Thursday, February 17, 2011

and so it begins...

So they say that "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step" but it began for me with a Facebook message...a proposition from a sweet family I met in France last year to come nanny for them as they pray God blesses them with a new little one. I was definitely surprised and completely honored to have been asked but after just a couple of days of pondering it, I could not see myself moving so far away from my family for a whole year and told them regretfully that I would not be able to help. I must admit that as I finished the message and moved my cursor to hit "send" I hesitated for a moment. It bothered me to tell them no but at the same time I felt it would bother me more to say yes. I tend to have difficulty saying no anyway and assured myself it was okay, that I couldn't help EVERY one.

A second request came, asking me if I would please pray with them for three weeks about it? Well surely I could handle that! If it really wasn't for me then there was no worries and I would definitely want God to send someone that could help them. But almost instantaneously a strange feeling of uneasiness began to bubble up inside. I found myself uninterested in praying seriously about whether God wanted me to go and was instead jumping straight to "God since You know I can't do this could You please send someone else?" The struggle grew within me because I knew this wasn't how I was to pray...I wasn't even allowing that God might be sending me, I was telling Him what I wanted Him to do. I knew this wasn't the right attitude to have but I felt like the more I prayed the harder I was clenching my fists shut and God was gently saying over and over "you have to open your hands". Somehow I knew though that if I did it would mean I had to go...

During this time I shared some of my thoughts and feelings with a few close friends trying to find some direction in just talking it through and secretly hoping they would have good reasons why I shouldn't go or help me think of some. So far the only reasons I had come up with on my own were primarily selfish. Of course God uses friends to speak to us and instead of giving direction either way the first few days the messages repeated themselves from more than one source--you promised to pray for three weeks about this, you have to follow through. Then a second insight that first started in my own heart but was confirmed aloud by another friend. What is your reason for being so sure you don't want to go? Well, I just can't leave my friends and family! Is God not enough? I was stunned at this one. Of course God is enough! But He gives us people for a reason, I argued. Are you not willing to let them go for God?

On and on I wrestled. My emotions swung like a pendulum back and forth, back and forth. One day I thought He was saying go and the next I just really didn't think I had that "peace" everyone said I would have because I couldn't get over what I would leave behind. But the true turning point came when one day I decided "since I don't have an obvious peace about going, I should just stay then". This lasted an hour or two and then the more the day went on the more uneasy I became. An older, wiser friend who happens to be my boss had made the statement that this opportunity was just made for me. I would be able to be a missionary as well as doing what I love helping with children and ministering to a Christian family. Of course she was right, but I was still having trouble unclenching my fists. As the days went on I realized more and more I really didn't have any good reasons to not go. Finally Sunday, the day before the three weeks ended, we heard a lesson at church from Dr. Charles Stanley on prayer and almost every point was confirmation that God had been giving me an answer all along, I was just choosing to not accept it. I wanted it to be easy and God doesn't ask us to do easy things. If we only did easy things we would never learn or draw closer to Him.

Of course it came back to my mind more than once how much I loved the French culture, food, I had told people when I came home that if it weren't so far away I could easily live some place like that. Oh yes, I did say that. It's probably in this blog somewhere too. I did find the language barrier to be quite troublesome but overall I liked the French life. And the clothes! It wasn't like God was asking me to go to China, or Africa, or India...places that I would surely find difficult to grasp the culture or language easily. He was sending me some place relatively "easy".

I messaged the family on Monday and let them know I had prayed about it and felt God directing me to move forward. The reply I got was so precious. They were thrilled to hear I would come. To hear them talk about it I was completely humbled. Who was I that the Lord chose me for this assignment, to be the answer to so many prayers? I felt like crying and knew more than ever I'd made the right decision.

So I begin this journey and wonder what all lies ahead. My previous trip to France felt so completely removed from my normal reality that I would probably liken it to stepping through the wardrobe to Narnia. I'm excited to go back and yet I know it won't all be fun and a piece of cake. There will be moments of loneliness, of homesickness, of missing the people I love...but He is enough. I would greatly appreciate your prayers and support on this new adventure. I'm definitely going to need it. :)