Two and a half years ago, after enduring without exaggeration the worst week of my life, my small group leader and friend (and new roommate!) would pray with me when I found it impossible to even know what to pray, or seemed to have forgotten how to pray. She would say, “Heavenly Father in Jesus name…you have given us not a spirit of fear, but one of power, and love, and of sound mind.” I could not fathom walking in a spirit without fear, and nor could I imagine walking in a spirit of love and sound mind, but I prayed with her anyway, sobbing, giving myself up. Months later when my mother died, we’d pray the same prayer again, and then again when my grandmother died, and again when my Dad got sick. As the months passed, I found myself praying that prayer alone, without anyone’s help, and my faith in God to answer my prayer grew with each passing tragedy.
Yesterday morning I woke up to a text message from a friend who is moving with her husband down to Houston for an internship for her work as an occupational therapist. They’ll be back to Fort Worth in a year, when she’s finished, but it’s still a big step for them. They love our city, and our church, where they met and fell in love. She told me once she’d taped up the last box, and took a good look around at her house, and their sweet little home, she burst into tears and could not contain it. She ugly cried so hard, she said she was pretty sure she’d scared her husband. And then she said, “And then I thought of you, moving around the world by yourself, and not even certain when you’ll return, and realized man you’re brave. You’re one tough gal.” I responded with something clever, like that Texas women are tough, and that I see the same toughness in her too (because I do) and that it’s alright to cry because those who cry often are the ones who’ve held it together the longest. (And ain’t that the truth?) And that her husband should see her ugly cry because that’s what intimacy is all about. But I didn’t say what I should have.
The past month or so has been a month of goodbyes. I’ve been all over the state to see family and make memories with them; I held a moving sale; I sold my furniture, even my beloved 100 year old vanity and DIY coffee table. I boxed up the precious things and gave them to relatives to hold for me, and tossed the rest, or donated it to the missions at church. I have been so blessed along the way this month in my preparation. From my mentor showing up with her entire family to help me pack, to my dear friend who has allowed me to stay with her for the past two weeks, to the friends who have showed up at goodbye dinners and happy hours and have laughed and lived with me, I have been blessed.
But it’s more than that, you know. Everywhere I turn, I have a friend who has a friend in South Korea and wants to get us in touch, and most of them follow through. The director for my recruiting company emailed me and everyone else who signed the same time I did to introduce us all to each other, and I connected with most of them via social media, and I am beside myself with excitement to meet them and develop friendships with them.
And the biggest kicker of all, the one that reinforces to me that God wants me in South Korea, is that I have some friends who are missionary kids, and their folks are still in Asia. We have connected, and they have messaged me and have loved on me from afar, and I know they are praying for me. In short, I know without a doubt in my mind that I am not alone, not physically, spiritually, or emotionally. The breadth of God’s family has me floored. There are people I do not yet even know who are praying for me as I type this, in addition to those who do know me and love me.
As I have walked the last few years years, I’ve faced some of the harshest lies of the enemy.
Unlovable. Despised. Rejected. Abandoned. Those were dark days.
“Because you deserve it,” the enemy said.
But the love of Christ has said otherwise. The love of Christ has said, “No, I will take on the hatred, rejection, and abandonment for her. She is my sister and she is precious. She is the daughter of a King, and she will not be lied to.” And the thing is, Christ says the same thing for all of us, and when we accept this love, this irresistible grace, we become family.
I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God…You split the sea so I can walk right through it. You drown my fears in perfect love. You rescued me so I can stand and say I am a child of God.
The thing about the Israelite’s enslavement in Egypt is how sweet it was eventually to be set free. True, they screwed up later in every single way, but damn, watching the waters roll in across the Egyptian soldiers must have been the most jaw-dropping freedom. That’s what dodging marital bullets is like. That’s what walking away from the lies of the enemy is like.
To my OT friend, what I should have said is, when you experience grace and love like walking across the seafloor of the Red Sea, and really start to see and believe the freedom placed before you, it makes you do things you never thought were possible. Like move around the world and be all right because you have a family everywhere you go when you’re a child of God. He promises never to leave you nor forsake you.
It makes you tough. It makes you brave.