This past November marked ten years since we, the Snyder family, stepped off a plane and into our new lives in El Salvador. See that picture? It was taken of our family shortly after we arrived in El Salvador. A decade on and here we are. Life doesn’t look like we thought it would…but it rarely does anywhere, does it?
I think everyone who chooses to live their life on a mission does so with the grand idea that they will change the world somehow, or have some impact that echoes in a profound way. The truth is that it really doesn’t work like that at all. Instead, if we choose to live our lives on mission then the world we step out into is the very thing that changes us.
It changes our perspectives, and dreams. Our goals become changed and perhaps even the way we think and dress and feel. We are altered versions of our former selves. We gain a new language which gives us ways to describe the world that we never even knew existed. We may also plunge deep into doubts that we never imagined we would tread. We may ask questions we would never have dared…of God, of the church, of our loved ones, and more than all, of ourselves.
A decade on and I find myself living in the midst of those questions, and daily facing those doubts. But the changes that have been wrought in my life make it bearable. The ten-years-ago-fresh-off-the-plane version of myself quite possibly couldn’t have stood up to it. Somedays I’m not convinced that the today me can either, but yet here I am.
Somehow I have survived…even thrived. I have become comfortable with myself on this mission, comfortable living in between the questions, and even more comfortable with God. You see, living your life on the mission field (whether at home or far away) requires you to go down low. And so, down low I have gone to the place where those who have been forgotten live. And there I find the low and broken things of my very own soul.
But do you know what else you find when you go down low? You find where Jesus lives too. In the broken and lost places of the world, the forgotten margins, in the midst of the doubts and fears…that is where he is found.
In these past ten years I have learned that to truly find my soul I must lose it. I am not a hero, and I am not special or spiritual. If anything, I am simply more broken. But there in that low and broken place, I can know Jesus. Ten years on and he is showing me more of who he is, teaching me who he loves, and urging me to follow lower still until I soar.