is not the same as content). Comfort is a place that can make stagnation easy.  Discomfort stretches us and provides opportunities to grow.

I’ve been doing this for a few years, where I force myself to do things I don’t want to do.  Or I volunteer for things I don’t want to do as soon as I can, before I change my mind.  Several of the things I mentioned above are products of this challenge.  I can be an over-thinker, so I try to not think about them, as I know I’ll make up good excuses, and just do it.

As the newness of the year is already wearing off, promises to exercise have already been broken by folks I know (I’m still going – pray for me!).  The hope for new habits has been all but lost in the lack of consistency.  As I continue to think about the new year, and try to dream, I’m reminded of  God’s call to be uncomfortable.  It’s causing me to rethink about how I use my time, my money…  To think about risks I need to take.  To challenge myself once again to grow – part of which happens through being uncomfortable.

As someone who’s spent a lot of her life so far coming out of a perceived shell of shyness and self-consciousness, believe me when I tell you, it’s been uncomfortable, but it’s totally been worth it.  Join me- let’s be uncomfortable together.

Esther