Finding myself (while dancing) in Africa …



Andrea Dancing

By Andrea Sawtelle, Youth Pastor, Hagerstown, Maryland. 

I have always struggled with seeing myself as enough.  If I look back on my life, I am not even sure where that struggle emerged from.  I grew up in a home where my parents poured out love on a daily basis, reminded me that I am a person of value, and encouraged me along the way in all that I chose to do. But the reality is, to love myself, to see myself as valuable, to see myself as “enough” in this competitive world, has been something I have continued to battle out in my daily life.

This past June I received a phone call that I had no idea was coming.
 I was invited to be a part of a team of Nazarene Leaders that would be traveling in conjunction with World Vision, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, and Nazarene Youth International to see some of our partner projects in Mozambique, Africa.

As soon as I told my husband the details (to which he immediately said “you are crazy if you don’t say yes), I began to make a list of all the reasons why I shouldn’t go, most of them centering around the fact that I just didn’t think I had much to offer.  My thoughts went something like this, “But I don’t know ANY of the team members…well I know them…but only because they have written books, and spoken at events.  No one knows who I am.  I come from a small church.  What if I don’t have anything to contribute?  I don’t think I can do it. It wasn’t an inner battle that I was unfamiliar with.  It was a battle where once again fear of not being enough was fighting hard. Regardless, I got on that plane.

I have been home now for a few months, and I have still not processed all that I experienced and saw during my journey. But I do know one thing. In some ways, I found myself in Africa. While in Mozambique, something in my own heart changed. The realization that Jesus was enough for me hit me like a ton of bricks. It didn’t matter if I was known…ever. It didn’t matter if I came from a big church or had a big title. What mattered was that God had called me to live out this life for him. HE was enough.

On our 5th day, I found myself in a small village watching a group of women and children dancing in a big circle while local World Vision staff and community members repaired their clean water well. I stood on the outskirts of the circle watching and attempting to clap on beat. I thought about dancing, but as stupid as it sounds, that was quickly silenced by insecurities.

And suddenly it hit me: I am in Africa…what I am doing standing on the edge when I could be in the middle of something epic?! And so…I jumped into the circle and began dancing – poorly, and without rhythm. In fact, a little girl began blowing a whistle in my ear, and pointing at my feet trying to get me to do the steps in rhythm. I tried telling her my dancing skills were a lost cause! Nevertheless, that day I danced…and I danced…and I danced…and I was reminded that God desires for us to dance in this life.  We weren’t meant to sit on the sidelines. We weren’t meant to spend our days thinking about what we aren’t, or how we aren’t good enough. He desires for us to let go of all of that and live as the people he has created us to be.

He is enough.

And so, I say that I somewhat found myself in Africa, because I did. For a few minutes, in a village in the middle of nowhere, I danced and didn’t think about why I wasn’t good enough. I was just me… the me that God desires for me to be every minute I am given breath. And needless to say, I am choosing to dance a lot more these days.