A few weeks ago, Marcy and I found ourselves with a completely free Saturday, so we enjoyed a “date afternoon”. We decided to do go to a movie, something we once did regularly many moons ago. Our viewing choice for our date was Split, the recent psychological thriller from director M. Night Shyamalan. Before you worry, this is not going to be a review of the movie. However, my thoughts which I am sharing were prompted by the primary character in the film, a man named Kevin.
In the film, Kevin is the patient of a psychiatrist. Without giving too much of the plot away, Kevin has shown evidence of multiple personalities (23 if I remember correctly) to his doctor. Hence the title of the film, as his mind is “split” amongst these disparate personas, each seeking to have their moment to step forward and be heard. Over the course of the film the various personalities vie for control…and this led me to consider the challenge that I seem to face more and more these days.
OK, before you get very concerned, no, I’m not struggling with multiple personality disorder like Kevin. Yet, as we are approximately 8 weeks (or 56 days, or less than 1,400 hours) from getting on a plane to return to our home in Papua New Guinea, I find my mind being pulled in opposite directions. I find myself trying to compartmentalize life, trying to be “in the moment” of the task at hand, such as preparing lessons for my classes as Maryville Christian School…and no, I can’t think about things to do in preparation for our return to the mission field. Searching the internet for hotel and travel information for our return to the field…and no, the precalculus quiz or statistics test for next week can wait. Praying for dear friends who are walking through a second battle with cancer in the last three-and-a-half years…and no, the potential new ministry role in PNG cannot have my attention right now.
As missionaries, we have been taught that transitions are a part of our lives, we have learned that we hold onto plans loosely, we have grown to understand that change is inevitable, and is integrated into our lives. We say goodbye to friends and family when we leave for the field…we say goodbye when friends who have become family leave the field, or when we are the ones leaving. When the final months of a term on the field or home assignment arrive, I know that I have work to do…work in the location that I’m in, and work in preparation for where we are going. And yet even in the knowledge that this is part of our life, I find that my mind still struggles to not be “split”, to stay focused on what is in front of me right now. This was a struggle a year ago when we were preparing to leave PNG to come back to Tennessee, and it’s a challenge today as we prepare to return.
And yet, as I struggle to keep my mind on the immediate task, I am also reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9. The grace of the Lord Jesus was sufficient for the Apostle Paul…it most certainly is sufficient for me and my challenged mind. His grace is the reason I (we) are able to say yes, we will leave again and return to the mission field. And when we get there, His grace will sustain me. Because I’m sure I will struggle with this battle of mind again in the future. But His grace is able to keep me, even when my mind is “split”.