Quenching My Thirsty Spirit

For the last couple of years, I’ve been struggling with the fact that I’m too comfortable. I know that sounds weird. Who wouldn’t want to be comfortable? Isn’t that a top priority as a human? Yet, I’m too comfy with my suburban lifestyle, with my idle chats with girlfriends about granite versus marble countertops, over-the-top birthday parties, name brands, and especially with my walk with God.

I’m a girly girl — I like testing out various shades of OPI nail polish and meandering through Home Goods. It brings me silly temporary happiness. But what about inward joy? Far from it. I volunteer for good deeds…too much, actually. I teach Sunday school at church, foster homeless dogs, take dinner to sick friends, etc … etc … However, my spirit still feels thirsty. I quench the initial thirst by checking the proverbial boxes of doing these deeds, but deep inside, sprinkling water on my thirst wasn’t keeping me satisfied. I needed to be engulfed.

I prayed about this thirst for a full year as I’d walk my dogs in the morning and repeated the phrase from Isaiah 6:8, “God — Here am I. Send me!” He answered this prayer in a way I was NOT comfortable. When I said this scripture, I was thinking He would send me somewhere local or guide me toward a friend who was silently struggling. Nope. Instead, He sent me far away from silly coffee talk to a place where Kendra Scott and Tory Burch mean absolutely nothing to anyone — the remote villages of southern India.

If I had to make a list of the top 300 places I’d like to travel, India would not have been on that list. Nothing seemed appealing — the intense heat, my unsophisticated food palate with an aversion to anything spicier than mild salsa, and the collaboration of dirt floors, unairconditioned structures, and odors I couldn’t quite decipher. But hey, I asked God to “Send me!”, and boy-howdy, did He, as a fully paid, round-trip airplane ticket was given to me by an acquaintance who felt God had moved her to do this for me. Talk about divine intervention!

I spent two weeks in July serving the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen. During the day, I’d travel by train, rickshaw, and even a motorcycle to remote villages to provide food as we worshipped together. Neither language nor culture mattered. I didn’t understand their words {although I had an interpreter}, but I recognized the tune of the songs; and as we prayed, the Holy Spirit interpreted our hearts to one another. In the heat of summer, I dragged around countless 40-pound bags of rice to those suffering from leprosy who lived in colonies as outcasts from society. Touching their wounds as I prayed over each one of them and looking into their eyes filled with gratitude was the most beautiful experience of my life. Even though these people were shunned by family and society, the sense of community and love for each other was astounding. If one person had no hands but did have feet remaining, he would help his friend who had the opposite. Together, they survived life with a sense of joy I can’t fully comprehend or explain. Even with rotting flesh, these were the most beautiful people with a deep spirited love. I will never be the same. Ever.

In the evenings, I stayed at an orphanage called W.I.N.G.S. that was developed after the catastrophic tsunami of 2004. The girls taught me Indian dances and drew henna designs on my arms, while the boys wrestled and played games after the kids had studied at school all day while learning three languages. The kids washed each other’s clothes and dishes and offered their first bites of food to friends as a way to show honor, respect, and service. I can barely get my teenagers to put away their folded laundry that beckons their name at the bottom of the staircase while hoping they make a “B-” in the one state-required Spanish class. These children were filled with a joy I don’t see in American kids’ eyes. There was no complaining or whining, no over-medicating, no discipline issues. Just joy. Pure joy.

Nothing could adequately prepare me for the smiles of the orphans that greeted me, nor the eyes filled with hope amongst the poverty in the villages. Nothing could have adequately prepared me for seeing the contribution of the widows whose “mite” was given in the form of rice and bread, instead of coins and abundance. Nothing could have adequately prepared me for worshipping with those stricken with leprosy who raised arms without attached hands in order to yell a hearty, “Hallelujah! Praise God!” Nothing could have adequately prepared me for watching a group of preachers graduate from Bible College as they know they are choosing a life in India filled with strife from the government, physical danger and possible death from militant groups. Nothing could have adequately prepared me for falling in love with my Brothers and Sisters in Christ whom I yearn to be with in Heaven even though we are separated by oceans and cultures.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m still a fan of aimlessly wandering through the aisles of Target while strolling with a mocha latte in my hand. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but mocha lattes can’t quench the inner spirit that thirsts for more. My prayer is to keep from being polluted by the world, polluted by stuff, polluted by privileged suburban “problems.”

To say that God not only answered my prayer and quenched my thirst, but instead saturated it with what I needed, is an understatement. I journeyed 23 hours to be drowned in a way so profound that I will never be the same. In fact, I left a huge part of my heart half-way across the world. I didn’t change India; India changed me.

About Brittany S.

Brittany is a native of Katy, Texas, and has served as a public school educator for 21 years. She’s surviving the teenage years of her two kids and has more dogs than the law allows, much to the dismay of her incredibly patient husband. Brittany is the author of her non-fiction {and crazily absurd} memoir, What Lurks at the Bottom of My Panty Drawer and is a contributing writer for the online encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO. Currently, Brittany is working on her five-part children’s series, Laverne’s Lone Star Adventures.


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