Tuesday, May 31, 2011

leaving it behind

If you saw our life only two years ago, you never would have guessed that we would be selling everything and moving to a developing country in the near future (or ever). We had created a near perfect life for our family. We had bought a home that we knew we would raise our family in. It was only a few miles from award winning public elementary, middle, and high schools. It was in the safest city in the United States (per the FBI). We were situated on a beautiful cul-de-sac where our kids could play outside everyday with their best friends. Our next door neighbors felt like family and the kids would just wander back and forth between homes.

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We were 45 minutes from my sister, brother-in-law, and new niece. Our kids got lots of quality time with their only cousin and we knew we always had family close by for important events (and even the non-important events). We were 30 minutes from Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. Twenty minutes from the beach. An hour from Los Angeles, where we could enjoy Broadway plays, participating in flash mobs, and all the fun things a big city offers (without actually having to live in the city).

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Like I said, pretty darn perfect.

Somewhere along the way, though, things obviously got messed up and our plans changed. The thing about having a near perfect life situation is that while it is comfortable and wonderful, you quickly realize (even if it is deep down and you don't want to admit it for awhile) that there has to be more to life than this. The Bible says that we are a new creation. That the old has gone and the new has come. But what was different about our lives? We decided that God must want more for and from our lives. So, Blake and I made a scary decision. We decided, after following God for more than a decade, to finally really give our lives to God. We told Him that we wanted to be changed and used. We wanted our hearts to be aligned with God's heart, trusting that the actions would follow.

Now we are in Peru. And it may look like we have so much strength and courage for moving our family here. But we don't. If I could snap my fingers and have my old life back that easily, I don't think I would have the strength to say no. I am so selfish. Just writing this post and looking at these pictures tears my heart in two.

The only reason we were able to leave our old lives behind is because of God's strength in us. If I didn't have God lifting me up everyday and walking through this with me, we would be on a plane back to California. The loss of culture, language abilities, safety, comfort, friends, and family is too much. We are not the poster family for missionaries. Our history would not show that we should be here. But we are here because we made the decision to be obedient. It is that simple.

And that obedience brings much greater rewards than comfort and safety. Comfort and safety began to feel like a noose around our necks. Everyday, as our eyes were more and more opened to how most of our fellow human beings live and what the Bible says about that, that noose grew tighter and tighter. We were suffocating on our own selfishness. I still struggle everyday with selfishness and the tension of having more when others have so little. But it no longer feels like a noose, it is no longer suffocating me. Obedience has brought freedom. We are living simply and resting in the knowledge that God has us right where he wants us. We are beyond thankful to be a small part of the story of redemption that God is writing. And the days where I throw a fit and say it's too hard to be part of this story, I am thankful that God's grace covers me and that his strength and power pull me off the ground and back onto my feet.

14 comments:

chrissy said...

so awesome! Praying for your family!

Nakisha 'Kisha' Guzman said...

Wow, I hope that we can support your work. Blessings to you all.

julemeyaard said...

Beautiful...inspiring...praying for your family. Thank you.

Erin said...

What an inspiring testimony of faithfulnes. God is using you all!

Kelly said...

This is the lesson God has been teaching me this week. I can't do this life alone, but I don't have to do it alone. All God requires of us is our surrender.

Andrew Hartman said...

I am so grateful for your honesty. I am being significantly impacted by your experience in Peru.

Kelly @Faith Passed Down said...

This is really, really great.

I went to college in Irvine (at Concordia), have done a couple short-term trips to Peru, and my husband and I are getting ready to do overseas mission work in a year or so, so there are parts of your story that seem quite familiar!

I especially liked the whole part about "The thing about having a near perfect life situation..." and the idea that there should be something new and different about our lives as believers.

Thanks for your words! I've been enjoying reading your blog for awhile but I don't think I've ever commented... it is really an encouragement to read and hear about your lives and all that God is doing in you!

ele said...

amen. so grateful for your words and the truth they speak.

Rachel said...

Thank you :).

The Wood Family said...

Beautiful!

Sarah said...

I just have to say how awesome it is to be on the other side of the equator, struggling with homesickness and loneliness, BUT have this awesome online community to encourage us. This has become our lifeline, so thank you all!

Anonymous said...

Really, really good Sarah! Love and miss you guys a lot! The noose, freedom, and obedience really hit me in this post! Ugh, Thrash

NOLA said...

Wow, this post really shifted my axis (come here through Rage Against the Minivan).

I live and work in Liberia; I've traveled and volunteered throughout the world, but this time I am making the best money of my life. And I am far less happy. I had completely somehow forgotten that I'm here to be in service to others (it's just helpful to a vast student loan debt that I have a paying job). Mind you, too many of the people I work with every day are corrupt on so many levels - but that's a result of international organizations' irresponsibility, not a typical Liberian way of being.

I can't be naive about the negative effects of huge NGOs in Liberia and other places, but I can focus on the positives and concentrate my work there. I can also get out and meet real people who are not in the sector; I had plans once I got here to establish a relationship with an orphanage, but then I was always so tired of people and instead wanted to curl up with a good book in my air-conditioned apartment in a compound with high walls and razor wire and take vacations to exotic locations.

Thank you for helping me get back to my priorities!

fiddlehead said...

I love your honesty and feel your love and strength. You will never regret this very meaningful time in your life and what you are offering your children and the world. It is amazing and I am in awe.