Friday, July 3, 2015

The Letting Go (I)

{Family Edition}

This is a post I have had on my heart for quite some time now but that I have put off writing for just as long. (It's a bit lengthy...but what else is new?)

I have sort of just been observing and collecting evidence and soaking it all in, hoping that I could do this post some justice. Hoping that if I searched long enough I could find the right words to say. I'm still not sure I will, but I can't put it off any longer. Because in 18 days I am moving to Mexico, and they have to know before I get on that plane.

They being my family.

They being the people who are forever saying goodbye and watching me fly to far away cities and lands and endlessly praying and supporting me.

As I get ready for yet another move and another transition.
As I am preparing to leave them yet again, I want to share from the depths of my heart an apology and a sincere thank you.

For a long time, I have believed that I was in this alone. I mean, obviously me and Jesus together doing whatever it is that He asks of me...but other than that, just me.

For a long time it has felt like I am constantly choosing between my calling and my family. I choose to stay where they are or I choose to leave them. For a long time I have felt like they were asking me to make that choice. This has frustrated me and left me feeling guilty and burdened and pretty alone in this whole thing.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I love my calling. I love the life that Jesus has invited me to walk with Him, but there are sacrifices and pieces that come along with it that often I am not the best at dealing with.
For a long time I have built walls around this part of me and faced it alone because I have wanted to protect my family. For a long time I believed that if I were really honest with them and shared my own fears and doubts and emotions in all of these big crazy risks, I would only make it worse for them....

For a long time I have been wrong.

It is not just my calling and it is not just my sacrifice and my burden and my fears and doubts. I have not been protecting them, I have actually been preventing them from sharing in the calling that is also theirs.

This year in my wilderness, with a lot of time for reflection and with the help of a lot of wise friends and mentors, I have realized that a calling is holistic. Meaning, a calling is about so much more than one person. Yes, God does call personally and individually, but each personal and individual call is simply a thread in the larger tapestry He is creating. Which means my thread is woven through and connected to so many others.
Including my family.
In fact, my thread and my calling was originally spun out of and connected to theirs.
Thus, my calling is very much woven into theirs.

{My mother grew up in a fiercely religious Catholic family. Catholic school, no fish on Fridays, midnight mass.
My dad grew up basically on his own. His dad and mom divorced when he was young and his dad was dead by the time he was 17-years-old. Faith was not a part of his reality. He was a scientist and as far as he could see, the two just could not coexist.
It took my aunt (my dad's sister) leaving for the Air Force, falling in love with my (now) uncle from Miami, Florida and being exposed to Jesus and salvation through his family, and eventually exposing my dad to the whole idea for our family to become as it is today.
My dad met my mom working at Arby's in the late 70's.
They became friends. They fell in love. The rest is history.
In no time at all, my dad was leading Bible studies in the basement of my mom's house with her entire family.
In this way, they came to know Jesus.
In this way, I was born into a family of faith and prayer.
I am the only child, the only niece, and the only granddaughter in my most immediate family.
My parents were married and trying to have children for about eight years before I was born. Leading up to my birth, so many of their friends and my family were praying for them to have a baby. They were told countless times that it was not possible and also rejected from adoption agencies because of my dad's age. They did not lose hope or faith. They believed that they served a God who answered prayers and a God who was in the business of miracles. They continued to plan a nursery, to serve in their church, to take family and parenting classes and to prepare for the promise they knew God would make good on by babysitting for other families in the church.

By the time I was born, their world revolved around me. I don't say that to be vain, I say that because it's true. I was literally their answer to prayer, their miracle. They realized that God had blessed them with the gift, the baby they had hoped for and prayed for, and they would not take lightly their responsibility at parents. It was truly their joy, their purpose, their calling to raise me to know and love and serve Jesus.}

I share that "little" backstory because it is essential in understanding my own call and how I have ended up here...18 days away from moving to Mexico.

If not for my family and the call of God on their lives (be it to ministry or just to live life for Him) I would not be in the first place. If they had not been faithful to the call and the purpose of God working in them...well...who knows!?
Thus, whatever God calls me to, they are also somehow connected and involved. They raised me to be this person with this calling. To build walls around that and to be dishonest about fears and worries and doubts has kept them from experiencing this life with me and widened the gap of misunderstanding and increased and intensified frustration.

So often it becomes about my latest "adventure" and where I am heading next and what I will be doing.
While I am off in all of these crazy places doing pretty crazy things for Jesus, my family is back home. They are the ones answering the questions. They are the ones who toss and turn at night worried about my safety. They are the ones who continue moving forward with Sunday dinners and holiday traditions with an empty seat around the table. They are the ones who continually support and encourage and fund.

It is true that Christians form a body for the service of Jesus and it is true also that every single part of that body is essential.

If I am the feet, the one that Jesus has asked to go, my family has been the heart and the hands and the very backbone that makes the going possible. 

I am sorry that I have failed to understand this. I am sorry that I have been so guarded and defensive at times. I am sorry that I have not been more sensitive to understand what it must feel like to watch a part of yourself leave over and over again. I am sorry that I have not been more patient to speak to your questions and concerns. I am sorry that in my passion and deep desire to obey, I have not paused to see how you are fighting to do the same. I am sorry that I have not recognized this as a shared calling and helped us to walk through it together. I am sorry that I so rarely let you hear my fears and my doubts or see my tears. I am sorry that I have led you to believe the leaving and the saying goodbye is easy for me. That I do not long for the people and places left behind. I am sorry that I have not realized enough before that it is thanks to your faith and your prayers and your obedience and your devotion to Christ that I am able to go. I am sorry that I have been selfish and kept you from sharing in this more.

This is our calling. 

It may be I who go ahead but it is each of you that I carry in my heart wherever I go.
Again and again my heart breaks as I leave you in airports.
I toss and turn at night and cry for God's peace night after night as I think of you back at home trying to go on with the things God has placed in front of you but carrying the weight of someone you love being far away and far from your reach and your protection. I struggle with worry that I am far from all of you if something were to happen. I wonder how I would get to you and it hurts my heart to know I miss out on the everyday with you.
I know that often the tears do not come for you to see and it seems that I am strong and brave and ready to walk away, but I assure you, the tears come later and my chest is tight and heavy with every goodbye.

With that being said.
Thank you.

To my mommy. The woman who literally prayed, and hoped, and believed me into existence. The woman who would not quit until God granted her deepest desire. You are so much stronger and braver and more full of faith than you will ever know. Thank you for giving me the best of yourself, your whole self always. Thank you for teaching me by example what it means to obey and to be faithful with what God puts in your hands. For my whole life I will feel indebted to you. You have shown me again and again what sacrificial, selfless love looks like in action. You pick up the phone every time I call and you listen for as long as I want to ramble. You give and give and give and give. And not only to me. But while we are on the subject, you have basically funded my calling. You sacrifice of your own wants and needs and finances to make mine possible. I know that it breaks your heart for me to be so far away so often. I know that it is so hard to say goodbye. I cannot imagine the ache knowing how long and hard you prayed for a child. But always I have known you are behind me and supporting me despite. You are an essential part of God's call on my life. In fact, I am only able to live out His call and purpose in my life because you were faithful to live out yours first. Because you chose to be my mother and to give your whole life and heart to the thing God put in front of you, I am able to hear God's voice and to obey and to follow. Thank you for being overprotective but always letting me go. For struggling to understand but always getting behind me anyways. I love you and I am forever thankful and grateful and indebted beyond what I could begin to repay.

And to my daddy. You are no longer with me, but I carry so much of you in my heart. Your faith, kindness, silliness, grace, and strength are literally running through my veins. I am who I am and where I am today because I have known you and because I have lost you. I know that if you were here today you would be making phone calls and printing maps and looking up my apartment on Google Earth...asking me to collect pesos. And I know that you now instead have joined my "Great cloud of witnesses" and are supporting me and loving me from afar.

And to the rest of my family.
Thank you.
For your constant, loyal, support and prayer and encouragement.
Thank you for saying goodbye and letting me follow God's call on my life no matter how much you struggle to do so. Thank you for never cutting off your love and support no matter how much you don't understand or agree. Thank you for enduring Sunday dinners and holidays without me and for praying through nerves and worries. Thank you for your faith and your trust in Jesus and for your bravery and strength that allows me to live this out. Thank you for your willingness and efforts to keep in touch over time zones and miles. Thank you that I can always come home and find things just as they were. Thank you for keeping me rooted and grounded. Thank you for being my family and for living out God's call and purpose in your lives so that I can live out mine.

I share this with all of you because my family deserves to be recognized and prayed for. Because I believe it's important for all of us to realize that whatever our calling, we are woven together and connected to so many others.
May we never become so prideful to think that it has anything to do with us or that we could ever accomplish anything on our own. May you learn from my own misunderstandings and revelations that you are never alone in any of it. There's a greater story, a grander picture in which we are only a tiny thread. Open your eyes and your heart. Look around and take note of the threads surrounding your life and your calling. Reflect on how God has led you here and how He is sustaining you. Thank the people who have made it possible for you to arrive where you are and begin sharing the calling with those He has meant for it to be shared with.
And do this for me.
For every missionary that you encounter. For every prayer card hanging on your fridge or setting on your kitchen table...the next time you pray for them, pray also for the family and loved ones left behind. When you pray for strength and grace for these people navigating life in foreign lands for the sake of Jesus, pray those same things for the people that have to live life without them.
I would appreciate your prayers as I do my very best to follow God's call.
Even more so, I would appreciate your prayers for my precious family who stays behind. My family, the very heart and backbone of all that I do.
Pray that together, we can continue to live out His call and do our part to change the world for the sake of Jesus Christ.

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