So graffiti. There’s a lot of it in Paraguay. Everything from your typical “María + Juan” message to political commentary to perky, brightly-colored murals can be found on walls and buildings. Some of it is completely undecipherable to this girl, mostly because of the Guaraní place names that I can´t pronounce, much less remember. Some of it was obviously for fun, and other messages seared my soul with the pain that their creator put into them. I´ve found them everywhere: down the street, across the city, in a memorial for the victims of a terrible fire. Today, as we were driving through a small town a few hours from the city, I happened to catch a glimpse of another message spray-painted on a wall: Para soñar la vida, abre los ojos. Roughly translated to English, this means (according to the missionaries I was with): For life´s dream, open your eyes.
Hmmm. For the record, I have absolutely no clue what exactly the artist meant to express. But I can tell you a bit of what it meant to me as a result of my experiences in Paraguay. I think we run around with our eyes “closed” a lot of the time. I do, at least. As a person for whom patience doesn´t come easily, I tend to want to rush along to the next thing. I need to stop. I need to open my eyes. I need to see that this moment could very literally be the last part of “life´s dream.”
But what does that mean exactly? It means being flexible and taking what your day throws at you, whether it goes exactly according to your plan or not. It means willingness to accept the truth, even when it shakes your world. It means recognizing your own weaknesses and failures and letting God pry you loose from what´s holding you back. It means loving people and wanting the best for them, even when it´s inconvenient or annoying or even infuriating. Today is what you get. Open your eyes.
It means appreciating the world around you-sunshine and flowers and little children and rivers and mountains and puppies and forests. It means learning to love God as He´s expressed himself in these things. It means trying to seek out the beauty in the people that you meet, and actually spending time with them instead of rushing off to the next thing. It means gleaning the good out of the most intense inner pain you´ve ever experienced. Be intentional. Open your eyes.
It means a willingness to recognize and enter into another´s pain. It means recognizing problems with the world and doing something about them. It means living to have eternal impact. It means being firmly rooted in who you are and what you believe. It means trusting God to take care of the seeds that you´ve sown. It means striving to let go of attitudes and feelings that won´t help you or other people. Don´t daydream through life. Open your eyes.
Site of the Ycuá Bolaños supermarket fire
What that graffiti message said to me was that the real substance of life is not in our dreams. Not that I´m discouraging dreaming, since I do my share of that, too. But don´t let that be the point of your life. Recognize that the opportunities and people in your life now are supposed to have your attention. Open your eyes and your heart and every other part of you to how you´re supposed to handle the events of the day. Not that you´ll do everything perfectly. I´m perfect in a grand total of...none of these areas. Just because I decided to spend my summer on a mission field doesn´t mean I didn´t struggle with every single one of those issues during my time here. So I´m still trying to take my own advice. And I know firsthand that it´s tough.
But I´m asking you to think about your life today. Are you opening your eyes and your life to what you should be doing right now? Join with me in thinking and praying about it. Expect one more blog post at the end of my trip.
Until next time,