Over the last week, we packed our life into 26 boxes. (Okay, that’s not entirely true. We still have about 8,000 Legos, plus our clothes.)
Eight days ago we got our supplies from the shipping company. Seven days ago we found out that the only time they had available to pick up our shipment before we leave is today at 8:15 a.m. Okay! I work great with a deadline, I can do that! I canceled school for the week (homeschooling perks), shipped the kids to my mother-in-law’s for eight hours every day, and called upon my inborn strength and hardiness, passed down from my ancestors who came over on the Mayflower, who landed on a slab of granite and determined to break ground (and their backs) to make it a home. (Oh hey, incidentally, yesterday was the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing! How fitting!)
I work great with a deadline, I’m golden when we have a plan… so why, at 3:00 yesterday afternoon, when I only had three boxes left to pack, did I unexpectedly burst into tears?
Because the last time I packed things up like this was when we came back to America from Japan, when, for the first time in our married life, we had a long-term plan, a dream of what our future (and our kids’ futures) would look like.
Sitting in the middle of these 26 boxes, into which I’d condensed my family-of-five’s lives, and even though I am fully on board to go back to Japan, I was suddenly grieving the loss of that dream.
Yesterday, someone told me that if you make a decision, you shouldn’t struggle with the follow-through.
At the same time, I once heard someone observe that no one’s life ever became more secure (temporally) because they followed Jesus.
Given that second thought, I don’t see how you can’t sometimes struggle with the follow-through of the decision to follow Jesus. (Hi, Moses. What’s up, Jonah?)
I appreciate so much what John Piper said in the following message:
Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you.
The reason for that counsel is 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where Paul says, ‘We do not want you to be uninformed . . . about those who are asleep’—about those who have died—’that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.’ So, there’s real grieving, which he expects, and there’s hope. Grieving is real, losses are real, pain is real—really felt, really expressed—and hope is real that changes it profoundly.
I have in mind two kinds of losses: those who had something precious and lost it, and those who hoped for something precious and never had it. It works both ways. Sixty years go by, and forty years on you think, ‘I’ve come to terms with that,’ and then one morning it breaks over you, and you weep about a 40-year old loss, or a 40-year ‘never have,’ and my counsel is, yes, go ahead, embrace that moment. Weep.
But then, say to your weeping after a season, ‘No. You will not define me, sorrow, because my God has said, ‘No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly’ (Psalm 84:11). Therefore, even though it was good in one sense, and I miss it in one sense, I trust my God, and he has not withheld anything that is good for me.’ Yes, let there be weeping in those seasons — feel the losses. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life he’s given you.
I’m good. I really look forward to being in Japan and serving in the place where I believe God, over my 34 years of life, has prepared me to work. It’s a huge blessing and honor to be a vessel considered worthy of use in the Master’s house.
So I wiped my eyes and they picked up our packages this morning (at 7:00!!!!) (that was not my plan!! 😂) and I haven’t felt that grief again today.
I look forward to the new creation, where I don’t have to wrestle with temporal grief.
And I look forward to the people I meet in Japan being a part of that new creation, too.