As I re-engage with my blog and try to balance my writing time with my working-driving-cooking-laundry time, my goal is to post new content every other week. On the weeks in between, I plan to re-post some older ramblings. Perhaps with a little bit of re-working or maybe as is. I'll preface and date the older content, so you'll know what you are reading.
I wrote this blog post in January 2019. My dear friends and their toddler daughter were preparing to move to Africa. Fast forward to today. They are a family of five, still living in Malawi. Every day is not a grand adventure, but, hey, life with 3 kids is always an adventure of sorts. The words she shared with me a few years ago still resonate in my head. I have often felt them, spoke them, and even gently given them back to her. See what you think...
In a few weeks, our friends are moving to Malawi, a country in southeast Africa, where they will be living indefinitely. She will be a physician at a hospital in Blantyre and he will be building relationships with teenagers as they both endeavor to share God's love. Their daughter has much smaller goals: she is simply expecting to see an elephant awaiting their arrival. As I talked with my friend yesterday about both her and her family and friends' anticipation of their departure, I was struck by her response. She said, "It is always easier to be the person leaving for a grand adventure than it is to be the person being left behind."
When she said this, I took a long pause. For me, this represents a lot of how I view my separation from Katie.
I have said a lot of things to God. I have talked, yelled, discussed, and questioned him many times. But I can honestly say that I have never asked God to send Katie back. I would not want her to leave her current position, the hope of everything she lived for on earth, the thrill of the presence of God... for me. Sure, I miss her something awful. I am sad for you and me, as we are the ones left behind, but I am over-the-moon happy for her.
For lack of a better analogy, I have often said that what I feel now is an exaggerated version of what I feel when my kids go away to camp. I notice their absence every day while they are gone, in every little way, but I know they are having the best time, laughing and playing and learning and dancing and serving. Living to the fullest. I really want them to experience that - even though I hate that sometimes the best place for that experience is not in my presence. Jesus says, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full" (John 10:10). Perhaps we get just a glimpse of that here on earth. A little glimpse of a life of beauty and exuberance. A little glimpse of joy and relationship. A little glimpse of a grand adventure. But the fullness of what Jesus promised isn't here; it awaits us in eternity.
One day this past fall, as I walked around my neighborhood, I passed a boy around Katie's age shooting basketball in his driveway. Before I could stop myself, I said to God, It's not fair, God. It's just not fair. I would love to see Katie shooting basketball or setting a volleyball, picking out a dress for formal or taking her driver's exam, preparing for the ACT or cheering from the student section at a ballgame. Why do I have to watch her friends do these fun things while I mourn her absence in all of it? Then God responded to me... I'll tell you what's not fair. It's not fair that that boy has to live on a broken earth. He will deal with broken people and broken hearts and a torrent of ugly and evil for the rest of his life here. What Katie is experiencing is so much better than 'not fair.' She lives in life as I created it to be.
Some days, as I think of my Katie, the ache in my heart takes my breath away. Every day I miss her laugh, her smile, her biscuits, her independence, her compassion, the way she rolled her eyes, the way she ate her pancakes, the way she loved her friends, the way she bridged our kids together. Every day is different without her here. Living this way isn't easy for me, but there is no way I would ask her to come back. No way would I take this from Katie.
For Katie is on a grand adventure. And it is always easier to be the person on a grand adventure than it is to be the person left behind.