Constant Struggle with Loss

The feeling of loss, is one I wrestle with often and one I probably will carry heavy on my heart as long as I live in America, where it’s a constant reminder of being a foreigner, where I constantly find myself longing to grasp on to something familiar that’d bring me comfort and a safe childhood memory and help me be grounded. The truth though is  that nothing around me is familiar, it’s all a new reality, a new home and a new comfort that doesn’t go to the depth of this loss that creeps in me when I miss home, my real earthly home where I grew up, where I took my first steps and learned how to talk, read and write.  The home where everything is familiar, comfortable and known, where it feels like my whole community is my family, where there is no isolation behind closed doors, where people find serenity amongst being in each others presence.

This sense of home is what my mom brings with her when she comes to visit us from Ethiopia, all the familiarities from my childhood, my old way of life and norms come alive again. This time she stayed with us for ten full beautiful months, and she served us with so much humility and grace. My mom is the real deal, her example to me is and has always been “Less of me and more of Christ”. Tt never fails, she exudes total humility and surrender to the Lord, thus she gives just that to those around her.

This morning we said our goodbyes because she had to go back, but as always I found myself struggling with wanting to follow her, and just go to the place where I know I’ll feel grounded, I can’t lose this comfortable place in my heart and I find myself tempted to go back home. To me, if I didn’t know the Lord, if I couldn’t take comfort in knowing that America or Ethiopia is not my real home but heaven is, I don’t know if I could have walked this immigrant walk well. I’m grateful to the Lord who makes my life and journey meaningful by reminding me the richness of this journey he has me on, and it’s service as a constant reminder of the longing for heaven.

This loss is a tough one because of it’s reoccurance, when you go through a break up or lose a friend, you can grieve the loss in one process no matter how long or short it takes but this loss is so constant and so painful. I’ve been dealing with it for over 14 long years but overtime I think I’ve conquired it, it comes back. It’s as deep and fresh as when I first experienced it as a teenager who left home trusting the calling God had placed in her heart to follow him and make disciples. The pain makes me forget why I’m here in the first place and pushes me to question and reprioritize my life. Is it worth it, is the call to ministry, to life as the other, the outsider and all the sense of unfamiliarity worth being here? But then, when all the emotion hanging over me subdues I remember the reason I’m here, it’s not my doing but the Lord’s. Not my calling but His, and not my journey but one he paved for me, so I end up saying, heck yea! It’s all worth it compared to the face of Christ I get to see clearer and closer every time I experience this loss, the realness of his comfort to my soul, the true community I experience only found among believers, It’s worth it because this loss forces me to rely on Jesus and His people.

I love this verse “….. but we rejoice in our sufferingsknowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces characterand character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shamebecause God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been givento us.” Romans 5:3-5 This is the reality of my soul at the moment, the hope found in trusting God’s work of sanctification in my heart.

It’s a tough journey but, if it wasn’t tough, I would have nothing to help me dig deeper in the word, to find my comfort in the presence of the Spirit of God himself and to let myself break down and watch the father restore me back to the way he wants to remake me. I am a vessel in his hands, and this loss of separating from those I love the most breaks me EVERY TIME! BUT, my father restores me making me stronger than before EVERY TIME….and I wouldn’t trade that for anything! To be in his presence is better than life itself and I know that so well.

Friendships That Last A Fiery Furnace

I’m reading the book of Daniel this week and thus far I’ve been so encouraged by the integrity and perseverance Daniel displays as he stands up for what he believes and trusts God to bring the outcome He desires. It’s been such a refreshing couple of days studying Daniel’s life and his impact on his fellow friends who were also in the same boat as him. These men who also went into exile with him were named Shadradch, Meshach and Abednego and later on we see they too display great courage and faith in the Lord.

A couple of days ago, I read the first two chapters before I went to bed, and I was so captivated with his character that I woke up thinking about it.  The purity of Daniel’s faith and his undeniably courageous character is one I long to have. Daniel’s faith & knowledge of God and His boldness didn’t start the moment he was summoned to interpret the king’s dream or when he was thrown into the lion’s den. He has been walking with the Lord way before that, when he was first selected as one of the King’s servants and had 3 years of preparation he chose to eat all vegetables and not defile himself with the royal foods and wine. Daniel’s boldness wasn’t the only one highlighted but of his three friends Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego.  They were able to keep their purity as well and God gave all four of them favor before the King’s men and later on before the king himself.

It’s evident that Daniel’s convictions rubbed off on his friends as well. I started thinking that morning, who do I have in my life that displays such courage, not because of what they have or who they are but WHOSE they are.  Who inspires me to follow after God whole heartedly.  I like asking this question once in a while because I believe in having heroes of faith that I personally know.  Not only people I’ve read about or I follow on social media, but those I dine with, laugh and cry with.  In this season of life the list is sadly very short, this contagious character has only come far in between and those friendships are once that will last a lifetime.

Scripture says that everything Daniel and his friends did God blessed and they did ten times better than anyone else in the kingdom. God’s favor goes before those who choose to set themselves apart for his work, those who are not afraid of the consequences of following Him, those who will blindly follow Him and will put boundary around what is His. I love the picture of unity and collaboration painted in  this passage.

When I think about Daniel and his friends, I think about a group of men who followed after God so faithfully and spurred each other onto good works. I long to be filled with wisdom and tact, like them to be quick to listen and slow to speak. But as I think about that, the reality of this season of life where most of my dearest friends live more than 200miles away strikes me and I wonder if God would AGAIN give me such community I once had.  They are too good to be true, would God STILL have more people like that?

We’ve moved twice in the past 3 years and are just starting to put roots down in Charlotte, NC. Moving isn’t a new thing for me, I’ve moved more times than I can count in the past 15 years, but these past two moves have been the hardest. Maybe because moving as a 3 person family, than one…all by myself fitting into whatever world I was thrown into is a new phenomenon, I don’ know. What I know is, I’m ready for my new normal to begin, to have those comforting talks and hugs.

I’m thankful God is here and he’s given me Himself first and my sweet family second to be my constant, but it’s time for me to find my Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego. As I mourn the loss of proximity to my old but still best friends, God is readying me to make room for new ones. Building community is all about making room for people, in our homes and in our hearts. We can’t receive love from others without giving it, we cannot establish trust without taking a risk. I’ve realized that I don’t want to miss out on the friendships God has for me that can withstand the fiery furnace because I’m still mourning the loss of old friendships.  It is my distrust in God’s unending goodness that keeps me from expecting more meaningful friendships to flourish.  Maybe I feel selfish for having all the wonderful people I know as my friends and I’m afraid to ask for more, I feel stingy but it’s a necessity and God is the giver of all good gifts.

As I look into the future, I am sure there will be many trials and joys awaiting me, thus why I am choosing to take the first step and pray for my new friends of this next season! Those who don’t defile themselves by the temptation of this world, those who have committed to standing for truth no matter how costly it is, those who are eager to pray and pursue christ with me and those that just want to laugh and enjoy a good movie.  Praying for friendships that last a fiery furnace and trusting my heavenly father to be walking in it with us.

_ Inspired by Daniel 1 & 2