Maybe it’s because it’s 3am and I’m far from home, or maybe it’s because I tend to think the best when indulging my insomnia, but I’ve realized things aren’t like at all like I hoped they’d be. And that breaks my heart.
Some of you that take the time to read my posts might remember my idealistic rantings about moving from Toronto to Ireland, where I would instantly feel a sense of belonging and welcome. I would see an end to my wandering and my sojourning and feel rooted and established in a place that felt like home. I’d be fulfilled by the work I came here to do, and I’d start this amazing and exhilarating life overseas. I would be brave. I would be adventurous. People would be proud of me. They’d look at me and think “wow, that Lena is so cool and so brave for stepping out in faith like that”. They wouldn’t see me as the girl I was typecast as: the one with the past. I could be someone knew. I was sure that a new life was awaiting me. One that would make everything okay.
And it’s not like I was running away from anything–I still hold to that. I still wholeheartedly believe that God called me to this beautiful place for His purposes. But I’d be lying if I said things were exactly as I had envisioned them.
Something they don’t always tell you in the Christian world is that being a missionary is brutally hard. And lonely. And draining. I’ve dreamed of living in Ireland since I was in high school, and now that I’m here I’ve never been more homesick in my entire life. I wake up wishing I was in Toronto. I miss my old job as a barista. I miss having dinner dates with my friends. I miss going home to see my family and hanging out with my siblings in the city. I live in the place I’ve always longed for, and wish I was back in Ontario. I mean, Ontario isn’t even the coolest province in Canada for goodness sake. And Ireland has castles pretty well everywhere. There’s one down the road from me. Like, what the what?
I’ve been here for six months now and it feels like an eternity. And what breaks my heart the most, apart from being away from my family and the love of my life, is that things aren’t what I expected them to be. I feel like a fool for putting on those rose-coloured glasses. I know better than that. I must admit that for the first time in my life, I find myself desperately praying for friends. I have amazing friends at home who I love dearly, but I have very few here. I have very little in the way of community. I don’t have the chance to attend one church regularly. I don’t have the chance to make solid connections or set down roots. My wandering hasn’t stopped, it’s just continued in a different place. And I’m starting to feel tired. Weary. Worn.
But all of this aside, I have to trust that somewhere ahead, things are changing. I believe in a gracious and loving God, who sees me in my desperate loneliness. Who hears me when I cry. Who knows what my heart longs for. And even more than that, he cries out for me too. I have to believe that this season is just that–a season. It will pass. And when it does, a new one will be ushered in. A season where I see the Lord glorified through these struggles and this heartache. A season where there is more than enough space for me to rest my weary bones.
I was hoping to find the purpose for this post as I wrote it, but I guess that didn’t really happen. I guess this is just some honesty at 3:30am from your average overseas missionary. Sometimes what you thought would be perfect and lovely turns out to be broken and painful. But maybe that’s okay. Because somewhere, deep within the hurt, is something to learn. Something that will make the view from the top of the mountain more beautiful. Until then, I’ll pray through the valleys and the trenches.