Henri Nouwen wrote, "What is most personal is most general." In that spirit, I thought I'd share some from an epic (in length, not value!) email I wrote this evening to a friend who is a new missionary. Maybe it's my transparency that will be most relevant as I endeavor to connect with all you from miles away.
I can completely relate to everything you are feeling! This has been a very hard two years for me. Yesterday while I was sweeping for the ten millionth time in 90 degree weather, I just felt like screaming, "I hate my life!!" Most of the time, I know that's not true. I try to remember the verse in Ephesians 4 that says "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think on such things." Some days I remember it but refuse to obey.
When we left Puerto Supe, I felt like a failure, like I hadn't contributed at all to God's work there. For the last six months, I think I've felt somewhat useless, too, and often when I have to go do something ministry-related, a sense of dread overwhelms me. Yuck. I WANT to care about ministry, get excited about it, connect with people, etc. but I just don't. I feel numb to passion, and it makes me sad. I spent years wanting to be here, and now that I'm here, I'm looking forward to going home, having kids, and living (hopefully in some kind of radical, faithful way) a "normal life." Not what I expected would happen.
The only kind of wisdom I have to offer is that it's clear to me that God has led me here and is walking the journey with me. It seems that's true for you as well (I only say "it seems" because I don't know all the details). My expectations about this adventure were not the way things turned out, but that's really not the end of the world. As Isaiah wrote, His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. They're HIGHER.
Paul wrote in Romans 12 that God's will is good, pleasing, and perfect. It doesn't feel any of those some days. The battle of faith is about believing the things that I know to be true even when my mind says otherwise. Why am I here? Why are you where you are? We don't know, and He doesn't have to tell us (although on some precious days He does it anyway). The fact that I'm not here for what I expected certainly doesn't mean that He isn't working out His purposes in my life. He began a good work in me, and He is carrying it on to completion. Sometimes I don't understand how.
For me it's been useful to explore some of the other reasons I could fathom for why I'm here. I know this is growing me to be a faithful follower of Jesus in Charlotte. I won't be the same ever again. I know I'm growing in perseverance, humility (slowly!) and maturity. I know I'm learning to value community in a way I never did before. Those are all things that will serve me as I serve Him for a lifetime. Maybe they're not why God has me here, but they at least give me a vision to keep on keeping on.
"Accepting where God has you" is the phrase that keeps coming to my mind. I know it's a struggle for me. And accepting who you are. It's okay not to be an evangelist. It's exciting that you're an artist and a blogger and a friend. Who knows what else you are, what other facets of you God has yet to uncover. I know He is pleased with the person He is revealing you to be. "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." You are His masterpiece, and He's not done yet! Let Him make you into the person He designed you to be, and don't worry if you're not someone else. He has prepared good works for you to do, and they're unique to the way He created you.
We'll be back in Charlotte next April I think. I can't believe how close that feels! I hope you and I can debrief together about some of these experiences. I know the re-entry will be a challenge. Puerto Supe was such a difficult place for me, and I'm glad to be in Pucallpa now. Things are much much easier and happier, although I feel like I was able to DO more in Puerto Supe perhaps. Sometimes I wonder if God didn't bring us to Pucallpa to recover before we went home.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:4-5