It’s been a while since I wrote on the blog… Part of the reason is that Jacob and I are working on a new project, which we will unveil very soon. It's big (for us!), but we're super-excited about its potential for transformation. Curious? I know you are. But you'll have to wait a little while longer and then I'll share more.
The other reason I've been quiet is that I think I’m at a loss as to what I should write about. Life is decidedly normal. This place that is so foreign has become so common. Isn’t it funny how everything can become routine? We get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, repeat. I know some people imagine our lives to be a grand adventure, but it really isn’t. It’s just life, and on most days, that’s an adventure enough…
It hasn’t always been like that. In just a few days, Jacob and I will be celebrating our two-year anniversary of living in China. (AKA: The hardest two years of our lives.) Looking back on the last two years, it’s hard to fathom how much has happened. When we first arrived, we had no idea what to expect and no idea what was ahead. Good thing ignorance is bliss.
It didn’t take long for things to get hard. Within a few months, we were worn out – emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. We were sick a lot the first 6 months, especially Jacob. To be very transparent, when we moved here, I thought that God was super-impressed with our willingness to “give everything up and move to the other side of the world for Him.” I sort of expected this amazing spiritual awakening, where I’d be more aware of God’s presence and more in-tune with his spirit. I think we got the exact opposite. On top of all the new sources of stress and confusion, it was an incredibly dry period spiritually.
And we trudged on…
With spring came a new perspective. It’s amazing the difference sunny weather and a few blooming trees can make on a person’s disposition. Our health and moods improved, and we kept going. At this point in our life, China was still mostly uncomfortable. The honeymoon was definitely over (was there ever one?), and we were doggedly staying the course. It wasn’t out of desire at that point; it was only out of a sense of obedience. Good thing we’re both stubborn. Though we stayed, we began intensely wrestling with questions like: What do we want to do with our lives? This is what we wanted... Why aren’t we happy here? Does God even want us to be happy? How long should we stay? If this is what we were supposed to do, why is it so hard? There were no answers; only more questions… some people told us that what we were experiencing was normal, and others told us that it must be a sign that we weren't cut out for this work and we should come home. We didn't feel a peace about leaving, and so we tried to lay it all down.
And we just kept walking...
Fall came, and with it the threat of winter. Our first year in China wrapped up, and it wasn’t an easy season. I think October of last year might have been the low point. The first year was incredibly hard and stressful, but mostly we focused on survival. After we managed to crawl out of survival-mode, we thought we were in a pretty good place, but then October of last year turned nasty. We were almost arrested, I caught a very serious case of double-pneumonia, and again we felt spiritually abandoned and confused. I learned lessons of gratefulness in this season of self-pity, and looking back, I’m profoundly thankful for the ways we grew.
That winter seemed more manageable than the first (here’s hoping to an even better winter this year!), and I can’t even track how spring turned into summer and now into fall. It’s funny, for all the emotional turmoil of the last two years, life now seems profoundly normal. And so I feel like there is very little to blog about.
But I know that is not true. This blog has become my own journal, more than anything, and I read it to remember where we've been and why we just keep walking. So for the remainder of this month, as often as I am able, I'm going to focus on what China has taught us… the lessons that I hope stay with us no matter where we go.
I’ll start tomorrow. And will you join me? I think they are lessons that many of you have learned as well, in your own walks of life. We may all go different routes, but oftentimes it seems we walk the same hard path.