A friend said to me, “I just don’t want you so caught up in the ‘what if’s’ that it drives you mad.” Little did she know how much this simple phrase would speak to me.
This past month has been full of these “what if” questions. What if the plague comes my way? What if we have to leave Madagascar? What if we have to stay in South Africa longer? What if we don’t have time to process what we have been through? What if I can’t get the support I need? What if I can’t handle the stress? What if I don’t remember any of the Malagasy I have learned? What if I am not supported by the people back home? What if my new friends forget about me? What if I am not liked? And the list goes on and on.
When life throws you a curve ball, it is hard to not think about how the situation could have gone or will go. Sometimes these thoughts have taken away from what I should be really thinking about. There is so much unknown that comes with this year’s journey, that if I let it, it could shape how I spend and see my time here.
It has been 3 months now since I have been at my home in St. Louis. What if my definition of home is changing? When I think about what I left behind I feel sadness and a longing for a hug from my mom, a joke from my dad, and a huge smile from my sister. These things are more important than the stuff that I left behind. At the same time, the stuff I have with me means more to me. My backpack and suitcase could define the year that I am living. What if they could talk? Would they tell of the places they have been, the items they carry, the times they feel the excitement of a new place, or the disappointment of being dropped in anger? What if they help me defined home in a new way?
Friends are something that is important in everyone’s life. I have amazing friends from all over. Each brings a wonderful viewpoint to my life. Then I begin to think. What if this year changes these friendships? What if we grow apart? What if a new friend becomes more important than I could have imagined? What if friendship is defined not by how we are able to talk to one another but how we accompany? And the thoughts just continue.
Going back to Manambaro is something that I have been looking forward to since the day that I left. As I get ready to make that journey back the “what if” questions start to swirl in my brain. I so easily let these thoughts impact my feelings. Then I think about what I was told. I can’t let the fear of the unknown impact the right now. I know for a fact that there are people who are waiting for me with open arms. I know that there is nursing work that it waiting for me. I know that there is a bed for me that I can sleep in after a long day. I know that there is a support system in place for me when I have a rough day. Those “what if’s” don’t even need to be part of the picture.
God calls me to put my trust in where I am being lead. Questioning the journey is so normal. I always want to find out more. But, I am called to be still and let God take on the struggles (Exodus 14:14). The “what if’s” that I carry with me are not my friend. They push me down paths that are full of pain, hurt, and struggle. I am not saying that God’s journey for my life will be easy but God’s path has so many blessings along the way. John 14:15-17 and 25-27 speak of this with us God and one who brings peace.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannon receive, because if neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you”
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
This passage was read at a devotion we had once we made it back to Madagascar. It spoke to me. When I didn’t want to listen to my friend and continued to worry about the “what if’s”, God stepped in at just the right moment. Tonight I will put my questions to rest in God’s arms and sleep in peace. I know that whatever tomorrow brings I can fight through it!
The LORD will fight for you, and you only need to keep still.