The other day I was on facebook and saw a missionary friend’s status. It had a picture of her two little children being dropped off for their first day of preschool. The caption said “First day of Preschool. It was rough.” The part that struck me was a comment on the status that said something like, “Why was it rough? They will learn Spanish faster than you!” I haven’t been able to get this off my mind. This comment really bothered me and I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why.
I’m sure this person really meant to encourage or didn’t mean anything at all, but sometimes I think people just don’t get it.
I wanted to comment back to her and say, “It was rough because she has uprooted her children from everyone and everything that they have ever known. It was rough because they had to wave goodbye to their grandparents in the airport and now when anyone says the word “Bye” they burst into tears and she has to ask the person to please wave and say goodbye to them one more time. Or ten. And they still continue to sob. Even if it’s the pizza delivery man. It was rough because they had to say goodbye to their best friends that they will probably, literally, never see again. It was rough because she had to leave all of her friends, support systems, relatives, memories.
It was rough because, more than likely, she wouldn’t have chosen this life. It was chosen for her and everyday she has to submit herself to it.
It was rough because now she is taking her kids to a school where the children and teachers don’t speak English, where she’s afraid that her children might not be able to communicate their needs. And she has to leave them there even if everything inside of her screams to just take them home because she has to go to language school herself. Its rough because she realizes her kids will say painful goodbyes for the rest of their lives. It was rough because she knows they will struggle to fit into the culture in which they live and the culture in which they were born. It was rough because she realizes that they will see their grandparents faces on a computer screen more than they will feel their kisses on their cheeks. It was rough because she, herself, takes away her parents’ only grandchildren. It. Is. Rough.
It’s not a super cool adventure and she doesn’t really care that her children will learn Spanish more quickly than she will.”
Lets just say this post is not from the good missionary. But she’s honest.
Sometimes I don’t want people to tell me that I’m going on a great adventure or that I’m so lucky or brave. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes I feel like I was dragged into this kicking and screaming, with big alligator tears, feeling like everything I have ever known or loved is being stripped away from me and my children.
Sometimes the thought of cheddar cheese can bring me to tears.
If you’ve ever had any love for me in your heart or cared for me at all, please don’t complain on facebook about the grocery cart at your walmart or post pictures of your girl scout cookies or mention chic-fil-a. Please. Ever.
If I’m just going to put it all out there. I grieve. Missionaries are grieving. When we say it’s rough, that’s because it is. Missionaries grieve the loss of the life they had. Friendships. Family. Safety. Familiarity. English. Yes, even chic-fil-a and cheddar cheese.
I grieve, but mostly I grieve the loss of my idols. I’m not asking for a different life. I am convinced that right now, this is the life that I was called to. Usually it’s a really good life, especially when I think of other, harder fields. I have friends that are in such dangerous places that they can’t say that they’re missionaries. They risk their lives everyday for the sake of the Gospel. They rarely or never see their family. Then I realized how spoiled we are in Colombia.
I’m reminded of a letter that Adonirum Judson wrote to his fiance’s father.
Then I feel a little spoiled, but right after that I get on pinterest or I see something on facebook and I grieve the losses all over.
Can you grieve the loss of food coloring? Why, yes, yes you can.
So, when you see her on facebook putting it all out there, just tell her you’re praying for her. Tell her you’re praying for her children. Be sure not to mention chic-fil-a…
…And when she’s not the good missionary you think she should be, give her grace…because today, maybe she got on pinterest.
Today it might just be a rough day.
Follow up post here.