Friday, August 12, 2011

The Load of Leaving

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 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.


Megan said...

Love you!

Diana said...

Ohh, I'm so sorry! My DH's family has been in Bolivia for years, and it's always hard when they go back from visits. I pray that Christ comforts you in this tough transition.

But I really, really, need to say thank you for your series on how to help the poor in the US. There have been many things in my life this summer that have challenged me, and your series has really brought it all into sharp focus. I am making huge changes and prayerfully considering more, especially overseas missions. Thanks so much for taking the time to put it all together. Words have power!

Tiffany said...

Praying for you guys!

Sarah R. said...

i grew up an MK, so i relate to everything you described here - the excruciating goodbyes, the uncertainty, the inability to be "normal" because of the things you have seen.
your honesty is refreshing and needed. i think our family had many of these same questions, but never felt safe enough to voice them so we always put on the good, confident, missionary face.
no wise words here, just compassion and understanding for your questions and sorrow.

Suzie said...

I pray that there will be many more missionaries telling the honest stories you tell--giving us a glimpse of the things they see--acknowledging their doubt and fears and feelings of smallness yet ever pointing to His bigness.

Andrea@Fancy That! said...

People can relate to your kind of story better, though, and we need to hear it. Thanks for sharing and for going even though it hurts! Said a little prayer for you.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

OK - Just reading this and feeling like a dunce for burdening you with my additional (pathetic, comparatively) woes.

I am so proud of you.

I know that's not the point, but I am.

It's worth it, Hizzle. I love your truth.


Amanda said...

I only have a sliver of an idea of what your heart must be feeling right now, but keep holding on to Jesus. He knows it's not easy, he knows the pain and the trials, the yearning to go back to a state of naiveness, for it to all go away. But that's why it's so important to let them know heaven exists. It's never going to exist here on earth. Never. It might get better, easier, quiet for a time, but we can only have heaven with salvation in the next life and they need you and your family to tell them. My heart is wrapping you in prayer tonight.

Charls said...

*hugs* from Australia, Heather. Remember tears are a language God understands, and while it hurts so so bad... it WILL be worth it all. Praying for you as you travel with all those littlies... I've done short flights with my five (all under 6 years old), but I can't even fathom the DAYS of travel you're going through right now. You're such a strong and courageous women...even if you don't feel like it! I'm looking forward to hearing how it all went. I'm sure I'll leave your blog giggling again at how fun you always seem to make things! ;-)

Sarah said...

For a New Beginning by John O'Donohue

In out-of-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

I prayed this over you tonight. <3 May your courage be kindled...

Diane said...

I am praying for you......thank you for your honesty and for the way you listen to the is an inspiration and I marvel at how you have accomplished so much with the gifts that the Lord has given you. Your passion for the people of Haiti-for the women and the babies....for your own kids and husband.....may the Lord continue to bless you and everyone your life touches!

Pamela Nees said...

I echo a hearty "Amen!" to all of the previous posts and offer just one thought...

Peter had it right (as do you guys~)

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the holy one of God."
John 6:68, 69

beth lehman said...

I, too, have been so moved by your story and look forward to reading about your adventure - not only for the laughs but for the honesty. I have sent many of your posts on to friends and family this summer. Praying for your travels - for this year - and for you.

Angie said...

I am sorry. It is worth it. For Haiti, for your boys, and for those of us who read your blog. We are being changed. I wish you could see a video montage of all the people who have been inspired to follow Jesus more closely, help the poor, change their lives... In a large part because of your honest words. My family is putting out feelers for long-term mission opportunities. If God opens doors for us, we expect to have the same doubts and fears and questions. What would you tell us? Don't bother, it's not worth it?
You'll have your answer one day."Well done, Heather. You have been good and faithful. See, it was so worth it." And all of your loved ones will be there with you forever.

Sandy said...

I am praying for you guys and am so thankful I found your blog. Through your story, I am learning so much about what is happening in the world. God is working on my heart in ways I cannot describe. I have been reading Half the Sky and am...wrecked.
You and your family are living the way God wants each of us- to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Thank you for being open and honest.
May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26.

Danielle said...

As someone who is in the beginning stages of planning on going overseas, this is such an encouraging post. There are thousands of us out here who wish we had that surety, and feel insecure when we here people speak of the call. What call? All we know is that we can't go back to normal.

Seriously, you are encouraging people with your honesty. And God sure loves to use us broken people.

kae1crafts said...

Praying that you have safe travels and feel the love of God and all of your readers as you transition.

Thanks for your honesty and your thoughts that you share with us.

Hugs, love and prayers,


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty! I think lots of missionaries probably feel this same way, but are too scared to say the words aloud! When you have doubts about whether or not all of this pain and suffering is worth it, think about Paul. Did his suffering bring glory to God? What would have happened if he would have quit and gone back home after being stoned? I know that Paul's story is a bit extreme, but isn't ya'lls? I am so excited for y'all because your story is just beginning!! I can't promise that your road will be easy (& neither does God!), but I can promise that God will show up in big ways.

Know that total strangers are praying for you and that your story is ALREADY impacting people for His kingdom.

God bless you and your family for your obedience.

Gene and Annie said...

Thank you so much for your honesty and being so real!! Prayers to you and your family!

Clay And Megan said...

I feel you Heather. The bright spot is all the fun hellos you guys are about to have in Haiti! said...


This point is so amazing and honest. I really appreciate it. You are very encouraging and, sidenote: I hope you DO get invited to speak at Churches because we need more honesty!

Praying that God will sustain and comfort you and your family during this time!


Anonymous said...

Heather--I, too, have lived what you have just gone through/are going through. I left children and grandchildren, with a broken heart, not always sure, but compelled to go to a country that to be a follower of Christ means imprisonment or death, and to be found out as a "m" (we couldn't use "the word")would probably mean deportation, or worse. I missed birthdays and Christmases, and more than once wondered what in the world was I doing. Although back in America now for a season, I know that one day I'll return somewhere "over there", in all probability. And, it will hurt. Oh, how it will hurt--probably more than it did in the past. And, I know the doubt, the "am I really cut out for this" questions. I also know that apparently Jesus believes I am. Just as He believes you are. So, sweet sister in Christ, hang in there. Let yourself mourn--it's okay. Our Saviour Himself did that (why do we think we shouldn't/fail if we do, when the very God who created us did?). Praying for you as you leave to go back. Blessings.

Sarah Kuhner said...

I want to thank-you for going out and doing what God has called us to do. You inspire us all with your love for the people God created. I know that you may feel weak and lowley, but that is exactly who God uses to do the greatest thing for Him. Be encouraged that you are doing great things for His kingdom.

Jenn @ Spejory said...

So real. Thank you.

Marla Taviano said...

I know it's easy for me to tell you it's worth it. I'm not the one leaving everything I know and love.

But I beg you to stay the course, to keep blazing the trail for people like me who dream of following in your footsteps and need to know that it can be done by normal, scared people who put their trust in God.

You and Aaron are my heroes. Your boys too. Praying for you all.

HNearpass said...

" I go because I've seen the suffering and injustice with my own eyes, and although going seems strange, staying here seems downright crazy."

Wow, what a perfect way to say it. You don't know me, I am 24years old, and God sent me on a missions trip to Moldova this summer and I feel he is now calling me to the mission field on a more permanent basis. My friend, knowing my heart of injustice and awesome people, told me about your blog so I started following you and reading up on your entries. I love you guys and I don't even know you. God is so evident in your lives. Thanks for sharing and taking the time to write. I've taken some of your ideas for how to live more socially aware here in America.