Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Peace interrupted, but only briefly

So, we’re, um, still waiting to leave for mission.  We anticipated a departure date sometime around September 1.  And we still do not know when we will leave.

Waiting has not been terrible.  We have enjoyed spending time with our family and being able to celebrate weddings and a new baby we thought we would miss.  We are admiring the vibrant autumn leaves and studying our new language for mission.  We are packed and ready to leave at a few moments’ notice.  Our visa is simply taking fo-eva-eva.

I felt all these lovely feelings until this morning.  Things had started to move forward with our visa, so we thought we would get to leave this week.  Then I woke up to an email that informed me of a slight delay.  Cue discouraged freakout.  Probably the best analogy for how I felt will be understood best by anyone who has ever prepared to battle very fine, very tangled hair.  You look at the knot(s) and think, “This is impossible.  I don’t want to do this right now.  Someone get me some scissors.”

I began to wonder why I felt so discouraged today when I had experienced peace for so long. 

One major problem I discovered was that I had given God a deadline.  Until this point, we had expressed hopefulness that our visa process would be completed quickly for a variety of reasons.  Yet, when it was not, I still felt peaceful.  I knew that God was the one who asked us to go on this crazy journey, so I left Him in charge and tried to make the most of each day.  That penultimate email had given me something of a timeframe, and I locked on to it.  My peace left when I closed my heart to God’s timing.  I still feel a little uneasy, but I am actively working to remember that I do not have to do everything by myself since God didn’t meet my deadline. 

Trusting God during these uncertain times has not been easy.  How do I do it? 

I have awesome friends who say awesome things.

Exhibit A: Shortly before orientation, I visited my friends at the pregnancy center where I have volunteered.  I may have mentioned it before, but I can hardly say it enough.  My friends at the PRC are incredible.  They strengthen my faith and make me feel like I can do anything.  On this particular day, I spoke with a volunteer who is all too acquainted with my spiritual battles.  She asked how I was doing.  Better, I told her, but…it still hurts.  She nodded. 

“Open your heart to God with every breath,”

she said.  Pondering these words allowed peace to rush into my heart.  Finally, someone understood that taking things a whole day at a time and feeling like you have to have life figured out could be overwhelming.  Such a little thing.  Not complicated or grand, but deeply profound.  Her sweet words remind me every day to renew my tiny trust in God.  Giving Him my heart does not mean I am required to know where I am going or feel ready to face the world like an Amazon warrior.  I must simply say, “Here I am, Lord.  I want to be yours in this moment.”

Exhibit B: When our mission site was switched during orientation, I felt completely unsettled.  One of our leaders, who spent four years in South America, had shared that she felt terrified and overwhelmed upon her arrival in her mission country.  She had not particularly wanted to go to that country.  She had other ideas about where she might like to go, but this ended up being where God called her.  After her initial shock wore off, she had an incredible and life-changing experience.  When our site was changed, I sought her counsel.  We shared a long conversation about my fears and her experiences.  Everything she said comforted and helped me, but one sentence stands out and I remind myself of it daily. 

“Approach each day with gratitude.”

This might sound like something cute she could say to give me warm fuzzy feelings, but nay.  She really backed up her claim.  She encouraged me to place my trust in God and simply thank Him for the blessings He had prepared for me that day.  This simple act of saying, “God, thank you for today” enables me to see Him working in my life in ways I did not expect.  I am more willing to let Him lead me and trust that I am where I am supposed to be.  It reminds me to rejoice.

I hope not to repeat this recent kerfuffle.  Yet, if I do, it will only afford me another opportunity to marvel at the abyss of God’s mercy and thank Him once again for the amazing friends He has sent me.  Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!

Also, you should definitely check out the latest blog posts by the other SLMs.  They are fabulous.  http://salesianlaymissioners.org

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