Tonight the rest of the teams will leave to their destinations and my heart is clenching up just thinking about it. I hate goodbyes.
Unlike my Asian-American upbringing which taught me to be strong, independent, and courageous all on my own, I’ve spent the last ninety days in close quarters with 40 individuals—learning to trust and rely on others; baring my insecurities and pains; crying my heart out when I was hurting; celebrating others’ joyful moments and crying with them in their dark ones; sharing my deepest fears, and asking for forgiveness when I was in the wrong…
Yeah, all that comfortable stuff.
As the youngest in my family I believed the lies that my voice didn’t matter, and neither did my feelings. I’d suppress so much inside until I blew up out of anger. I was too scared to communicate how I really felt, fearing that either no one cared, or that they’d use my word against me. These explosions hurt a lot of people, especially my mom, sister, dad, as well as boyfriends later on in life.
“You don’t give your heart in pieces.”
There’s something so raw, so surprising about someone who doesn’t hold back anything in love (I think this is why we love dogs so much). How often do we only reveal parts of ourselves? Perhaps that’s one reason why marriage is so hard—because the “real” you comes out, flaws and all.
And yet, Jesus never only gave part of Himself. He gave up everything He was in acceptance of everything we are. It’s not about cleaning ourselves up; He accepts us just how we are, today, and not just that—He loved us so much that He bore 33 years with us on His mind until the ultimate sacrifice.
As I reflect on leaving these amazing people I’ve met, who haven’t left me or walked away from my friendship no matter how selfish or honest I’ve been, I wonder: was Jesus sad to leave his 12 brothers? The people he spent every second of every day with? Even if he was, keeping his mind on the mission was above all, in order that we could all be with Him forever one day.
I think it’s cool that God values relationships with others so much, He created us just for that: relationship with Him, and with one another. However, I don’t feel as strong as Jesus right now; my heart is still with the friends who are about to leave. And although we’ll get to see each other again in just 2 months, I can’t help but think the inevitable departure is just around the corner, when we all go back home to our “normal” lives.
There is something so special about an environment like this 3-month Discipleship Training School. I thought I would come here learning more about the Bible, but no—I gained so much more. I learned our God is not some faraway deity who punishes us or shames us when we make a mistake, rather, a Father who is so happy when we are happy living out the passions and talents He gifted us with. Jesus isn’t just a figure hanging on a cross in church buildings around the world, but a friend who cares and cries with us. The Holy Spirit isn’t just some mystical vapor; rather, our best comforter, guider, teacher, and so so powerful with the gifts He enables us to walk out.
And as for myself… I’ve learned sooo much. I now recognize and have broken off the lies that my voice and feelings don’t matter, and that I have to hide my true self so I won’t get hurt. But I couldn’t have done this without the life-giving community around me. God granted me a voice of compassion to encourage others and to tell the world who He is, not just by words but in action. He showed me that I can be quirky, happy, and even a bit sarcastic—and He loves me so much for it. He enables me to dream bigger than I even could myself, and He’s my biggest cheerleader through it. I’ve learned that I’m not an angry person and that my thoughts do matter, but that speaking the truth from love is the biggest act of spiritual warfare: a choice to “put your love on” and to strengthen relationships with those around you. I’ve learned there is beauty in difference, even in those you may not get along with, but that God created those people just the way they are and these are the people who will often help you grow the most.
Wow, this post was long. But so much happened in these past 3 months, and we’ve only just begun 🙂 As we leave to India on Tuesday, please keep my team and I in prayer, as well as the entirety of our school if you don’t mind:
- For safe travels and protection physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We’ve already had quite a few attacks in terms of health and relationally, and [UPDATE] four teams have already had mega flight delays, some even for days.
- That we choose to love one another, even when it would be more convenient not to.
- To prepare the hearts of those we will encounter.
- For faith that moves mountains, even when our rational human minds would say otherwise 🙂
Thank you so much for reading all of this and keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. Like I said, there is so much power in community and vulnerability. Please know, if you’ve made it this far, I’m praying for that same gift for you. Love you so much.