One of the most frequent questions we get asked as missionaries is what a day looks like in our lives. It’s also one of the hardest questions for us to answer because NO day in our lives really looks the same and honestly, like any other human, most days don’t ever go as we plan. I understand the intent behind the question of course, people just want to know what our lives look like, maybe how they are similar to their lives or what we do differently. Whatever the intention, it is kind of a dreaded question for missionaries. Sorry to be honest about it, but it is. Now don’t think please that if you have asked that question that you get an eye roll from us. Not true. We have likely been asked that question so much that we have a nice, planned response, like what I answered. No day is the same for us. So, why, do you ask, do I bring this up? I bring it up because today was one of those days that has not turned out as expected, it’s one of those that I could put down as a “good” ministry day, although it came from an unexpected place and I almost missed it. I had just gotten home from exercising and was actually looking forward to the possibility of taking a nap or writing, but in reality I probably would have tried my hardest to catch up on emails or the other 50 things I needed to do on the computer. However, I brought empanadas home and wanted to share them with our friend and church member who was helping in our house today. We started with sharing coffee and empanadas and small talk and then asked how each other were doing.
The simple question of asking how someone is doing…
I think a lot of times we ask this without giving thought or space to people’s response. I learned from a friend years ago to never ask that question unless you are prepared to have a real, authentic answer.
This question lead to a 2 hour conversation. Unexpected. Unplanned. But perfectly timed.
I almost missed it.
I almost cut it short.
By God’s grace, the conversation continued and as she talked about this huge situation she was in, as she described how she was wanting out, how she was overwhelmed, how she couldn’t handle anymore, I realized I almost missed this. I almost missed an opportunity to hear someone else’s story, to carry someone else’s burden, to stand with someone and raise their arms because they are falling (Exodus 17). After tears and hugs and time spent over simple empanadas and coffee, I realized how this is what the Bible talks about when we say ‘carry each other’s burdens’. She doesn’t have many people to talk to, she even said as she has discussed this with other women in her church, they gave advice and just told her to leave, to abandon the situation to save herself. But the story is more than herself and that isn’t what she feels God would want her to do. She said God is with her and oh does that ring true. She didn’t sugar-coat it that everything would be fine. I didn’t either. I understand the realities here and they are NOT tied up in pretty presents with bows. They are hard, unpleasant, overwhelming and as she described it “a pain to my soul”. A lot situations end in pain, heartache, shame and irreversible damage. God doesn’t call us to have answers. He calls us to be “in it” with each other. He calls us to listen, to cry together, to be people. She said after our talk that a weight was lifted and she took a deep breath. I imagine this is what ‘carrying each other’s burdens’ should feel like. A deep breath, space to breath, a weight taken off because that is how it feels.
I’m thankful I didn’t miss it today, not because I’m so great, I’ve missed a lot of theses types of opportunities and because I DID almost miss it for the things on my to-list, but I am thankful for a quieted space where God already was and invited us to join Him in a holy moment. Where burdens were carried, tired arms were lifted up and weights were carried together.