I’ve been toying with the idea of sharing this, as I’m not totally sure it will be received well, but here it goes…
Being a missionary means being a stranger at home.
What I mean is… there comes a point as a missionary where you become a stranger in your home town, or church, or to your friends. When you’re not sure where or if you fit, conversations are more surface and less friendly, and there is an obvious disconnect in almost everything you do.
This is sort of something that we’re used to. Getting married as young as we did and joining the work-force right away, we set ourselves apart from our peers who were still single, in college, and working part-time. We were disconnected from people our own age. But it was the right thing at the right time for us.
When you become a missionary, this happens again. You’re doing something that is so radical in the eyes of pretty much everyone, that you become disconnected from “normal” things. It makes people uncomfortable; they’re not sure what to say or ask or do. They assume you’re hyper-spiritual and put you up on a pedestal. We’re really just normal people.
I get it – it’s hard to understand why someone would give away their things and move far away from everything they know to fly airplanes in the jungle on some third world island. Why would anyone choose to say goodbye over and over and over again? Why would anyone want that heartbreak? That distance?
As we get closer and closer to leaving the USA for PNG, I’ve found myself getting more and more excited. This is what God has been preparing us for our whole lives; what we’ve been walking steadily towards for the last 3 years. This is it!
And I feel felt totally guilt-ridden. What kind of horrible person does it make me to be excited about something that I know will cause tremendous pain to myself and to people I love dearly?
But I’ve realized that it’s okay for me to be excited, even though it will hurt… Because this is what God has been preparing us for our whole lives; what we’ve been walking steadily towards for the last 3 years. This is it! And He has enough grace to cover all of that hurt.
It’s a strange thing… feeling like a stranger, in a place that should be home. It feels isolated. It’s sad. As we get closer to leaving, people pull away so the hurt is less when we do go – I’ve done it, too, and I totally get it. Josh is a wonderful help for me as I go through all of this for the first time, since he has dealt with this disconnect a lot longer than I have, but it’s hard for me who is connected to everything everywhere.
Now I’m on the other side of it, the isolated side of it. The side where people say “You’re a missionary pilot – we can’t be friends because you’ll leave” (note: didn’t happen to me exactly that way, but to one of my sweet friends). Even though we’re feeling quite isolated right now, we have made deep connections with our co-workers, who have all dealt with this is some form or another. I guess, in a way, that makes us more isolated, because we choose to hang out with people who get it in a way no one else can. The ones who’ve been there, done that… and who can remind us that we do all of this, that we deal with all of this because of the Gospel and those who have never had the chance to hear even one word of it. That makes it worth it. That makes it okay. And that makes it much less lonely.