I have been preparing in many ways for probably a good 6 months to leave Papua New Guinea. I have done this because I have been told by many people over and over that it is important. That in order to be a healthy missionary, you need to say proper good-byes, and you should start gearing up to go back to a place which is not entirely home anymore. I love planning. I love making lists; it makes me feel accomplished to check things off. So, I was more than willing to “make a plan”.
Well, the plan hasn't worked the way I have wanted it to in many respects, which is another story. But I have started to realize that this is the beginning of a season of letting go for me, and furlough is just a part of it.
There have been times in my life where I have had breakthroughs or major shifts in my life direction. Sometimes they come in the form of epiphanies, sometimes it is achieved through gradual clarity. But, always, ALWAYS these moments come with pain and loss of some kind.
So, for the last 6 months there have been changes taking place, picking up speed in the last month. Mostly I have only told a few close people around me. Because it was hard and painful and frankly it is doubly hard to be world-wide honest with people when the wide-spread perception is that missionaries are very spiritual people who have it all together, otherwise they wouldn't be doing what they are doing…I feel particularly this view still strongly applies to missionary wives.
First came the letting go of material security. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, we live off faith-based support from others, we gave up our house in America, the house we own here could be taken at any time as the land our center exists on is leased from the PNG government….etc, etc.
But, for a long time I have known that having things, “hoarding” in the sense of we won’t be going through the supply anytime soon but you never know when we might need that thing…is like Linus’ security blanket for me. It is always there, I can open the door to the storage space (because, yes there was so much that there wasn't room in the rest of our house) and look and know that our family is protected from…something…
Anyway, there was painful prayers and conversations that happened and I started letting go. First the easy things, things I knew we would never use, had been sitting since they came out of the boxes we shipped here 2 years ago…and the more I eliminated, the easier it got, the more free I felt.
The gates had been opened. I started examining other areas where I could improve.
I had known for a while that I had been slowly gaining weight. At first I thought it was just the diet here, lots of rice, noodles, sweet potato. Then I really got honest. Maybe it was some of that, but given that we eat a lot of vegetables as well, and I have been walking everywhere since April, there had to be other explanations. Looking at my cupboards I lifted my blinders and saw. I was using food as a way of controlling my stress, because that was one of the few things during this time I thought I could control. So, when I had a bad day, I drank a can of soda. Something I very rarely did in America.
My body had become addicted to the sugars, and the serotonin it produced. Coming down off that has not been easy, Christmas time is a bad time to say I am cutting my sugar and fats. And I haven’t lost really anything yet. But most days I feel better and I hope that the weight loss will happen, and that I will not backslide badly while Evan is away.
Side note: Prayers for the time when Evan is separated from us will be greatly coveted. Honestly, e-mails of encouragement would really bless me too, as this will be an incredibly stressful time for all of us. I will be guiding our boys through saying goodbye to their friends and their home. I will be saying goodbye to a place that after three years I have finally started to feel settled and figure out my place in, to go back to a place where even loved ones have gotten used to not having me around and I am not sure how to navigate.
During this time I started reading As Soon as I Fell: A Memoir by Kay Bruner. It was very surreal to read as in portions of it, she was speaking of where I live. I know the literal dirt-road corner she is talking about where she finally came to a point where she could not take it anymore. I found so much of myself in her words it scared me, but it also comforted me. It opened up conversations with friends here who could relate and commiserate.
But it also signalled another time for self-examination and a time to let go and change….
In my seemingly endless sorting and packing of our house, I have come across several things I have held onto because I have a not so secret hope. I want a baby girl.
Evan and I had talked in loose terms before we came to PNG about the possibility of adopting a girl to add to our family. We waited for a bit for the dust to settle and then, we began an investigation into the possibility.
At this point I don’t want to say too much about it because, well, I guess I haven’t entirely let it go…J
But I began to form an idea in my mind over Christmas. When, about a week ago we were at my best friend’s home celebrating her youngest daughter’s birthday the realization flew dramatically to the fore-front of my mind.
Looking at the 1 year old little girl in her red party dress, smiling and loving her mama my heart was screaming; Why not me? Why couldn’t I have one too?
The response was: Maybe I’m not meant to. I don’t know yet if this is truly God closing the door. We are still exploring an option, but regardless, I have reached a place where, no matter how sad it makes me, I must give away (among other things) that pink changing pad (which, yes I used for my boys, but am not holding onto for sentimental reasons). The ache, even as I write this is strong. I can feel the pressing of tears behind my eyes. But I am still saying, now is a season of letting go. And I must let go of this too.