“I want to be changed, forever, again. I want my kids to grow up knowing there are whole other worlds out there, whole other peoples to care for.”
I read (the ink is invisible, but there nonetheless): You will be lonely. You will be afraid. Your kids will be, too.
I stop packing, before I even start. I go turn on worship music. A disc marked, “Courage.”
It’s songs with lyrics straight from Scripture. I feel desperate for it.
While the music starts, I open the closet door and get the black dress. I get the raincoat, the boots. The toys, the electronics. I fold and tuck and stack and place things, one at a time, into the suitcase.
The music plays. “Ask and it will be given to you. Seek: and you will find. Knock-knock and the door will be opened to you.”
What I want right now? What I want is to be through the door, not knocking on it. A year ago, when my husband asked me if we were really going to go for it, if we were really going to put all our household goods into storage, uproot our family, and move abroad just because we felt like it, I said, let’s just say yes now, because if I think about it too much, I’ll say no.
I’ve had months to wonder what I was thinking.
We aren’t adventurers. We are people who fret a lot about how comfortable our pillows are, who turn down perfectly good invitations to parties because we’d rather stay at home. Last time I moved, it took me six months to stop regretting it.
But we said yes to an adventure. We said yes because we want our kids to know the world. When I went abroad in college, I found myself a stranger. I’ve never looked at God’s commandment to care for the stranger in the same way again.
Living in the same suburb for ten years, married, blessed with two kids … that idea of being a stranger seems very vague.
I want it to be clear again. I want to be changed, forever, again. I want my kids to grow up knowing that there are whole other worlds out there, whole other peoples to care for.
Look, we’re not missionaries. Our trip sometimes seems vain to me, except for that reality of knowing that your mother tongue is not everyone’s mother. That reality of how hard it is to not be from “here,” wherever “here” is. Where we live, my Latino friends tell me, people treat them like they’re stupid because they have an accent.
I don’t ever want my kids to do that to someone.
I roll sweaters. Argyle, burgundy, grey. I stick socks into the boots to save space.
The music plays. I realize then that I’m doing what the song says. I am asking. I am seeking. I am knocking–hard–on a door of transformation. I am empty, unable to give myself what I need, which is to stop panicking, even while I obey and pack the suitcase. I am unable to conjure braveness up from the bootstraps I’m holding.
It’s something, God asking us to ask. It’s a lot, actually. God’s telling us to get to the point where we feel a desperate need. To get to the point of realizing I am terrified of what will happen if is the door is not opened wide.
I pack, and I don’t feel brave. But all of a sudden, I know I am. I am at the place of desperation and need and I will be answered. Somehow I am sure of that.
The music finishes. I am packing my daughters’ clothes now, the tiny pants and socks and dresses fitting easily into the carry-on. I see, with great relief, that there is going to be plenty of room for everything we need.