“Sympathy is no substitute for action.” David Livingstone
During our first day in the Dominican Republic hundreds of yellow – clouded sulphur- butterflies were swirling around everywhere. Everywhere isn’t an exageration. They would dance around your feet and swirl up your body as you walked around. They even stayed one step in front of the windshield wipers of our gua gua as we plowed along the mountain at 70 miles per hour. Locals even commented continually that day about the abundance and their presence.
As butterflies accompanied us during our medical clinic that day, I scoffed at how cliché they were in that moment. I didn’t need a sign about transformation. This wasn’t a ninth-grade short story and I wasn’t in the mood for analytical reasoning.
When I was younger, the same butterflies crowded into the dark mud outside our kitchen window on summer days. Nothing ever grew there and our frequent bike rides made sure any caking from the sun was soon turned to slosh. Quite often I was mean and would plow the butterflies down under my tires, but there were a few times where I crept up on them to catch one and watch its color rub off in my hands.
A recurring theme in my quiet time lately has been “child-like faith.” That kid plowing through the mud felt in charge and greater than hundreds of butterflies. Over the years faith in anything deteriorates as you see plans crushed and hopes brushed aside for reality. Little pieces of you rub off and fall away.
It’s been three years since I loaded onto the plane with 25 church members and it still feels like yesterday that those butterflies greeted us as we were on our way to our first medical clinic in Bani. It’s been three years since I started this post, a two years since I’ve updated the post and still haven’t posted photos or fully debriefed from that week because I don’t think I’ve fully seen the impact that trip has had on my faith or my daily life.
I’ve had plans drastically change since then and it’s startling how much location and people don’t really change things at all.
Going into this trip I was looking for a breakthrough of some kind that made me commit to God in a way I hadn’t before. Instead I committed to finding a career path that gave me more opportunities to work with families like I’d met in the Dominican. God fell by the wayside again. Even as I’m preparing for my next “big trip” next month, I’ve learned more than anything that I was selfish in that last trip. I wanted to be transformed. Now I just want to help. This so isn’t about me. If God or anything that makes people believe in a more beautiful, functioning, grace-filled world makes it into my conversation or actions, that’s just gravy.
Big moments don’t really happen that often. They’re built from little actions over time. Expecting dramatic change is impossible because I didn’t become the person that I am today overnight. What I can do is be a part of those little actions and maybe over time I’ll be part of a bigger change, maybe even eventually get transformed myself.