So, I have some big news. Really big news. Matthew and I are moving our family to China.
You may, like so many others in our lives, read that and have a mix of emotions. We do too. Mostly, we are excited, but there has been a lot of heaviness too. We feel sure this is what our next step is, and nothing but God could change our minds at this point, but…but, but, but…there has been a lot of sadness.
Most of that sadness has been about the death of other things in our lives. We have been here before. When we moved to Arkansas for me to pursue a life-changing opportunity with Bethany Christian Services, we experienced similar things. This time feels different though. This time we have less support and more questions from others.
I think all callings are lonely. Even the popular and accepted callings like marriage end up lonely. Yes, you have a partner and yes you love him/her, but hey! You have to work this thing out on your own with Christ because your partner can’t do it for you. All callings bring death. Even Christ’s calling brought death.
I talked about this in one of my most popular posts about marriage. We get married at an alter. An alter is the place of sacrifice, of death. Why didn’t I clue into that before I said yes??? Poor Matthew.
Anyway, this calling to go and live in China is not popular. “Are you going to be safe?” “Are you going to be smart?” “They are going to try to take your kids (because of their fair skin and hair).”
I want better questions. I want to be asked if we are obeying the Lord. I want you to inquire about how I’m handling the transition. I don’t want you to figure out things for me and I don’t want you to worry about my safety. I want you to sit with me in my sadness and rejoice with me in my excitement.
All of this and more has equated to a bit of death for me. I have had to lay to rest what others think of me or of my plans. I can think of another time that was true for me. Adoption. Writing. But this post is about death and it’s been on my mind lately since my mother is doing so poorly these days.
So, I was listening to my favorite band The Avett Brothers and this song came on:
“The Perfect Space” by The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You
I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ve become not the man I was.
I wanna have friends that will let me be
all alone when being alone is all that I need.
I wanna fit in to the perfect space,
feel natural and safe in a volatile place.
And I wanna grow old without the pain,
give my body back to the earth and not complain.
Will you understand when I am too old of a man?
And will you forget when we have paid our debt
who did we borrow from? Who did we borrow from?
Okay part two now clear the house.
The party’s over take the shouting and the people,
I have some business and a promise that I have to hold to.
I do not care what you assume or what the people told you.
Will you understand, when I am too old of a man?
Will you forget when we have paid our debts,
who did we borrow from? Who did borrow from?
I wanna have pride like my mother has,
And not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad.
And I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ve become and not the man that I was.
What does it mean to fit in to the perfect space this side of heaven? How can I be present there? How do I get to a place where I feel natural and safe in a volatile place?
There is mourning in what was, what you hoped would be, what is. There is mourning in the Cross and there is mourning in moving to China, even if you know that is where God is taking you.
We are selling all of our stuff. We are saying goodbyes, hard goodbyes. We are grieving. And I have to admit to myself that this is exactly right. Do I want to be suffering these losses? No, but do I want to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth? Yes.
I don’t feel guilty either about not wanting to go through all the hard stuff. Jesus asked for a different cup but was resolute in His walk to the Cross. He trusted God and in the end, life sprang forth from His death. Life that still ripples through my soul and yours.
Am I saying we are going to our death? YES! Yes, I am. I truly believe we all are, and we all should be. I am convinced now more than ever that these deaths, emotional and social and physical, are holy and purposeful. I believe that we should encounter pain and suffering with awareness that this is what brings us closer to the nature and person of Christ. I want to walk the line of pain and praise that doesn’t see them as opposites but as equal partners in my redemption. I want to get comfortable in a space where they both are welcome and can co-exist.
If you are in a space like me that feels chaotic and yet you believe it is good, I want you to know you are not alone.
“The Lord is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love and rejoice over you with singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17
You can rejoice in the mix of joys and losses. Don’t think of it as being tossed back-and-forth but as dancing around with your beloved. The music may change, but your Partner remains the same.
The Lord is with you, friend, in the perfect space, and so am I.