Ok, so here is part 2 of my 'reflections on my time in Chad so far'.....
Evie was 10 weeks old when we hopped on a plane and headed back to Chad (October 2014). It really is a bit of a blur but I do remember enjoying thanksgiving with our families just days before our return flight and thinking....I'm really gonna miss this. Goodbye hugs, tears and 'see you soon's' and then we were off, back to the place that I really didn't like.
I had one major fear as I flew back to Chad: Would it be exactly like the first year? Fraught with health problems? A daily struggle just to 'be'? Several close friends and family knew this was a major deal to me going back and I knew they had been and would continue to pray for me in this transition...and I had given that fear to God, and replaced it with hope. Hope that things were going to be way different this time around. Hope that my health wouldn't be an issue. Hope that I would be able to speak with more ease in french. Hope that I would thrive and not just survive.
It has been 1.5 years since returning to Chad, and I am happy to report that it WAS different! There were still struggles and frustrations but they didn't play the main role in my daily life anymore. There were more normal times, happy times, contented times than not. I am so thankful for that, and God's blessing in that way. It has made a world of difference here in Chad.
Leaving that difficult year behind me and pressing on into my second year in Chad, God continued to teach me important life lessons. This year, the theme that stuck out quite clearly to me in what I read, talked about, heard from others was the idea of abiding in Him. I began to realize more than ever that anything good that ever comes out of me, is because of God.
We were talking about this topic at our ladies group one day and someone shared her struggle of feeling useless, and lost here in Chad. She began questioning why God had brought her to Chad as she couldn't speak french, she didn't have any kind of ministry herself and she just felt like 'what was the point'? And then the Lord spoke the verse " I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains (abides) in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing."
She then realized that her job was to remain in Him. Abide. That it wasn't about what she could do for God, and that there wasn't this checklist of things that if she did them she would be exactly what God wanted her to be....nope....she just needed to abide. Stay close. Fill herself with Him and his words. He loved her just for who she is. Not what she did or does. So often missionaries get so caught up in this checklist of being a "good missionary"...and they forget to actually abide in Him. Remember that part about 'apart from me, you can do nothing?" yup. Without remaining/abiding close to God, spending time with Him, filling your hearts and minds up with His words.....the 'work' we do is empty and lacking in joy. The deep joy that is not dependent on your situation, but one that remains no matter what happens.
I really connected with what she was saying and realized that I had been putting these pressures on myself to have a ministry outside the home. A good thing to strive for but for me, it was leaving me dissatisfied and frustrated as a homemaker. I realized that I had to realign my vision, my purpose, and my daily role to first and foremost, abide in Him. Stop trying to do things on my own and in my own timing and start inviting God into all aspects of my days.
My mindset slowly started to change and instead of focusing on what I wasn't doing (that I thought I should be doing), I started doing what I know God has called me to do at this point in my life (being a mom and wife) and also began to be more intentional about abiding.
What does that look like for me exactly? Well, I didn't all of a sudden become this holier than thou spiritual mother and wife....no, it was more in the little things, like being more intentional about reading the Word, posting important verses around the kitchen to be reminded throughout the days and to refocus my mind on the things that really mattered. It meant turning my negative, complainy attitude into thankfulness. It meant asking for and striving for the fruits of the spirit to be evident in the way I interacted with my husband and kids. It meant pouring my heart and soul into the life that God called me to, here in Chad. But not doing it in my own strength, but in God's strength. It meant living my life with God as my number 1. Letting Him into every aspect of my day....my thoughts (that they would be pleasing to Him), my work (that I would serve with joy), my interactions with others (that I would show His love), and my words (that they would build up and not tear down). Staying close to Him in all that I do, say and think, letting Him fill me with Him. That is what abiding has meant to me.
I still have a looooooong ways to go and God is still teaching me that I need to have Him in all parts of my life and days....some days are great and others a miserable failure. But change doesn't happen overnight right? Let's just say that Chad is literally a 'refining fire' and I'm thankful that 'He who has begun a great work in me will one day bring it to completion'.