Here I sit. The lone sign of Christmas past draped softly over my legs. My feet finishing the semicolon of Cobalt’s husky curl. Light from the the lazy Mediterranean sun pours in through the windows. The buzz of cars, mottos, and children’s laughter pours in as well.
I didn’t expect this.
I didn’t expect to love this place so much.
I didn’t expect to find such simple joy in going to the farmer’s market and walking to the store. In learning new ways to cook and eat.
I didn’t expect to find an apartment I love and secretly fear losing because of the transient nature of missionaries. To be uncomfortable making a home and giving my heart away.
I didn’t expect to enjoy learning a new language. To treasure the depth of culture and traditions that are not my own.
I didn’t expect to find a friend who would make us a part of her family. That I would in turn make her family a part of my own.
I didn’t expect that the single most important thing I brought to the mission field would be me. Not my skills. Not my talents. Just me. I am much more valuable and precious than I ever imagined.
I didn’t expect how much I would miss home, my small group, worship, grass between my toes, walking to the mailbox, mail!, calling our kids and my mom in the middle of the day.
I didn’t expect it to still hurt so much.
I didn’t expect to grieve the loss of competency. To wonder where to put the grocery basket when I am done shopping.
I didn’t expect or even understand that both this and that would become home. Or that I would never really be able to go home again. What was is forever lost.
But what I really didn’t expect is how deeply and disturbingly my faith would be rattled. That I would so often feel like Elijah under a juniper tree. Was my faith not strong enough? Was my faith real at all? Worse yet, is God real? I never could have imagined I would ask these questions.
I didn’t expect missions to cause such a hit to my vulnerability and authenticity.
I didn’t expect to struggle so deeply on a personal or relational level.
Did I not know enough? Was I not prepared? Or is the reality that I could never understand what I had no context to understand?
I didn’t expect this.
I didn’t expect the little gifts.
That God knew how much I would need Cobalt and thus made a way and gave us the wisdom to bring him.
That God knew how much I needed sunshine and warmth and thus sent us to a place filled with radiant sunlight.
That God knew how much water calms my anxieties and thus provided a home just minutes from the water. And not just any water but deep, still waters.
That God knew I would need to revisit old wounds and dark places and thus prepared the space, the time, and the resources to meet my every need.
That God knew how flowers delight my senses and thus gave me a husband, a farmer’s market, and a climate that gift me with delight every day.
That God knew how much repair and rebuilding my soul needed from more recent devastations and thus brought an intern into our home and with her the opportunity to serve and love in such a way that I remembered who I am and who God made me to be.
No, I didn’t expect any of this. I didn’t expect the highest highs or the lowest lows. And that is okay. Because what I am learning to expect is that God is in it all.
With Love and Joy,