The past couple of months have been difficult on our little girl. Her life has been filled with so many changes and transitions. We broke our school routine to head to the United States. We lived with grandparents and went to a preschool there. After getting accustomed to life there, we packed up and headed back. But when we came back, we had one less family here, meaning two less friends for her. Next, another friend who lived nearby moved and then left for their US visit. Then school started with a new teacher and a new classroom. On top of that, there is a new family with new kids to play with. But another family here is getting ready to leave on their US visit.
Our girlie has been quite confused by the comings and goings of people, lamenting the changes. For a child who thrives on routine and patterns, these changes have a big impact. They affect her in ways I cannot begin to understand. And no words seem to comfort her. I wish I could explain these things to her and tell her things will be different, but that would not be true. As a missionary, our life is full of constant transition – people come and go, we move constantly between two worlds (here and there), workers change, and we have an irregular pattern of visitors.
The other night at dinner, our little girl pushed her plate away and began to cry. She said she wanted her friends (who are now in the United States). I gave her a few minutes to let her emotions out. I began to explain to her when she turns 5 she can see them (because that is roughly when we are scheduled for our furlough). She said she didn’t want to wait, she wanted her friends now and she was mad because they couldn’t be together. Thoughts began rolling in my head. Why does my child have to go through this God? Why can’t she have a “normal” life with constant routines, friends and patterns?
And just like that, God gently answered me by asking me a question: what makes your family any different from any other?
Umm, well, we are missionaries with lots of transitions???
But everyone experiences transitions – transitions throughout their whole life! We transition from an infant to a toddler, a toddler to a child, a child to a teen, and teen to an adult. Even as an adult we transition – transition from students into workers, transition into spouses, transition into parenthood, transition into grandparents. But more importantly, we transition throughout our lives as Christians.
I am not the same Christian I was when I first found Christ. I have grown and learned and made mistakes and repented. I have studied the Bible and am constantly finding new things about God. I struggle with new types of sins the older I get and begin a whole new type of transition where I relearn the words of God trying to find out how best to live my life. And I struggle. Boy do I struggle…with these transitions.
Perhaps I should stop lamenting about my daughter’s plight for un-changing permanence and instead find a way to better equip her for the many upcoming transitions she will face throughout her life.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8"