The greatest challenge for me on the mission field was not the weather or the language acquisition, but rather the bringing up of my children. Mind you, it ain’t the kids per se but the me whom I saw as needing a change and a total make-over.
For instance, I like the house to be tidied up and packed away neatly before I go out, as this gives me the sense of a task done. Otherwise I will feel rather unsettled, like a half-baked cake. I can’t leave dishes undone or the beds unkempt. The extremity of my idiosyncrasies became apparent and appalling to me when I started packing up things even in my friend’s house! Moreover I love to throw away things whereas Jeff, my husband, loves to keep and store them away for later use which I could never understand as he doesn’t use them in the end. Poor Jeff, he has had a fair share of my lengthy discourses – and by that I mean nagging. But thank God his sanity is still intact. Yes, I like control and I like things done in a certain and prompt way. It gives me the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when the work is done and only then will I have the peace of mind to start on another piece of work. That is why I think holding a job outside of the home is relatively easier, as we tend to tolerate better and forgive our colleagues faster. Kudos to you parents who are at home full-time.
The opposite is true of my family. Whenever an instruction in given, I would expect it to be followed without much delay or procrastination like at the workplace. But somehow my children are far from flattering me with their immediate response and obedience. “Go and shower now,” and they would reply, “Okay, but wait.” They pricked me when I was in a hurry or rushing to get things done. They would spill only after the floor had been mopped or lie on their beds without first washing their feet. I became frustrated when what I have to put away they would take out and leave somewhere out there. There were many occasions and instances where I blew my top at my kids and expanded my energy so much that I became totally exhausted and felt guilty about my actions. As a result I would focus on their negative attributes rather than the positive ones. Even Jeff had to caution me to get a grip on my anger as I was letting it go out of control. Hmm... God has a way to humour and deal with me for my own good, and He does it through my children. Bless them.
So, God brought three wonderful children to teach me to let go and release my control back to God – that meant my confidence and identity in myself had to be re-assessed and I struggled to let that go. But if I didn’t, my family, in particular my children and all whom I love, would suffer and bear the brunt of my erratic behaviour. God graciously and tenderly led me to a realization of my situation and patiently brought me to the place and time to deal with myself. This realization did not come all of a sudden, but through a gradual depletion of my self-righteousness as I sought to do what was right and pleasing to God. Out of sheer desperation, I surrendered and gave it up to God. I couldn’t hold it together anymore and just wished it away. I had to recognize that what I was doing was hurtful and detrimental to my children. It was time to say “I’m sorry and please forgive me.”
God granted me grace and mercy through my children. Bless their innocent hearts that they are ever so forgiving; ever so ready to embrace me again and accept me as their mommy. Since God has not given up on me and He still has work to be done in picking away those unwanted frays, I am not giving up too. With His strength for each new day, I will endeavour to let it go and give it up to Him who is at this very moment transforming me more and more into His image.
God has made us what we are,
and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds,
which he was already prepared for us to do.
Ephesians 2: 10 (Today’s English Version)
Adapted from “Journey Jumbles – Real Stories...Real People...A Real God,” a JMM publication for Bartley Christian Church July Mission Month 2008.