Fears and Far Away

When I told people I was moving thousands of miles away, on the other side of the ocean, to a land where I didn’t speak the language, far from everything familiar, the response so often came, “You’re so brave.” Or, “Aren’t you afraid of what could happen?”

In many ways, moving to the other side of the world requires facing fears. I have to say some “normal” fears rarely enter my mind. I’m not so concerned about things happening to me in daily life, about travel, about crossing the street (which can be a pretty scary thing!). But it can also cause a whole new pile of fears and uncertainties to creep in.

Will people forget me? Will I be able to really adjust?  Where will I fit?

A few weeks ago, with several of my teammate we discussed our biggest fears being in China.  For me, the biggest fear has long been the same—something happening to my family and not being there.

Two days later, my grandpa died.  My grandfather—the man who I hurried across the gravel driveway to see every morning as a small child. The man who taught me all about cars, boats, houses, James Bond and John Wayne.

And there I was 7000 miles away.

Yet, as I set on my bed crying I couldn’t shake the unmistakable peace upon me.

My word for the year is dependence. And I realized I had to depend that my Father was taking care of my family.  I had to realize I’m not in control.  That the hands that hold the universe hold me and my family—even on opposite sides of the world. And He tells me, “Do not fear, for I am with you.”

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One Word: Dependence

A few weeks ago, I ate dinner with some of my students on the campus they live on, about a 20-minute walk from my campus.  When we finished dinner, they said, “Miss Anna, we will walk with you.”  Often I manage to dissuade my students when they ask this question, but tonight they were walking to class, so we could actually walk in the same direction.  You see, walking with my students is a bit awkward.  They walk slowly. Really slow. Often they want to link arms, or in this particular instance, they wanted to hold hands for the entirety of the walk.  And these particular students really struggle with their English, so the walk is made in almost complete silence.

As we walked, holding hands, slowly and silently, I was squelching the urge to break free, when one of my students turned her face up to mine and said in a most earnest voice, “We like walking with you, Miss Anna.”

These simple words pierced my heart.  I wonder how often people are begging for someone to just walk with them, but I’m too busy, too distracted, too focused to simply walk with them.  I wonder how often the Father asks me, “just walk with me.” But I put it off, I don’t want to have to slow down, to deal with the awkwardness, to wait to see the direction that He’s walking.

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I wasn’t sure what word to choose when I first read the Velvet Ashes post about one word. But as I thought of one word for 2014, the Father kept bringing the word dependence to my mind. I have to say I initially wanted to reject the word in favor of interdependence.  You see dependence means that I need someone or something else for support, whereas interdependence seemed to give me more of a role.  And while I do think we need to rely on one another, I realize my biggest problem is often letting myself need others, letting myself fully depend on my Creator, who doesn’t need me.  And also there are times when others may need me, but it may seem that is not a mutually dependent relationship–and I don’t depend on the Father to give me grace, energy and love in those times…instead I depend upon my own strength. 

There is a beautiful Zimbabwe saying, “I am because we are.” It is understand our individual identity is deeply rooted in community.  That we need each other.  Sometimes needing each other is awkward.  Sometimes it means that we must walk at an uncomfortably slow pace, take a route that doesn’t seem the most efficient—or even hold hands.  But as we learn what it means to walk with others, we often begin to see more of who we are truly called to be.

So this year, as I think of the word dependence for 2014, it’s a bit scary.  Because let’s face it, I don’t always like to need something beyond myself. Often I’m tempted to run ahead on my own. But I am reminded I am here today because of the many people who have walked with me, and because of a Father who always walks with me.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Cor. 12: 9