Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Like you’re not where you’re supposed to be? Have you ever wondered why God has you where you are at a specific time in your life?
I’ve been feeling all of these feelings lately, and let me tell you… they’re not fun. I was so grateful for the time I spent at Mission Training International in Colorado during the month of August. I thought that being in Waco for a whole month before heading to the DR on October 1st would be good for me, but it’s turned out to be harder than I anticipated. I’ve been surrounded by people I love and friends that I cherish, but despite all of the company here I’ve felt isolated and lonely.
I love my friends – they’re are all gold. They love me well & keep me accountable, but they don’t know the things I’m struggling with as a missionary. They don’t know what it feels like to have to fully raise my own support. They have no idea what it’s like to have to pack up (efficiently & concisely) all of my belongings in hopes that they will all fit in my room when I get to the DR. They don’t know how it feels to have been essentially homeless for the past few months as I’ve traveled from country to country, state to state, raising support and attending training.
You can tell your friends & family all of these things, and they will understand most of them, but they’ll never be able to fully sympathize with you until they’ve been there themselves. Right about now you’re probably thinking, “Wow Emily… this is encouraging,” and you’re right. It doesn’t sound like a pep talk. But you know what is? Jesus went through the same exact thing that I am going through right now. For the last 3 years of his life, Jesus was homeless. He probably felt like he didn’t belong in many of the places he visited, but he loved people regardless of that. He moved from city to city ministering to people and asking people to support him. He slept and ate in friends’ homes and accepted help from anyone who offered it.
I wish I could be more like Jesus. I wish that I could be faithful despite being a nomad. I feel like I’ve been wandering around for the past 5 months with no bearing of where my home is, and that has been really hard on my spiritual life. Jesus was faithful no matter where he was or what condition he was in. When I lose my sense of “home”, I tend to let go of certain practices I had when I had a home. Quiet times tend to go out the door because I don’t have a good place to do them, I lose the ability to attend a specific church regularly which adds to my sense of homelessness, and I lose the ability to cultivate lasting relationships with friends and family because I’m not in one place long enough. But Jesus conquered all of that. He found time to sit quietly in front of the Father each day. He found community where he was at and he poured into that community with determination. He kept up with old friends and his family and never let distance determine whether or not a relationship was going to last.
As I prepare to leave for the Dominican Republic on October 1st, I am convicted to try harder at imitating the life that Christ led as a missionary. I am going to miss my family and friends that are living in the US & Singapore so much, but I am also gaining a new family in the DR. I want to have good goodbyes before I leave instead of avoiding people that will be “too hard” to say goodbye to. I want to be all in with the community I’m around, even if it’s for a short time. I want to continue to seek Jesus every day, even though I don’t have that “perfect” spot to sit at in the morning while I read my bible and drink coffee. Those things don’t and shouldn’t matter when it comes to spending time in the Word, so I need to keep reminding myself that.
A wise friend once told me that you don’t automatically stop feeling isolated or alone when you have a husband. This was in reference to me missing Connar and being jealous of all the couples who get be missionaries together, but it totally applies to me feeling out of place at this time in my life. I need to keep remembering that physical people and things won’t ever make me feel completely comfortable somewhere. The only thing that can do that is my relationship with Jesus. I need to be putting all of my hope and trust in him. Having Connar with me in the DR wouldn’t make the transition to a new life in a new country any easier. Sure, it might numb the pain a little bit, but I’d still feel isolated at times while trying to make new friends and become acquainted with a new culture/language.
I’ve been raising support for about 7 months now, and that process has been so rewarding, but so emotionally draining. I am almost fully funded now, which is awesome! But this process has taken a lot out of me. I am praying that during my last few weeks here in the US I will be able to relax a little bit and take the time I need to say good goodbyes to people. I am praying that I would learn to accept the feeling of being out of place. Jesus felt the same way and instead of dreading it, he embraced it. As Christians, we are called to feel out of place because Earth is not our home. One day we will all find our home in Heaven, but for the mean time we are put in this world to show others Jesus so that they can come Home with us. If I can constantly remind myself all of that, I know I’ll finally get rid of the feelings of isolation and displacement I’ve been struggling with for so long.
Please pray for me as I wrap up my time here in the US! If you want to see more of my prayer requests, click the Prayer Requests tab from the main menu on my blog.