Today was a tough day here at Mission Training International. The module that we had this morning was about “grieving the losses” that we face as we leave for the mission field. There are so many losses that I haven’t even taken into account. The losses we discussed include loss of: safety, a stable home, competence, a support system, identity, and so on. These are things that I need to grieve because they are very real things in our lives that are getting left behind.
Amy Carmichael was a woman who rescued hundreds of children from forced prostitution in India in the early 1900s. As she left England and headed to India, she wrote in her journal that as the ship sailed away “part of her heart was rended from the whole never to be replaced.” That is what is happening to our family right now. It is a painful process. We are going to something exciting but we are also leaving home, we are leaving family, we are leaving everything that has ever been familiar and entering a completely foreign world where our frames of reference are completely upside down.
It’s okay to grieve. I needed to hear that today because I haven’t given myself the permission to really grieve what I’m leaving behind. It’s too easy to push it down, to hide behind doing the “missionary” thing and just saying it’s all joy in following God. It is joy but it’s also pain, and it’s hurt, and it’s tremendous gut-wrenching grief.
We were asked to share verses that are meaningful to us in the midst of pain and I went back to a verse in the Bible that brings me great and incredible comfort. It’s written by the prophet Habakkuk as he struggled through the problems of pain and evil in the world. He writes these words:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”
We may be facing a time of barrenness and loss, but we are also going to new heights on this adventure with God. I am looking forward to what is coming in just a few more days, but I am also grateful for this time to grieve.