Lessons of the Loofah

for Norma

***

In 2011, after returning from the World Race, I needed some…um, special attention?

That 11 month trip around the world altered things inside of me that I did not expect to have altered; parts of my personality were chiseled into a new version of myself and ways that I responded to situations was no longer the same.  A lot of good things came out of that whirlwind experience.  I learned the importance of using my voice, I learned some of the qualities of a good leader and I met some of my most dear friends.

I also came home from this experience incredibly depressed.

Depression, while not at all a friend, became a constant companion in my life. Beginning the last couple months of the World Race my new companion taught me how to withdrawal from relationships and shut off my emotions.

Being welcomed home by all my friends and family wasn’t an easy task.  I knew that they had missed me and I had missed them too, but with my new companion I wasn’t exactly very engaging.  No one was expecting me to bring this companion home and I wanted to avoid their questions, so for the first couple months of living in America I pretended that I came home alone.

Oddly, while I was going through the motions of christian life in America, I was also walking through the process of becoming a church planter to Thailand. Through the early stages of this process, the church leadership thought it important for me to get some help sorting through what was going on inside of me.

That’s when I met Norma.  I can remember our first meeting so vividly.  I was scared, cold and walled off; she was bright, open, full of love, light and warmth.  I felt safe.  I didn’t know Norma–had only seen her at church and heard her name, but something about her set me at ease.  I knew that with her I did not need to pretend.

So I didn’t.

I was honest about my companion and remember distinctly telling her that I don’t believe in the ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’

Somehow, the things I said to her didn’t scare her away.  She wasn’t scared of my companion, of my pain, of my mess.  Instead she loved me, listened to me and taught me.

I left America, still holding onto the fingertips of my trusty companion, but have since been able to let go completely and through a lot of grace and relearning how to trust my Papa, have been freed completely from it’s influence.

***

***

During one of our first meetings at the Tea Smith, Norma asked me what was one of the hardest things for me during the World Race.

Simple enough question…I can still write a pretty substantial list without thinking too hard, but that day, for whatever reason, I told Norma that the hardest thing for me was the incredible difficulty in finding loofahs.

In case you don’t know:

loo·fah:
ˈlo͞ofə
noun
 
  1. a coarse, fibrous cylindrical object used like a bath sponge for washing. It consists of the dried fibrous matter of the fluid-transport system of a marrowlike fruit.
  2. the tropical Old World climbing plant of the gourd family that produces these fruits, which are also edible.
 
 
Norma tucked that answer of mine–sarcastic as it may have been–and kept it in her heart, never making mention of it again.
 
 On the day of my departure from America to Amsterdam and then to Thailand Norma gave me a tearful hug and a gift bag that said not to open until my birthday, which was about four days away.  I hugged her and thanked her and boarded my plane.
 
I celebrated my birthday in Amsterdam with two good friends and there opened my gift from Norma.
 
It was a loofah.
 
My friends thought this a strange gift, but I didn’t, Norma was making sure that I would have what it was that I had lacked before.  Upon my explanation one of my friends gave me four more loofahs to take to Thailand, just in case.
 
A couple days later, when I settling into my new bedroom, I noticed the welcome note Tracy left for me on my vanity, along with a loofah.
 
 
That did it.  I had received six loofahs over a week.  I thought it incredibly hilarious, but also felt like there had to be something behind it.  So I asked Papa if He was trying to tell me something.
 
As I sat and tuned myself to His voice, I felt like He said to me:
 
 
Daughter, the things that you have lacked in the past, I am giving you now in abundance. 
 
 
I let that resonate and chose to believe it.
 
As life moved on and settling into Thailand happened, I would often catch myself believing that I live in lack, when that kind of thinking settled in, I would call myself to remember the lesson of the loofah.
 ***
 ***
I’ve lived in Thailand for a year and a half now and have received seven more loofahs from Norma.  Each time one come in the mail or is delivered by a visitor I have a good laugh to myself and thank God for His abundance.
 
Over the past couple months my storehouse of loofahs has dwindled.  We’ve had various people come live in our house for differing amounts of time and I have opened my supply to them and then forgot one at the condo we were staying at when we went to the beach.
 
I noticed last week that I only had one loofah left.
 
In the smallness of my thinking I got kind of sad.  I knew this was only a symbol of God’s provision, but if He had really spoken to me about His abundance, shouldn’t I never lack the thing He was using to speak to me?  I knew that I could go to the store and buy a new loofah when the last one was spent, but at the same time I felt like that would ruin the whole story.  (So instead I just stopped using the loofah all together in order to preserve it’s lifespan… which in reality is my feeble attempts to control the story.)
 
I know this is funny, but I was really sad about the lack of loofahs in my life
***
***
I had been awaiting a package from my gramma for a couple weeks now.  I had ordered a t-shirt and was therefore very excited to get this package.  Gramma told me that she threw in a few other goodies, but I didn’t know what to expect.
 
When I opened my package I was greeted with three ‘natural sponges’ and a new loofah.
 
What a laugh, what a gift.  What a specific gift from Papa.  Gramma had no idea about any of this, no idea about the lessons of the loofah or about my current belief of lack.  To her, she was just sending me a loofah.
 
 It’s all so silly.
But so real and special to me all the same.
 
I have no lack.
No lack of patience.  No lack of peace. No lack of creativity.  No lack of ideas.  No lack of resources.  I have no lack of relationships.  No lack of opportunities.
 
Instead, I am a daughter.  Completely loved, completely provided for.  Completely seen.  Completely known.  Completely complex and completely understood.
Completely and abundantly.
 
 
All this heart revelation and from a loofah.loofah
 
 
 
 
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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Lessons of the Loofah

  1. This post was just so so beautiful! Isn’t it wonderful to feel loved and cared for and remembered by the Father? I loved this story! Thanks for sharing it and for choosing every day to believe by faith rather than by sight. It pleases Him.

  2. gramma Sharon

    wow … was hoping that u would like them … & funny good stuff, Samara …
    loving that is coming from our Father God is sweeter than any honey…
    hugs … love u

  3. I love this and you have such a vivid way of writing. Thanks for sharing what God is teaching you! Now, I’m sure that after many people read this you will *never* lack in loofas again.

    • samara marie

      So true!! I’ll probably be receiving them always!

      ส่งจาก iPod ของฉัน

  4. so funny that you’re sarcastic answer really turned out to mean so much more
    God definitely has a sense of humor and knows how to take care of us
    love you

  5. rcrossen

    Samara, Thanks for sharing! I love this story that speaks so loudly of our Father’s heart for us. 🙂 Also, thanks for giving me one of your special luffas in my time of need. 😀 May God continue to bless you with the ability to express His love so simply and so profoundly.

  6. Paul

    Now I know what those things are called! No offense, but I find loofahs annoying. One of my roommates has one hanging on the faucet of our bathtub and I don’t like having to maneuver around it when filling up my humidifier.

    But seriously, thanks for being honest about depression. A lot of Christians don’t share about that sort of thing and keep it hidden inside which is not healthy. I think you made the right decision to meet with Norma.

    • samara marie

      no offense taken 🙂 loofahs are actually kind of gross if they don’t belong to you.

      And yes, talking about depression–this was the first time I did it in such an open forum, it felt kind of vulnerable, but at the same time it was a reminder of how far God has taken me from that place.

      Thanks for reading so faithfully!

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