I can’t seem to look at photos or listen to music without crying today. I’m working on uploading pictures to my new computer. While I’m doing that I’m listening to my Ipod with speakers blaring. The song that made me cry: In the Sun by Joseph Arthur. It’s the sort of cry you need. Really need.
When Hope Wanes
You see, I got another email today asking that pesky question: Why was France so hard?
I can’t answer that publicly. But this song sums it all up for me. It had been the hardest first year on the field for so many reasons, many of which I can’t share. We lost our house to a con man, spiraling us into foreclosure (long, terrible story; please don’t ask). We endured some team issues that were so painful and excruciating, we were diagnosed with PTSD after it was all said and done. And my children were crying after school, navigating mean teachers, difficult language issues. I was lonely, without a close friend. But as that summer came, we had hope.
We made it through one of the most harrowing years of our lives. We still loved each other. I did not have to take meds to be okay. (Not to say that’s bad, but it was a measurement to me as to how I made it through). We had new team members. We were reaching folks.
With that hope as a backdrop, Patrick put together a power point, the background music being the Joseph Arthur song. It didn’t paint a rosy picture, but it showed our struggle, yet triumph in small ways. We shared that video at our staff conference. The entire congregation of fellow missionaries rose, then surrounded us. They laid hands on us and prayed. Infused more hope into us.
But the next year proved to be just as difficult. And, as these stories go, we ended up in a place where we had to make a choice for the sake of our family. We needed to leave that environment, come home, and recuperate. It’s excruciating to admit, but I was part of that problem. After all the trauma, I had shut down. Lost myself. I needed to heal in a place where folks loved me.
So when I hear that song, I think about my husband’s loss. The grief of a shattered dream, once hopeful, now gone. And I think about myself, how, for one of the first times in my life, I couldn’t fix myself. Sometimes life comes at you with such force you can’t get back up. I can’t bear to hear the platitudes anymore. It’s simply not true that God won’t put you through more you can bear. That’s an American view of Christianity–that God exists to make all our plans succeed, that it’s all about victory and never suffering too much.
I suffered too much. I couldn’t get beyond it. I’m on the other side, healthier now, and deeper in love with Jesus, thankfully. But that depth of love didn’t come from manageable circumstances. It came from circumstances way beyond me. Way over my head and heart and mind.
France broke me.
God broke me.
I am broken.
And I’m not sure whether the pieces need to come back together again. Maybe it’s okay to be scattered. Because then maybe God can renew and remake me His way.
I ended my crying time by looking at a picture of an acquaintance who is battling cancer right now. He looks so alive, so happy in his picture. But right now, he’s broken in every possible way. Yet he shines Jesus in an uncanny, holy way. Because he has hope.
Hope I’ve embraced like a fragile package, only to see it disintegrate on the wind. Funny thing, though. It didn’t truly leave. It’s always been there. Even when dreams unbuckle themselves from me. Because my hope is deeper than it was before I stepped one tentative toe on French soil. It’s wider than the brokenness. It’s higher than my circumstance. It’s fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, and on His Dwelling, Heaven. Those things don’t change. And they become startlingly real the more I suffer on this earth.