A year ago Evan and I went to a visiting member care (ie counseling, respite, anything related to helping missionaries live and not have breakdowns or burnouts) ministers Jocelyn and Stephen Head to talk about the year and how it has affected our family. During the course of our conversation we came to realize that this last year or even the last two years haven’t been our only examples of transition in our lives.
Basically, as Stephen and Jocelyn pointed out, we have been in an almost constant state of transition for the past 6 years (our entire marriage). The very fact of us getting married is a point of transition. We went from living apart to living together, we moved to a different town, I was no longer in school, no longer had a job (and continued to not have one for over a year)…then we moved into our first home, had our first child, were accepted into Wycliffe Membership, began fundraising, went to various trainings, had another child, went to more trainings, grandparents passed away (two of mine within months of us leaving to come to PNG), had to sign our house back to the bank, lived with friends, the list goes on and on and that is BEFORE coming here.
Since that time we have continued to go through transitions. Everyone experiences transitions; perhaps we all think ours are the most acute. Constant adjustment is the lot of missionaries. However, just because something is always present, doesn’t mean it is always easy to deal with.
As parents of Missionary Kids (MKs), watching out for your children’s mental, emotional and spiritual well-being trumps looking after your own.
Evan started his manager position back in April. This was quite a change for us. Additionally, in the last few months we have had a few partners drop financial support. We are also anticipating some more discontinuing as we finish our term here in Papua New Guinea. Every month we are very close to the line being able to pay our fixed expenses or not. To that end, we have tightened our belts as much as we can. Frankly, some days I feel like an Edwardian lady. Never mind SAVING for anything. Hence, the appeal for the money for Evan to go to Thailand for the training. As I have been really trying to focus on making sure the family, especially the kids are okay, I am doing a bull-dozer of a job over my own life. And probably not always being as kind and patient as I should be.
A few days ago I realized I was waking up every morning with my jaw tightly clenched. This is something that started doing when overly stressed when we were still in the US. Most of the time during the day I am aware enough to keep my teeth a little apart so I don’t clench. But when I am sleeping I can’t control it. I realized in doing some journaling (something I don’t do often but when I do it usually helps to clarify and organize my thoughts and feelings) that morning, that it wasn’t just our monthly money woes causing me to clench my jaw. It was also me dealing with the idea of letting go of being able to travel with Evan to Thailand. Because, let’s face it, $3,500 is a LOT easier to come up with than $8,500. At least in human terms, I fully acknowledge anything can be accomplished if God wills it.
Ultimately, the training is for Evan and I don’t NEED to go.
I do WANT to go. Our friends the Cheeseman’s are there and it would be great to see them again, who DOESN’T want to visit Malaysia and Thailand, I would be able to get yummy take-out food on weekends and during the week someone else would be cooking for three weeks, and I would be able to process leaving PNG and re-entering America BEFORE I get there. I have discovered through various comings and goings over the last couple of years, I am a “post-griever”. Meaning I get through events and transitions, leave places and THEN I cry and process through.
ANYWAY, the point is, I came to the realization that perhaps God is going to use this as another molding experience. An experience where I have to let go of the hurt and jealousy over Evan being able to go to Thailand and I having to stay in Ukarumpa for almost four weeks (4 days to travel there and 3 weeks of training) on my own with the kids. Processing on my own in the midst of it all.
I always thought I was destined to be a wife and mom. I guess I never really thought about WHERE I would be doing those things. I guess I thought it wouldn’t matter, but as I have lived here and felt over and over a failure at the things I thought I was supposed to just be able to gracefully do (since I was called to be this right?) I have come to realize I had set expectations for how it was supposed to be and how it was all supposed to look and that is just not possible, for me, here. Solo travel, other family members taking care of the kids for the day or weekend, eating out, take-away, expendable income....to name a few things that I must have unconsciously thought would always be a part of my life, and they aren’t going to be. And, well, I just have to get over it. And it will take some time and some hurting from all the stretching and letting go, but I am beginning to accept and adjust my expectations. I have spent so long here going from crisis to crisis and transition to transition I haven’t really had the time to fully process through what is hindering me and hurting my family. And what I need to do and ask for, to help me. But I am starting to understand now; growing in God and in life. Ultimately, I think I will be able to finish well our first term here and I am already looking forward to our return more than a year away. And for that I am happy and content.