healing and joy

All week, I've been trying to write a companion piece for my guest post at A Life Overseas. I have three separate pieces in my draft box:

  • a personal memoir of my own Third Culture Kid childhood
  • reflections based around Ruth Van Reken's brave and beautiful memoir of TCK life, Letters Never Sent
  • thoughts I had after my son said that he feels really OK about his TCK experiences

I wasn't totally happy with any of them.  Usually I am not much of a waffler with blog stuff, but waffling I was.

And then I went to Wednesday night worship and during the prayer time, I heard this:  healing and joy.

What I've been thinking and writing about all week is loss and grief.  How those things are real, how they matter, how all our stories count.  How parents can help make things better for their kids, in a life that's inherently full of loss.  Experiences and reflections and to-do lists and resources.

And then I hear this:  healing and joy.

And I realize, AGAIN, that there is no plan for making everything perfect.

I realize, AGAIN, that there are no guarantees.

Except for this one that Jesus gave us:  "In this world you will have trouble, but take courage.  I have overcome the world."

Sunset over Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Sometimes things are such a mess, I don't know how they will ever be OK again.

But then people love one another, and God works, and then there's healing and hope and, ultimately, redemption.  I have seen it happen.  I know it is true.

A couple of months ago, one of my friends asked me if I regret this missionary life, in light of all the pain that comes with it.  And I just don't.  Henri Nouwen said, and he's convinced me finallyfinallyfinally, that true gratitude encompasses everything in our lives, good and bad, as God's redemptive path along the road Home.

That doesn't mean our pain doesn't matter.  It doesn't mean it shouldn't bother us.

It doesn't mean that we ignore the needs of our families and just trust God to sort it all out later.

It means that we do our best, today, where we are.

And when we make a mess, and when life happens.  When we find ourselves broken and weeping on the ash heap.

We trust  in grace.  

We let grace move us on.

We keep walking, we keep breathing.

We trust for the healing.  We trust for the joy.

Frederick Buechner said this, and it's what I want to say to my children, to other TCK's, to the parents who love them.

But most especially, this is what I need to hear.  I need to hear it all the time.  Maybe I should get a tattoo.

"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid."

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