Journeying Through Grief in an Unexpected Place

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My husband and I have always dreamed about living overseas. The adventure of doing so has always been a part of us. We have often felt a weight on our shoulders for people who have never heard about Jesus and His redeeming love. We know not every country has the resources for churches or people who are Christians. Knowing it is the Fathers job to save we are grateful He invites us into this wonderful story of redemption that includes parts of the world where bringing the gospel can be challenging.

We’ve waited to move out of the country because my mother was sick for many years and being with her was just as important. After my mother passed away I felt so broken. I felt so many broken pieces of myself laying everywhere. I was so devastated and it felt like my two brothers and I had been split apart. There are many words that I can share to describe the trauma of my family’s brokenness, but I’ll describe who Jesus is in the midst of grief.

He sits with me in grief, He is there in every moment and in every tear. He sees how lonely it is to wake up one day and never see home or your mother again. He sits in the pit of grief with me. There, He lays with me when I cannot get up, and when every broken piece is so heavy. He washes my hair with His tears because He knows the pain of loss. That is why He lays there with me, because if anyone knows grief and the pit that comes with it, Jesus knows. He reminds me of how He chose to leave His Father in heaven so He could be with us on earth. Because of this, I know He connects with me when I feel like no one else can. Jesus doesn’t push me out of grief, or push me to clean up my mess. I am not His project to simply heal. He is relational and goals aren’t His heart. Being with me is His heart. He knows how human I am and He doesn’t ignore that. Jesus gives me strength day by day. This entire process has been a journey of experiencing Jesus so close to me and knowing how Jesus identifies with pain and grief. I couldn’t have a humbler Father. I feel like He’s unveiled so much of the kingdom to me through this process. It’s like I’ve learned to live more in the midst of grief than before it. I hold onto the joy of being with others instead of things and accomplished goals. I consider what really matters in life and for my husband and I it is to love, wherever that may be.

Jesus is here to unravel the kingdom of heaven in our world and I can see how He has used this story of loss to bring my husband and I overseas. It has been a year and a half since my mom went home to be with Jesus and it is time for my husband and I to dream again. Out of necessity we set aside a lot of “us” during my mom’s illness. The time is now to live what God has sewn deep in our hearts and bring the good news of the gospel to people in other countries.

My husband, Jared, is getting his masters in TESOL, (teaching English to other language speakers), which requires living overseas. We moved to Hualien, Taiwan where the east coast of Taiwan is beautiful. We live 10 minutes from the mountains and ten minutes from the ocean. We are amazed by His grace in sending us here! We know we are not here to change the community rather we are here to get to know the people that He places in front of us. We are here to love the hearts that God designed and it is very important to us that we do not march into our new community and dominate with our ideas and way of living. Instead we are here to connect with the community.

We know God works through love and simple acts of faith and for now we will continue to teach English. On Sundays we have the opportunity to work with a group of children. We play games with them and tell some stories about Jesus. We know they are so important to the Kingdom, so we attend to them likewise. It is also very important to us that we process life and heal as well. Jesus is interested in rising more and more in each and every one of us, so we take our time to read, pray and sing to our Father. This is a part of our rhythm in life.

I know that our life living overseas may sound brave or courageous to some but it doesn’t have to be seen as an abnormal way of living. I believe we all have gifts that are given to us to raise and love the Church. Some of us are living in our gifts and some of us are not. I encourage you to ask the Father what gifts He has given to you. Paul would encourage us to ask for all of the spiritual gifts. I encourage you to ask if there are any fears that you are living in, and if so, to have an open conversation with the Lord about that. He is so gracious to all of us and any fear that we might deal with. He knows the very best for us, and that includes living in faith, and discovering our gifts He gives us.

 

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