Grief is not just about the loss of a loved one; it’s simply about loss. It’s the loss of a person, relationship, hope, want, plan desire, or whatever else we’ve conjured up in our heads that we thought should have happened. It’s anytime we say “It wasn’t supposed to go this way.”
I left Africa on January 26…ALONE. I was required to pack all my belongings in less than 12 hours and was back in American in less than 24. This was not how I expected my missionary journey to go, nor was it how I expected to return home.
There’s more to the story which those who walked with me and are the closest know, but telling the masses was something I didn’t know how to do. Of course, telling those who had financially supported me was a must, but even then, I didn’t know the words to say. I was still in the first stage of grief: SHOCK. And, y’all, over these past 2 months of processing I’ve walked through all seven stages of them!
- Pain & Guilt
- Anger & Bargaining
- Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
- The Upward Turn
- Reconstruction & Working Through
- Acceptance and Hope
I wasn’t waiting until the grief process was over before posting, but until I was at peace. It just so happens that two days ago I finally reached acceptance and last night the news of the squad being sent home due to the effects of the Coronavirus and borders closing released me to share.
I sat so many days wondering “Lord, did I hear you correctly when you told me to go on the Race?” I was so angry my Race was cut short, but God’s like, “You were never going to finish it!” It’s so crazy how limited our knowledge of the future and God’s plans are. So, I share now for my readers but also for my former squadmates. Although the circumstances surrounding our returns are different, hurt is hurt, and I hope sharing my transition helps you.
It’s so crazy how limited our knowledge of the future and God’s plans are.
I’m so grateful for my family and my community. I hope you have some when you return.
First, know that people may walk on eggshells around you, afraid of whether to ask deeper questions or not. You’ll get asked a mixture of “How are you?” “What happened?” or “How was it?” and the best line I can give you is, “I’m actually still processing it all” because YOU ARE, and honestly, will continue to even after acceptance. (If you’re going back home, sorry, one of your parents may ask “How are you?” or “You want to talk?” every single day or simply stare at you trying to figure out what’s going on in that mind of yours. They mean well. Then there are those, my favorite ones, who won’t ask a thing nor tiptoe on eggshells. They’re the ones with the gift of Barnabas aka encouragement. They’ll call you to simply say, “I’m just checking on you. You don’t have to talk about anything, but know I’m praying for you. That’s all.”
“I’m just checking on you. You don’t have to talk about anything, but know I’m praying for you. That’s all.”
Second, as you wait for the Lord to reveal what’s next, continue to move even if you feel He’s silent, but commit your ways to him. One of the most important revelations of scripture I’ve received was on Isaiah 30:21 that says “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” The voice (Holy Spirit) is behind you meaning it’s guided and trusted you to choose one way or the other. I didn’t know whether I was to wait until my actual Race end date to get a job or to remain still and continue to process all of the previous months. When I turned to each one, the Lord spoke.
Third, you will see God’s hand in it. You may not be able to explain it all, but there will be good. I guess that’s what they call acceptance. I sold my car before I left, so didn’t have transportation on my return. I rode a bike for several weeks and that doubled as exercised because I couldn’t afford a gym membership. In this current moment, I have a job and was able to get the car I always wanted; I’m working in a new district I would have never applied to that has much smaller class sizes and the potential for massive higher pay in the future; I’m working 40 days for 5 months of pay; I’ll have my own place next month; and I’m getting to serve on teams at my church that weren’t available before I left! Life is good because God is good!
That my friend is the truth you have to hold on to. Romans 8:28 is the scripture everyone will tell you and of course you may not see the good at the moment. You have to separate the “God IS good” from the “God FEELS good” because whether or not it “feels” good, He still is good! He is a good Father.
You have to separate the “God IS good” from the “God FEELS good”
I wish I could sit and process with you. I wish I could just listen to your unorganized thoughts. I wish I could allow you the freedom to cry tears of anger and confusion. I wish I could tell you how it all works out in the end, but we know only God knows that. However, what I can do is share with you a blog post written by sweet friend Liz that encouraged my soul so much!
With permission, I have posted it on my blog. Click here to read it.
Until Heaven or Sooner,
P.S. Remember two things: 1) Missions is everywhere, so don’t stop the work of the Lord wherever you end up. 2) God honors your obedience, don’t ever doubt that.