It’s really hard to process. I don’t even really know where to start.
Part of me wants to go back home and hide and pretend like we will see each other again next year or the year afterward.
While the other part has a stinging that’s hard to put into words.
It’s just so hard to possibly explain to you how bittersweet it is to have other missionary friends.
Like not just the kind who live in the same town as you by the mere grace of God, but the kind that live literally ALL over the world.
And then to make it worse, there’s the kind that are returning to the States because their shorter term mission is nearly complete and the whole rest of their lives is about to unfold.
I feel like they should come with some kind of a warning label. Something that reads like, “I’m amazing, but I’m also going to rip your heart out when you realize we will probably never live in the same part of the world. Ever. But we absolutely will have to be friends.”
Oh man, it’s that kind of stuff that I just don’t even know how to process.
I have never had a file for that. That kind of box just does not exist in my world.
Oh the plight of missionary friends. Missionary friends that are amazing. Absolutely “kindred spirit” amazing. Their passion for the Lord, their burning fire for sharing His Word in even the hardest of places, their sharing of Scriptures and times that God just presses into them and drives them to deeper layers of faith, their hysterical laughter over the ironies of life, their shared resilience that just pushes and encourages you so. Oh man, why do they have to be such a blessing?!
You know, like if they weren’t such a wonderful family it wouldn’t hurt so much to say, “See you ‘later.” When all the while we both want to leave the conversation on the note of “you never know what meeting He could orchestrate in the future,” our hearts ache within us at the thought that He just might not orchestrate a time to see each other again. No one wants to even say it. But it catches in both of our throats as we walk away. You return to your country and me to mine. Please, Lord, may that not have just been the last time I get to see them on this side of Heaven.
And THIS is why I feel like they should come with a warning label, people! Ugh. It rips your heart out.
Like think about it, our distance, friends and family, is intense. I don’t really like to think about it. I still like to feel like we live in your backyard. You know, just your very large, kind of wild backyard. 😉 And while the distance feels almost too much to bear sometimes, there’s a comfort that we can both rest in at the end of the day. Lord willing, we have every plan to come back. We have a time to look forward to when we will grab you up in our arms. We know where to find each other. For now we find each other online, but come our Stateside assignment, we get to find each other side by side for a beautiful season. A beautifully “promised” season. (I put that promise in quotes but don’t be scared, anyone. I’m just trying to learn not to speak in 100% definites if it’s not found in Scripture. I’m not the planner here, just the willing tool in His hands. So while that’s the game plan on absolutely everyone’s radar, God holds the ultimate trump card in His Sovereign hand and I want to be yielding, even in passing speech, to whenever and wherever He would lead.)
But for my international missionary friends, there’s no reunion hanging out there. No lingering meeting to hold in our hearts on the “the distance is too far” days. We’re not even on the same continent, some of us! How in the world would we ever even cross paths?!!
I can’t explain to you how this fact about our lives feels. Because in all honesty, I don’t even have words for it. It’s that lump caught in my throat when I think about it. That thing that makes my eyes hit the floor sometimes cause it’s too intense of a hurt to put words to.
Oh my, but how beautiful it is. How incredibly beautiful to have precious hearts literally all over the world sharing in the same drive. The same devotion. As much as Mozambique becomes even on your radar, friends and family, because we live here, there is an endless list of countries that pop off the map for us too because we have “family” living there. Serving there. Pouring out there. And a piece of our hearts are with them.
That’s just how we’re wired.
And it hurts to let go of the last embrace known to us. And it hurts to take that first step in the opposite direction that they’re going, wondering if your footsteps will ever line up again while here on earth.
But you can’t possibly keep from loving them. It’s just not even fathomable. They’re family. They’re precious.
And part of you is just overwhelmingly proud to call them family. Overwhelmingly delighted to encourage them in their pursuit of spreading the Gospel to the very ends of the earth.
There’s just no words for how proud and honored you are to call them family. Just like there’s just no words for how much it hurts…
when you let go of your last known embrace.