For a few months now, I’ve been struggling with challenges I didn’t prepare myself very well for. I’ve shared a little here in the past about my visits to Haiti and how, up until last Spring, I had always thought that my being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom was the plan; the only plan for my life. But God had more waiting and, when He called, I answered. Where He led, I followed. Knowing I was in the middle of His will for me, I trusted in the seemingly crazy plans He had in store- whatever those might entail. Every few months, I’ve been making the trip to an orphanage a few hours away from Port-au-Prince to love on a group of children God’s etched on my heart. A few of them have special needs, a few of them are simply in desperate need of one-on-one attention. To ensure I’d do my best, I took some training classes on trauma care as well as spent my “free time” (after my kids were in bed) learning as much as I could about this country that I’d suddenly found myself tied to. Along with all of that, I learned that loving others, as simple as it is, is the most important “job” we have. I fell in love with the truth that I had been chosen “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14); to bring what little I had to the table and watch God do big things with it.
In the beginning, there was no question in my mind that, if God was calling me to short-term missions work in addition to the calling of motherhood, He would equip me to do both well. I trusted His leadership over the two roles I found myself in. In the beginning, I had nothing but support from family and friends…in the beginning. But all beginnings come to an end.
There was a slow change in the tides. People started saying things…things that re-opened old wounds and shook my confidence. The Devil snuck in and planted seeds in hearts; whispered lies in ears. People I thought would always be there for me began to back away. Loved ones I trusted started rumors and cast judgements about my parenting; about who I am as a person. I found myself retreating. Walls around my heart that had taken years to tear down were being built up again. I got scared to look inward, for fear that maybe what they were saying was true…Maybe I’m not good enough to be both Mom and Missionary. Maybe I am scarring my children by being gone for a week every few months. (Side Note: Someone please explain to me how my husband going on business trips is not going to scar them, but my going on mission trips is…?!) Maybe I am taking too many risks. Maybe I am under qualified. Maybe I don’t know enough, or I care too much. Maybe I don’t have enough love to go around. Maybe I can’t fulfill God’s calling on my life. Maybe I am stretching myself too thin. Maybe I am trying to be something that I’m not. Maybe I don’t belong on the mission field. Maybe…
I fell hard. I didn’t know what to do with all the feelings of betrayal and fear. I began to doubt every part of myself, and questioned whether or not I should continue to go to Haiti. I went from feeling purpose-driven, both at home and at the orphanage, to feeling lost; from feeling supported to isolated.
I’d love to say that I picked myself up, brushed myself off and moved forward in confidence. But I didn’t. I ached and I cried. I got angry and frustrated and bitter. I fell into depression; sunk into self-pity. I grieved over and longed for that feeling of assurance that I was right where God wanted me to be. I felt like, no matter what I chose to do, I’d be failing someone. I bought into the lie that, not only was I not good enough, but that God had been wrong to choose me. I allowed the judgements of others to steal my joy and shake my belief that I was capable of being all that God was calling me to be, and that I was allowed to struggle without it meaning that I was unqualified.
I had gone into the adventure of missions work knowing deep in my bones that love was my primary goal; to simply love the lost and hurting with the same kind of love Jesus had shown me when I was desperately hurting and painfully alone. And now, here I was, buying into the lie that love was too simple. How could just loving someone ever change their life? And who was I to think that I could ever love someone well enough to draw them near to Jesus? Thankfully, Jesus shook me with the truth of exactly who it is that I am, and what that means for my life:
I am a child of God. As His child, I AM an expression of His love…And, as I share His love, I am reflecting who HE is. The act of loving others is, in itself, THE calling. For all of us, regardless of title or occupation. And it is NOT restricted by our limitations, circumstances, or status.
“…if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.” 1 John 4:12
We are living expressions of His never-ending, power-releasing, shame-crushing, joy-infusing, chain-breaking, life-saving love. The same love that took the sins of the world away and opened the doors to Heaven LIVES WITHIN US. Whether we are CEOs or Moms; whether we spend our days working for the president or wiping baby butts…we hold the power to save lives by simply doing what we do with love. When that truly sunk in for me…clarity came. That’s when I broke free from worrying what everyone else thought about how I live out God’s calling on my life.
I can be a mom and a missionary, and I can do it well. I can fulfill my purpose in the big and the little things by simply choosing to do them with a heart after Jesus. I can make a difference, even if those around me don’t agree with how I’m doing it, because I’m fueled by the love and passion of The One who created me; The One who created those I’m called to serve. And I can do it all without shame.
If you feel judged about living out what you believe is God’s calling on your life…cast it off, into the loving arms of your Father. It’ll free up your hands for so many greater, more beautiful things. It’ll allow you to walk in freedom as a living expression of His love; the love that will change the world.