There’s just some days where Jesus wrecks my heart. I am staring at this computer screen and I feel like I am flat on my face in front of His throne. There’s just some days that I do not feel worthy of that privilege… of kneeling in front of the Creator of the Universe, who knew me before I was born, and yet knows when I get up and lay down, where I go during the day and where my heart strays when I let it. He sees me and He knows me… and He loves me. There are so many things that I would like to say about my time in Ecuador, but I have not been able to bring myself to update when my heart feels so lost.
I do not like to admit that I struggle. I especially do not like to admit that I struggle in what I expected to be the best semester of my life. Here I am, living in a bustling city, visiting some of the coolest islands in the world and immersing myself in this wonderful culture… and I spend more of my time fighting than I do enjoying. I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on why this is. Living in a different culture is extremely challenging. It makes me an outsider, a minority, and each day I have to fight to find my purpose for why I am here. The days where I find myself sinking deeper into myself, not wanting to suffer through not being able to communicate what I actually want to say. The hours of silence that I spend, wrestling with God because I cannot stand not being able to deeply connect and wondering if what I am doing here is making an eternal impact. I have felt worthless, useless and purposeless.
Truth is, I never expected to struggle here. I knew that life is always a battle, but this is what I want to do with my life. I thought that I am destined to live overseas and that life would just click while I am here. Yet, the funny thing is that even those expectations that I have of my future can become an idol. And God has been stripping that away from me. When I left I had told a friend that I could not imagine every becoming homesick, because God gave me a wandering heart and there is just no way I would ever miss America. Yet I have spent the last week missing everything about my life back in America, wishing that I could spend time with people that know me and where life is a little bit easier. Dreaming about driving my own car and going to a church in English and worshiping in my own language. Here I am, the self-proclaimed world traveler and I want to go home. Something’s wrong here and I am learning that I do not think God sent me here so that I could realize just how perfect He made me for missions. Instead, He is showing me that what He is calling me to is going to be hard. I am going to want to run and hide when it gets hard and I am going to miss home. I might be visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world, but if I am not abiding in Him, they will mean nothing. Missions is not about seeking a successful ministry, it is about learning to be dependent wholly on Him as He leads me where He wills. He is ridding me of my expectations of my missions life and is preparing me for some of what will plague me as I go.
I came into this semester expecting to live it up, to enjoy every moment that God has to give me. And I have, I really have. But I have also experienced every struggle that has been part of this journey and I will walk away knowing that God is using those for a purpose. Our struggles are never in vain, and I am so deeply loved. What my heart has been put through in the last month is not meaningless, it is for an eternal glory that I cannot glimpse right now. God’s fingerprints are etched along every memory that I have of this place. Ecuador is filled with His love, whether or not I seek it. It is in these moments of struggle that I find Jesus on my knees. I might wish that I constantly lived in the mountains of this faith journey, but I know that I need to be stretched. This past month has illuminated parts of my life that Jesus wants to shine His light on, places that I still kept from Him and those that I love. I can be so good at hiding and sometimes I do not even realize that there are still things that need to be let go of. I have no reason to hide. I am loved and accepted by Jesus, who took it on Himself to carry my sins with Him onto the cross, to raise from the dead and promise me eternity by His side. It is in these moments of loneliness that that Jesus can truly grasp my heart and let that sacrifice seep into those parts of me that I do not want any to see, the brokenness that holds on to deception: He sees me, He knows me, and He loves me, THROUGH AND THROUGH. Without Him, I am nothing. And if He needs to break me completely to show me that, then so be it, Lord. Break me, mold me, challenge me.
I know that I have not done an update about home stays or the Galapagos and I promise that those will come. But right now I just need to steady my heart before the Lord and remind myself that it is He that sustains me and upholds me in His victorious right hand. My experiences here in Ecuador are incredible, but they mean nothing in light of the glory of the King of whom I love. So here are my heart notes, intimate and vulnerable. They are not easy and I hate admitting that my heart is hurting, but I am free to struggle in the grace of the Almighty, who is intricately weaving my story in a beautiful way. I do not need to be ashamed that I do not have it all together and I really feel lost on some days. It is okay to admit that I want to go home on some days and that I really dislike learning a new language on others. I am allowing myself to be genuine about what I am feeling, and that is freeing. I am not discrediting my life here, because it is amazing. It has just come with many unexpected lessons that God is going to keep revealing to me.
Psalm 77:19 says, “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” God is leading me through the seas and mighty waters, and what a blessing it is to wrestle with Him in this journey, for He is with me. His footsteps are much easier seen in hindsight, but they are there, each moment, every single day. I am resting in that promise tonight.