Just said good-bye to Lynsey in the parking lot of a hotel in Austin. I'm sitting here on the bed with four little boys and lots of tears. This good-bye hit us hard.
I've heard other missionaries talk with confidence about God's clear call and how they know that they know that they know that they are supposed to be where they are, doing exactly what they are doing. Those strong comments spoken with such assurance make moments like this...the ones where it feels like an elephant is sitting on my soul and my heart might break into a thousand pieces very difficult. Those comments leave me wondering if I'll ever get to the place where I can leave the people I love here, watch my children cry saying good-bye to the aunt that they adore, and the cousins they love and not feel this nagging doubt...what on earth are we doing? Are we insane? Is anything that we're doing in Haiti worth this pain, this much trouble, this much uncertainty, this much frustration?
Is it worth risking my kid's lives? Is it worth parenting by myself for longer stretches of time than I would ever want to or have to if we lived back in the States? Is it worth weeks of exhausting packing or intense travel days alone with the kids? Is it worth never feeling settled or like life makes much sense? Is it worth the enormous amount of sadness we see every day, and yet feeling like there is so little we can actually do to help? Is it worth falling asleep every night exhausted, hot, perhaps celebrating the one tiny victory that day, yet lamenting about the months worth of feeling overwhelmed and defeated? Is it worth never feeling "good" at what you "do" or like a task has been completed? I miss that feeling.
I don't know the answer to any of those questions.
What I do know is that I'm going back as unsure as I've always been. I go because I'm married to a man who feels a lot more certain that I do or ever have. I find my comfort in his assurance. That may seem small, like it's not enough, but following Aaron in his assurance brings me peace. I go because I've seen the suffering and injustice with my own eyes, and although going seems strange, staying here seems downright crazy.
I'm not sure how many times you've heard a missionary talk at your church and say things like, "I hugged my sister-in-law good-bye in a hotel parking lot...one of my dearest friends...while crying I actually considered telling the kids to get back in that car and begging my sister-in-law to take me away...not to the farm...but to that place in my mind where I lived several years ago before I knew the truth...before I saw it...before I knew that babies die for no good reason, they get left in the muddy road outside your gate, women are raped and have no value, and governments oppress their own people. I don't think my sister in law's suburban could drive me that far, and I would have no idea how to type 2009 into her GPS. So I hugged her, said good-bye, and we all cried our way through the lobby of the hotel. I sat on the bed, holding my sons, trying to comfort them, all of us...a big pile of swollen eyes and wet faces wondering if we'll ever know if we're making the right decision."
I'm not sure we're ever going to be cut out for this missionary stuff or get frequent invites to talk in front of many churches with a story like this one. The missionary stories I heard growing up seemed to come out of the mouths of people a lot more confident, a lot more sure, a lot more bold and brave.
I will fall asleep tonight thinking about Jesus...His words, His heart, His life. He left more than a farm and a loving family to come to this broken world. He knows this pain. He knows what it means to go. He knows what it means to long for home. He knows we're broken people on our way to a broken country. We worry. We fear. We doubt. We question. He knows.