“She ran ahead where there were no paths…”
If I am certain of one thing regarding myself it is that I am in a perpetual battle with life, and all the things I wish it had offered me by now, and the many many things I so desperately wish I had a receipt for.
If you were ever granted the unfortunate experience of pulling out a cot inside my mind you would find confidence and total doubt waging war with each other as I daily ask God what it is He has for me, and where He needs me to move, and how I could ever possibly be equipped for kingdom-sized things.
Something that I have had to confront within the past 4 months regarding God, has been this: my complete recognition of His power. There is a depth of confidence I have regarding His sight of all the other hearts and souls out there, along with their desires and needs; but when I honestly challenge myself to think of how I feel about God with regard to my own life, I strip His power and omniscience away, leaving behind a bareness, a question mark, and an empty frame in the spot that is meant to be filled with His joy for my life.
How long have I been walking around with this idea that God is somehow neglecting my heart, or is unaware of the loneliness that at times creeps in, or is ignorant of the constant, weighted thoughts about whether or not my life truly matters and has meaning?
In two and a half weeks I am getting on a jet plane. I’m flying across an ocean; and I am setting foot inside of a country many people have never heard of and most will never venture to, and I have no idea why.
The foolishness of the words above only make this journey more necessary.
See, I know why I decided to go, why I wanted to go, what led me to go, and why all the strings attached to my sentimental heart have been tugged towards a country tucked away inside Eastern Europe, but I don’t know WHY I am going – I don’t know the purpose of my leaving, of my coming back, and all the details woven in between.
But I know that I MUST go.
Ever since my March reunion and departure with these souls I consider my family, I have never felt so strongly and specifically like I needed to GO and to go soon. Not in a couple years, not next year, but soon – my heart was lonely for this to happen, my heart was yearning for a home that I did not know I had – and the tears flowed, and the chest ached, and the oxymoronish solid confusion as to why I wasn’t already there built confidence at the surety of the need to make it happen.
When I envisioned this trip I saw myself sitting up late at night on the couch in the living room of my second family and gleaning every ounce of wisdom and love that I could – I saw hearts being filled and memories being made – and just. being. together.
There is this generalized concept or idea towards Christian travels and/or missions – that it should be hard, that it should be feeding orphans, or building walls, or teaching in a school, or running a retreat for a church, or should be in a country where you can’t access clean water – and I do not in any way say those things with any drop of sarcasm or resentment towards this aspect of mission or for anyone who is brave enough to recognize those very things being encased inside of their calling, they are beautiful, and they are so so necessary. I say it only to shake up the walls containing God’s desires of our sojourning and to not limit Him in what He desires to do when your heart is pricked or the timing of His use for your life.
When I found myself daily struggling to hold back tears, many times failing, and attempting to remedy this pitted ache of loss and wanting nothing less than for it to be filled while sitting in my American home, I voiced my emotions and desires to my father, seeking an insight I could not visualize myself.
He said something I am not sure I have ever heard before – he told me that missions is so much more than what we normally encapsulate it as. Missions is furthering God’s kingdom, spreading His gospel, and building up His people – it is going where He is leading you, trusting His desire to utilize the crevices where your heart becomes planted. Missions is just as much necessary heart-work for the areas God is wanting to change OUR lives and the lives of those we touch, as it is filling a void or fixing a problem. He can call you across oceans to encourage ONE person, and He can call you across oceans because He desires to encourage YOU.
I have no idea what to expect when I step off that plane and meet God 4,500 miles away from the last place on earth I linked arms with Him. I don’t know all the seemingly small or apparent and huge ways He needs to minister to my heart or maybe, even just maybe, use the brokenness of my own and minister to another’s.
But I have never been more confident that He is inside this longing, and imploring me to be brave with His passion roaring inside of me.
Fast forward almost 2 weeks post trip.
Oh, wow, am I sad.
Quite the negative note to start out with, eh? I don’t even really mean it in a downer way, even if that doesn’t make much sense.
I think in preparation of going to Serbia I secretly hoped that I would hate it there, that I would feel uncomfortable, out of place, homesick, and ready to come home long before my flight would be waiting for my feet to stroll down it’s make-shift tarmac and settle in for 9 hours of the most uncomfortable hours of my life.
I was hoping for that because deep down I knew that this place was going to feel like home.
An incredible thing happened while I stationed myself inside of this little country – I felt peace.
Tremendous, beautiful, all-satisfying peace.
For the first time in years all the thoughts robbing me of sleep, of confidence, of contentment were lacking in any type of sway or influence in my mind or spirit. Singleness, my job, my future in general and how I could be possibly be ruining it were not nudging the back of my brain and leaving me with a constant, underlying angst.
And it felt so good.
It felt like I was home, but without this sense of missing the mark – sitting on the front porch by myself with nothing but my Bible, journal, prayers, coffee, bees, and simply soaking in the presence of God became the fulfillment of every ounce of what I was craving.
The unanswered questions whose tactic was to consume and to cripple become powerless as God met me in the small post-war village with it’s ice cream from heaven, incessant barking dogs, gated driveways, and occasional horse-pulled wagons. Just as the scent of the wind was unlike that which I had spent my whole life breathing, so became my outlook on all the unanswered questions that had swarmed within me.
The only anxiety I felt was at the thought of leaving and how wrong it seemed.
I would lie in bed trying to think of ways that I could come back for longer, and become more involved, and help people, and make it a part of my regular life.
How I could stay with these people that I love so much and not have to invite this distance back into the equation.
Something that really hit me, is that any other time I have traveled, even if it is the same place I have vacationed with my family for my entire life, there is always this unsettled feeling and desire for home. All the sites and roads are blanketed in just a touch of discomfort and wanting the familiar. I have never left to go home after a trip, no matter how long or short, and not had at least a slight desire for it.
This time was so different.
When the good-byes needed to take place I felt my heart cave in.
I sat in an airport in the middle of Hungary with silent tears etching my face.
For an hour.
I woke up at 5am that coming morning, in New York, went downstairs, and could not catch the sobs that racked through my body. It sincerely felt like I had just gone through a breakup the night before, my heart truly felt broken and the loneliness seemed unbearable.
Around 11am my tears subsided after spending a long time talking and sifting through all the emotions and conflicting feelings about what God was/is trying to do in my life and heart.
And you know what? I think that maybe I have entered into another season of waiting.
Which is pretty much the last thing I ever hoped would happen through this experience.
Waiting on what God has, and asking Him to help you be faithful in the meantime is pretty much one of the most consistent and difficult lessons He has us walk through.
Praying for things you never thought you would pray for, asking for clarity and insight into things you never thought you would need it for, waiting to see what He wants to do with the love, joy, and passion you feel towards a certain calling, and staying constant with where He has you in the mean time – oh my dear, these are all such vital points in waiting.
I never thought seeing pictures of certain places as I scroll through my instagram feed would be met with an instinctual reaction as if I missed home.
I may not know the specifics, but I know He is doing pretty radical things in my heart through this trip. Ever since leaving and coming back He has drastically changed some desires and outlooks on certain areas of life and has given me a passion and vision to see certain things come into fruition.
There is fear, and I believe it is a fear latched onto most all of us at some time or another.
The fear of always longing, but never reaching.
Always hoping, but never receiving.
Always envisioning, but never orchestrating.
Fear of wasted days, wasted desires, wasted plans.
Fear that God will watch you pray, wait, beg, and surrender, and never turn around and explain Himself to you.
Fear that He will allow the seeds of passion to be planted, roots of invested prayer and trust to grow deep, and even some growth towards fruition to take place, all for a harvest which never comes.
Fear of being wrong, missing the point, the calling, the purpose – staying the same, never moving forward.
Dedicating years waiting and praying for something that never shows up on your doorstep.
I could go on and on – and it all comes back around to my disbelief in His power for my life, and this misconstrued idea that He does not see me, or find me useful enough to work with – that providing for me will never be at the top of His list.
Shame on me.
Were I to leave the lies in the ground where they belong I am sure to find all the truths in my ever-beating and alive heart able to pump throughout me again.
Were I to pray with boldness, believing in His power, goodness, lovingkindness, ability, and sovereignty, more mountains would shift.
Were I to recognize and call out the truths that every lovely, pure, humble, and honest passion and desire cultivating in my life are ordained in His faithfulness and are pieces of His very character I would be able to believe with confidence that there is, indeed, a plan for my life.
Stop looking back, stop looking ahead.
Look at the very spot you are standing in and challenge it, pray for doors to open and burst through them when they do.
Pray for right use of your gifts and passions – that kingdom-sized things may occur through the very dreams the King designed.
Pray for preparation and the ability to move when the time comes – stop praying small – pray big and with vision.
And when you’re blindsided by a flight to Hungary, joy in the movement, in new things, in growth, and ask that your heart be ready, as you never stop asking Him to fulfill His calling on your life.
Waiting is a game-changer, because it is asking of us to be faithful when we cannot see and do not know the outcome.
You are more seen that you could ever know, and doors are going to open, my dear, when the time comes they will swing wide and all those late nights crying alone, pleading for an ounce of understanding, and every crushing weight that you are missing your purpose will be lifted as the beautiful, hand-crafted you, is ready for the very thing your heart was made for.
There is a time and a season for everything, but maybe, just maybe, right now, you are simply called to wait.
One day, you will be ready, look back, and know that everything – all the growing pains – were necessary, for such a time as this.