Worth it?

Sometimes this is too much. I am missing too much. I am missing babies being born, and growing up. I am missing their milestones. I am missing out on newborn cuddles, toddler games, 3-year-old questions and 6-year-old stories. I am missing seeing their beautiful smiles and hearing them laugh at the smallest things. These ones, these missings, are the hardest because they can’t be replaced or regained, because the little ones don’t understand why I flit in and out of their lives, why for months at a time I appear on a computer screen and won’t come out of it to play with them.

I miss my friends – those friends who know me and still want to be my friend, those friends who welcome me into their homes and families and lives.

I miss my precious family, who are the best.

Bangkok is not too much. I love it here. I love what I get to do here. I have met incredible people. I have seen God move in new ways. I have grown and stretched and changed. I don’t regret coming here. But often I do regret what I have left behind. I’m learning to live in that tension, and usually it’s not a big issue, but sometimes I don’t do it well. Sometimes I get grumpy and complain to God – why did you bring me here? Why did you make me to be this person? Why did you give me all these amazing people only to ask me to move away from them? Or, a long-standing question, Why can’t all my favourite people be in the same place as each other, and also the same place as me? (Of course, I chose to come here. God didn’t force me. And like I said, I don’t regret it. My complaining is both ridiculous and heartfelt.)

Right now, living in the tension is hard. I want to be here and also there, have my cake and eat it I suppose. I wonder if it’s because I’m being challenged to a deeper level of commitment, of surrender, although I’m not quite sure yet what that means.

What I always come back to is that God is worth this, much more than this. I have promised Him many times to follow where He leads. There’s a John Wesley covenant prayer that I picked up at a church as a teenager and kept on my wall for a long time. I have prayed it thoughtfully and with sincerity over many years. After all is said and done, it still expresses my heart and my desire.

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be established in heaven.   
Amen.

Amen.

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Home

‘Home’ is a difficult, even loaded, word sometimes. What is home? Where is home? What do you mean you don’t feel this is home? How can you be leaving home to go home?

I read a really interesting blog post at the weekend, which stated that home may be where the heart is, but it’s also where your heart is known. My response was basically, ‘Eureka! That’s it!’

For a long time, especially as I’ve moved to different countries, I’ve held on to the fact that I can be at home anywhere, because God is always with me and I’m at home as long as I’m with him. Because, of course, he knows me completely. In that sense, I’m always ‘at home’.

Yet as I think about the physical, geographical places where I feel most at home, I realize that it’s the places where I’m known and loved for who I am, for my heart. It’s less the place and more the people – for example, every time my sister has moved house, I have felt at home the first time I walked in the door, and even felt like her city is mine too. It’s why even a holiday cottage or a hotel can feel like home, if you’re with people who know your heart. So Belfast is still the most natural place to call home because that’s where the majority of people who really know me are concentrated. If they all moved, would the city itself feel like home? I don’t think so, actually. Certainly my university city stopped feeling like home for a while, when none of my close friends were living there.

This reminds me how important is it that we get to know each others’ hearts, especially in this transitional city where people come and go all the time. This is one way we can create a sense of home for each other, and it’s worth the investment.