Tuesday, November 15, 2011

For When Your Loved Ones Don't Understand

[I say “Don’t Understand” instead of “Disagree” because, obviously, I choose to operate in the realm of: If they understood, then they would agree… but I know that’s not always the case.]

Another aspect of loneliness “out here” is when your loved ones don’t understand the Call you’ve answered. Sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s sad and maybe you’ve cried. For the most part, my family’s pretty rockstar about this whole thing—I’m blessed to have a family who knows our Father and they keep trusting Him with me, or at least try to. But I know others here, many who have raised their whole families and planted their whole lives here for the sake of their One, True Love, and their loved ones, even after a decade or two, don’t understand.

Living in this region , many people think we’re walking into the face of danger. That we’ve gone to some office, signed a release for our lives and have essentially given up on living. Dramatic? Maybe. Mostly realistic? For many, yes. I get a lot of “WHY”s and shakes of the head and comments saying, “Oh, I could NEVER do that.” or “Wow… you’re so… brave…” or my personal favorite: “Aren’t you just SO scaaaarreedd???” [And this is from people that we love—I’m not gonna even touch how the people we don’t love so much react.]

There’s a difference to be expect based on the like-mindedness of your loved ones. If they aren’t like-minded with you, then… ok. It’s only grace that you can give them. They don’t share your heart or your Love, so it makes sense that maybe they’re not supportive [sometimes, though, these are the most supportive…]. But if they do know your Love personally, and they don’t encourage you, celebrate with you through the struggles and triumphs and “things you do for Love,” then… it’s hard.

And I think it’s totally ok to grieve these things. I think it’s ok to be sad for this loss. Some people’s families, especially my peers’, border on the “Ok, I think he’s got that almost all out of his system,” mentality. They expect us young, singles to go away for a year, maybe two, and then come back to our “senses” and settle down “at home.”

Well… if “home is where the heart is,” and your heart is given to a Relocater named “I AM,” then you’re kinda up a creek. [Or out in a desert under a bazillion twinkling stars conserving water.] Either way, your heart is changed and “home” no longer means the same thing it did just 1,000 days ago or maybe even 100. When friends are distraught that they’re not living up to the [earthly] familial pressures to have a 9-5 job, get married and raise their kids in the suburbs, I tell them, with a gentle smile on my face and a fire in my eyes that, “We. Are. Ruined.”

We’re ruined.

We’re ruined for the ordinary. Please don’t hear me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with 9-5 jobs, getting married or living in the suburbs. I dig all those things—they’re actually my roots. But I can’t do it. Not right now. So please don’t try to make me. Because this should be ok, too. They say that some “Stay, Pay and Pray” while others “Go, Sow and Grow.” We’re just different parts of the same body—and that’s fantastic. What kills me is when families, couples, singles, humans, are out here, doing their thing for Love and they’re not backed up by the very people they hold dear.

And maybe that’s you today. Maybe your loved ones don’t understand your 3-week stint in the jungle or your 25 years in the city. And I’m here to say: “Ugh. I’m sorry.” Because I am.

Or maybe you’re that person who has a loved one “out there,” and you’re missing each other’s lives. I know that hurts, too. To be left and to be the leaver—they’re both difficult roles to play. I feel those aches. I know what it’s like to have your favorite person/people gone from your everyday life—to be missing from around your table at the holidays, to not see babies grow, to not watch all the Packer games together... and I know what it’s like to be the missing one.

But I also find that it’s in these hurts that there is much beauty. And I think each person needs to come to terms with that themselves. I can’t make anyone understand or agree with my Call. But I do know that my God is strong. I ask Him, for my friends and sometimes for myself, to place a peace and an understanding in our loved ones.

Would you do that today?
And please comment—
you never know who is reading
and who needs your words.

My parents and youngest brother showin’ a girl in a yellow dress
some love over Skype.
They’re so funny. :) I adore them.
[And I miss them.]


  1. "Well… if “home is where the heart is,” and your heart is given to a Relocater named “I AM,” then you’re kinda up a creek. [Or out in a desert under a bazillion twinkling stars conserving water.] Either way, your heart is changed and “home” no longer means the same thing it did just 1,000 days ago or maybe even 100."

    Man, does that ever hit home. Thanks for sharing.

  2. 1. i LOVE the part about home being where the heart is, and our Relocater. soooo good.
    2. that picture is completely great.
    3. skype is a total lifesaver.

  3. Oh, my, I certainly do know how hard, hard, hard it is to not only leave loved ones, but to cause their disapproval and severe strains on the relationship. Like you said, though, when "your heart is given to a Relocater named 'I AM,'" He comes first. That's really, really painful, though. Extending grace over time, and prayer, seemed to help in my situation.


  4. "What kills me is when families, couples, singles, humans, are out here, doing their thing for Love and they’re not backed up by the very people they hold dear."

    When we first started out as ministry workers overseas, my family didn't understand why (tho still supportive) and most of husband's family understood and were supportive.
    Now it has switched. We have a few members of husband's family who don't understand and aren't supportive. Some of it is due to our son's actions and throwing away his faith, and these people think that we neglected our son in favor of the ministry. It's not true, but very hurtful nonetheless. These are Bible believing Christians too.
    We try not let it discourage us, and just leave it in the Lord's hands.

  5. May I repost your article on my blog? http://tryingtoclearmymuddledthoughts.blogspot.com/

  6. I followed the Relocator to the jungle of Peru 3 years ago as a single, 40 year old woman, leaving an 18 year career as an educator. Most, family and friends alike, did/do not understand, but most gave/give me the best encouragement they could/can. Many question my ability to hear God because He would NEVER send a single WOMAN to the mission field ALONE - they think I'm on a mission of self-martyrdom - but I KNOW the still, small voice that speaks to my soul. A heart sold out to Him can grieve for the way things used to be, but must also move where He leads, celebrate what is, and finds great joy in that. Two years into my time here I married the love of my life who is not called here at this time - so I am completing my term of service alone with me in Peru and him in the U.S. To say it is difficult is an incredible understatement as is to say that friends, family, and church family do not understand. My sanity is under further scrutiny - but my earthly love knows the Relocator as intimately as I do and so supports my call here and the need to complete my commitment to my mission board regardless of the price we must pay - how blessed I am! He is my biggest fan and helps us both to cope with our separation by reassuring me that God knows what He is doing and is using this time to mold us as His followers, as husband and wife, as humans in ways that can only be best accomplished in this manner. Most do not understand, cannot fathom, but that is OK. I AM is bigger than our circumstances or the stinging criticism of those who truly believe they are just trying to help with their advice and concern. As my husband and I work to extend grace and mercy to them in the same way we want to receive it, we pray that our lives might be an example and we know that this time of service and sacrifice is just a stepping stone for where God will take us next. And, like you, we are no longer normal - it is not likely that we will land in suburbia, but will love those who reside there from a distance. Thanks for the blog post - it is most meaningful!

  7. @Karen: Yes! Please feel free to re-post...we love that!

  8. as hard as it has been to let you go with what some call "wanderlust", I called it faith by fire. It tested mine most days and the small voice that I would hear that would calm me would be your blogs your emails, your posts, thru those God... let me know you were all right and He was giving you life experiences with people and places most of us will never see. He knows your heart and where you belong, and you blessedly (albeit sometimes I think blindly) follow. We will always support your choices, may not like them, but will support them. Love you bunches!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Thank you. I am feeling so homesick and wanting to just drop it all and go back to what is familiar. To the people I miss so desperately. And yet I always need the reminder that I am called. And that call supersedes it all. And it's worth it. And He's worth it. And the hurting doesn't get easier, it just gets easier to bear.

    ~~a fellow sojourner in this desert land across the river. 7 1/2 years here and no plans to return in sight. :) (friend of Sarah Schepens!)

  10. This totally rang true for me. My husband's family are not believers and do not remotely understand why we're here. We got the speech, "Get this out of your system; we'll be here waiting when you're ready to come home." We had to watch his mother sob and sob and rock our little baby the morning we said "goodbye" for the 2nd time. I felt like I was ripping her heart out by taking her precious grandchild back to South America. They haven't spoken to us in four months. We email all the time, send pictures and video, and never even hear they've received it. It's really hard on my husband. But, our Father is a Father of balance and He has allowed my side of the family to be almost over-supportive! =) So, we leave his family in our Father's hands and do what we can to communicate and then... that's about all we can do.
    [loooved the "I am ruined." statement.]

  11. Larissa: Thanks for reading, commenting and resonating with me--glad you can relate.

    Jordan: 1. Yes. It's true. 2. Thanks. It's one of my favorites--I still laugh every time I look at it! ha. 3. You're right. Thanks for reading. :)

    Linda: Ugh. Tricky and hard--but thank you for being someone who puts her Love first. He loves that about you. And thanks for sharing.

    Karen: I'm sorry your brothers & sisters have hurt you & your family--they don't "understand?" Like I said to Linda, God loves you putting Him first and listening to HIS voice when many are calling out to you, too. Thanks for reading, commenting AND re-posting! You rock. I also really appreciate how you've simply said that it hurts. Because it does. And leaving it in His hands is just about all you can do some days. He knows. :)

    PAM!: What the heck?! We need to have coffee. What an incredible story--thank you for sharing!! And wow--thanks for being faithful to your Call and Commitments--what a life you're living. Thanks for reading! I'm still speechless about how you're Following Him! (And thanks for all your sensitive wording too--my friends and I totally appreciate that!)

    Mom: Sweet Mumma. Remember when I first started saying "Thanks for LETTING me go."?? I totally meant it, and only then was I starting to realize what my "leaving" does to good parents. You and Dad are just incredible and always "let me leave"--I'm forever grateful. You've made it easier to follow my Love to the ends of the earth and back again--and I know that's a great sacrifice on your part... Now let's go visit!! :) You'll look great on a camel with a scarf wrapped around your head!! :) [love you.]

    Carrie Ann: Skapes is one of my dear, dear friends. So that means we're family. :) And yes, it's worth it. It's completely and totally alllll worth it. Someone was once sharing about raising her family there--3 boys--and just listed off a totally horrible, no-good, wicked MONTH and she looked at me and said, "Sarah? I'll take this whole month again, because am I willing to be inconvenienced and hurt a lot for the sake of His [Word]? Yes. I am." And I sat there, all 26 years of me, totally stunned and said, "Ok. Me too." Powerful stuff. Being homesick is good--I think it reminds you that you're NORMAL and that every day you're going beyond yourself for something bigger and better. So you go be homesick and skype for 9 hours straight and look at old pictures and eat massive amounts of chocolate--I totally support all these things. Heck, go visit. But always just be where He wants you and always be "all there." Get it, girl. I'm pumped to be able to write for you. :)

    TTAH: *sigh* Let's be friends. I mean, we are--virtually--but gosh. My heart breaks for you guys and your families, but rejoices in knowing that you're where you are because He's lead you there and keeps you there. That, in and of itself, is awesome. It's the real "passing the test"--when those who are supposed to help and support you don't [for whatever reason or limitation] and you still press on. You're my hero. And yeah. You're ruined. Glad you like it. ;)

    To All: What an overwhelming week. Thank you for reading and commenting and re-posting. Your sharing encourages my heart more than you know--it makes me want to just write and write and write to you, for you, about you, because you're awesome. You're doing great things. Your LIVING OUT His words to us and living with what comes with it. I'm so glad you're all here--or "there." Thank you.


  12. How beautiful you all are. I am a mother of one that has been called. I too have had my moments of selfishness and only thinking of my daughter and her safety and happiness. Believing of course, that she would be much happier in the comforts of home (INSTEAD OF FOLLOWING HER HEART AND WALKING THE PATH THAT HER FATHER HAD SET BEFORE HER). I just knew it would be hard and I wanted to protect her if possible. I hope that I never made her feel like I wanted her to stay home. I always want her to feel supported and loved. I would like to share with you the anger that is cast on parents of called ones from family members that do not understand. We have been accused of not caring or wanting to have our daughter around. It has been very painful, but of course it certainly does not compare to what you all have gone through. I do remember (and remind myself often the words that was so graciously said, "Forgive them Father for they do not know what they do." My heart hurts for those that do not understand the call of the Father on there lives. You all have my sincere love and respect. Your sacrifice is great and the day the light goes on in the eyes, and seeing the transformation of those around you, your reward is even greater. You are loved and appreciated by so many that you don't even know.


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