I’m in mourning, friends!
Not that it hasn’t been great to be home – it has. There will always be something about “coming home” that is deeply comforting. Our first morning home, I drove my little car to Target, where I carried on the nicest conversation with the check-out guy, because I speaka da language. (Read in a fake Italian accent.)
Also Target is pretty. I’m sorry. Whoever is in charge of marketing to middle class suburban moms is KILLING it. All the way to the bank. ;P
But, now, as August shows up on the calendar, I can feel the summer coming to a close. In Midwest America, our kids go back to school in just a couple of weeks. My calendar is suddenly full with registration days, orientations, Chromebook informational meetings, parent-web sign ups, and PTO pleas. We have two high-schoolers and a new middle-schooler this year. I can’t even wrap my brain around what that means. We have school supplies to buy, eyes to check, hair to cut… and don’t even get me started on shoes.
Am I the only mom in the world who hates all things related to shoes? Just put on your flip flops and let’s go! Shoes require socks and tying and drama, they wear out instantly, and they’re ungodly expensive, especially with full-grown high school feet that are no longer content with Airwalks from Payless.
I know. First world problems.
See, this is what I’m talking about! How quickly are we swallowed up by the cultural current? It makes me question whether or not the apparently life-transforming revelations from this summer were actually life-transforming. (Spoiler alert: They were.)
We went to the zoo as a family on Sunday. It wasn’t until we were walking down the hill toward the new Outdoor Adventure exhibit that it struck me – we’re closer to each other than we were before the Balkans. The kids go-with-the-flow more easily and pitch in to help more readily. Going to the zoo with five kids used to feel like a monumental undertaking. On Sunday, it felt like part of our rhythm.
(I can’t describe to you here the complexities of our family dynamic that used to make an outing feel impossible. Just trust me. This is a big deal.)
These are the intangibles I prayed for. God is so kind and faithful.
Of course, He had to take me through all kinds of dying to get to this point.
Dying to my comforts. Dying to my preferences. Dying to my need to find security in rhythm, order, and predictability. Dying to my expectations and my way of doing things. Dying to the idols of performance, acceptance, and yes, even calling.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24
People ask me what it’s like to be home after traveling for seven weeks.
I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. I miss my friends in Serbia. I miss the little sweet routines we established there. I miss the bakery across the street (I mean, come on, let’s be real). I miss the intimacy of the campuses in Novi Sad and Belgrade. I miss the focused, undistracted time with my family.
Omaha carries a LOT of history for me, much of which I’d love to forget forever. The PTSD part of my brain says avoid, avoid, hide from all triggers, runaway! It’s not unmanageable – I can usually stay on top of the symptoms – but it’s mental work I didn’t have to do overseas, and I wasn’t ready for shift. It caught me way off guard.
The only way to really fix the root of trauma is God and therapy, the latter of which I’ve been working at off and on for the better part of two decades. Why? Because every layer reveals another possible stronghold of thought and another opportunity to become even more free. (Also I’m not happy when I’m in “PTSD mode.”)
I’m learning, though, the value of the fire – especially when God jumps into the furnace with me.
Here and abroad, the Lord is gently revealing to me areas of my life that are not surrendered – things I’m still leaning on for a false sense of security, things I’m still trying to control, or lies that are lingering, He’s not mad at me for failing, He’s just wooing me toward a greater revelation of His love and transformation in righteousness. He’s making me more like Himself – a vital process and an inevitable part of living the Called Life.
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
“And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18b
The Called Life isn’t limited to a specific assignment or responsibility. It’s not the mission field or the business realm or even marriage or parenting. The Called Life our response to God’s radical, reckless love – our decision to (by His grace) take up our cross daily, whatever that looks like, and submit ourselves to His lordship in every area of our lives. Even when it hurts. Even when it means carting kids halfway around the world and back again. Even when it isn’t glamorous or fun.
So, even though I’m mourning the transition – the end of an incredible summer, I know God is faithful no matter where we are living. Even if I have to deal with shoes and back to school and reminders. He knows what’s next for us, and no matter what it is, I can’t wait to follow Him into it.
God still loves us madly, deeply, truly, even if we’re not submitted to Him. But the adventure of a life surrendered… well I wouldn’t miss that for the world.
To read about our trip to the Balkans, start here.