By Tam Wai Jia
God's Brave Women - Wai Jia's Story
The problem with highs is that you eventually have to come down low.
After a race, after the celebrations die down, comes what people call a “post-race slump.” It’s the same after a big achievement – when the confetti lands, what comes next?
We go home... to a sink of dirty dishes and bills to pay.
In 2006, God used a broken, 18-year old new believer (myself) to paint a picture book that raised over $100,000 in order to purchase a permanent home for a group of Nepalese girls. I had stayed with these girls for 6 weeks until we got evicted together. Now, seeing what God had done, I was blown away.
Yet, after the extraordinary mountaintop experience, I eventually hit the ground, wondering why everyday Christianity didn’t have the same shine.
"After the extraordinary mountaintop experience, I eventually hit the ground, wondering why everyday Christianity didn’t have the same shine."
So this time, I knew it was coming, too.
After returning from my 6-week deployment to Africa with the World Health Organization and UNICEF, after a 7th week of hotel quarantine where I luxuriated in solitude, I knew I’d be back home – cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, at the center of chaos again.
What was to look forward in that?
MAMA. MAMA. MAMA!
Compared to giving presentations to the World Health Organization, conversations around farts, poop color and cutting off the white tops of strawberries seemed like a joke.
"Compared to giving presentations to the World Health Organization, conversations around farts, poop color and cutting off the white tops of strawberries seemed like a joke."
But I remember a serendipitous encounter with an elderly grandpa during my deployment. Though we stayed at the same building, I steered clear of him. When I did see him, he was smoking or drinking a beer. His hair and beard were white, and they framed a face wrinkled with age.
He never spoke a word to me.
Then one day, a random conversation occurred, leading to his showing me his family photo – his wife of 36 years, his surprise trampoline present for his grandsons, the granddaughter on the way he’s about to spoil with tutu dress rompers, and how although he works in Eswatini, he drives back home to South Africa every weekend because his adult children, grandchildren and wife all huddle over the barbecue in one epic weekly gathering to spend time with him.
“So how’d you raise kids like that? Kids who can’t bear to move five minutes away from you even after they’re married?”
“I love my wife and my kids. It’s effortless,” he smiled.
We became unlikely friends, Grandpa Charles and I.
On my last day in Africa, he said, “I felt God wanted me to share this with you: ‘Care for and feed your family like they belong to you. Because they do. Love and respect Cliff and your kids like they belong to God. Because they do.’ And all the hurdles and challenges you think you’ll walk right back to when you get home? Those mountains will be anthills, everything will fall into place. You’ll love being home. So don’t worry about a thing.”
I stared back, stunned.
All my fears about returning to the mayhem and flurry of modern life, all my insecurities and pains of being a working mother, all my agonies of wondering if I’ll be “good enough,” or “present enough,” God wanted me to know that He knew.
"All my fears about returning to the mayhem and flurry of modern life, all my insecurities and pains of being a working mother, all my agonies of wondering if I’ll be “good enough,” or “present enough,” God wanted me to know that He knew."
I teared up. God knew. And sent a random grandpa who knew the meaning of life and work to tell me these simple words.
“You see this?” He pointed to his phone. “This works for me. I don’t work for it.”
“Oh my, why am I this surprised hearing that?” I laughed wryly.
Do you, like me, go to work pumped about managing crises, leading teams, being in your element, only to return home with a sigh to the ordinary humdrum of everyday life?
I am reminded, that though Jesus’ life is highlighted with breathtaking miracles, the first thirty years of his life was lived in drudgery and anonymity. He cleaned dishes, swept sawdust, cleared trash too. He had earthly parents and a community to tend to.
It was Cliff who reminded me, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)
So, when you’re back from the mountaintop, back to your life of everyday living, know that God treasures your everyday moments highly. Because the family and friends He has given you, they belong to Him too.
"When you’re back from the mountaintop, back to your life of everyday living, know that God treasures your everyday moments highly. Because the family and friends He has given you, they belong to Him too."
While our journeys of faith bring us to the pinnacles of our God-experiences, it is our everyday expressions of faithfulness that reveal His goodness and glory as well. Your faithfulness in the hidden places count just as much, if not more.
"Your faithfulness in the hidden places count just as much, if not more."
If you, like me, have struggled with the pace of your life, know this: Saying no to the hard things in life will make room for the people who matter.
Breathe. Push back bravely. Reprioritize courageously, and see your loved ones as beloved children who belong to Him, given to you to steward and cherish.
"Reprioritize courageously, and see your loved ones as beloved children who belong to Him, given to you to steward and cherish."
I remind myself that I can revel in my recitation about a duck with constipation to my children as much as my presentation to the United Nations.
For God cherishes them both, our faith and faithfulness. He treasures them all, our moments of highs and lows, the extraordinary and ordinary.
"God cherishes them both, our faith and faithfulness. He treasures them all, our moments of highs and lows, the extraordinary and ordinary."
I am learning that God wants us to be brave – to step out and say yes to amazing things like risking our comfort in order to answer a call for humanitarian service, but also to be brave in finding delight in the ordinary.
Would you be brave with God, both on the mountaintops and in the valleys?
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story.
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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About Wai Jia
Wai Jia is an award-winning humanitarian doctor, keynote speaker, author, founder of international non-profit Kitesong Global, and global health expert who has worked with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to impact vulnerable communities. Selected for Forbes Asia’s inaugural 30 under 30 list, she moves seamlessly between marketplace and faith-based spheres, bringing God’s word to life through her authentic, vulnerable voice. Her life of resilience, risk and surrender in the mission field and marketplace inspires people to choose courage over comfort, obedience over convenience, and to say an unabandoned yes to God.
She is married to her cancer-surviving, IronMan, missionary husband, Cliff, and they have two rambunctious toddlers, Sarah-Faith and Esther-Praise.