My Life's Stories
Inspired by the testimonies of others and the invitation given to me a few weeks ago to share my own, I have created this space on my blog to share My Story. Here is the introduction and an invitation to read along as I share My Life's Stories to give a Testimony of God's Goodness. Along the way, I hope you will also be inspired and equipped to start recording your story.
Remembering is a fascinating endeavor, is it not?
What we remember, how we remember what we remember and which memories stick is something I can only believe God understands. Perhaps it is His greatest grace to allow some memories to become cataloged in long term memory and others to be left to the abyss of forgotten.
Today’s, My Story, tells of our going away to that one place that holds countless fond memories and connections to people I treasure. A place, if you asked, I would tell you I would return to if I could.
Because when I reminisce about this community, I see the milestones of my faith, marriage, and career, being set into place there. I see images of the birth or our family unit and the forming of our family purpose and vision. There I gained a visceral understanding that God is in ALL the world calling all nations to himself, an understanding that has helped me to always keep pressing on even today.
I left the America dream behind at the age of 23, one year into marriage, inexperienced in my career and ministry. My mind and heart were geared with the powerful contradictions of a young heart full of faith--naivety and confidence, carefreeness and belief, simplicity and vision.
I returned a very different woman. One perhaps I was a little less excited to be. I had gained a wealth of knowledge and training in ministry and education. However, what I learned about learning and encountering a diversity of experiences is it actually makes you realize how much you don’t know. This matured and wisened me, allowing me to understand that learning is a never-ending process of taking previous knowledge and adapting it to new information in ways that make the two work together.
And though learning all of these things is good and necessary, it took a bit of the naive confidence out of my sails, harnessed the carefreeness of my youth, and simplicity of vision became a little more concrete and complex. Maturity seemed to come at the cost of handing of my child-like faith.
Seven years in a community on the other side of the globe can change a lot of things. In fact, when we returned I was not sure I even knew the person who had left all those years before. I couldn’t remember much about her or her ways of viewing the world, God and the future. Try as I may, I couldn’t find the child-like faith that made her so brave before.
Another seven years have passed since our return to state-side living. I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about transitions, trusting God’s plans and adapting to God’s purposes no matter one’s location or vocation. I have come to rest in the reality that God’s going to always be making new things out of the old things because he is creative, faithful and good to me.
Yet, as much as I am settled into my purpose, vision and calling right where I am right now, I catch myself looking back in the rearview mirror feeling a bit of that loss again--wishing sometimes that I could go back in time to our first place, our first people, and our first mission. Cognitively I KNOW that even if my feet returned, I would not find what I am looking for in that mirror. But my mind still likes to wonder there from time to time.
And just like one cries years after she has lost a loved one, especially on the anniversary of that loss, I too find myself an emotional wreck every time June rolls around. It is in these weeks that my body, mind, and soul turn again to remembering the joy and excitement of going away on a mission.
Seemingly at random, memories of what was left behind in the place that made me a teacher, coach, pastor’s wife and mom arise to remind me of the thousands of firsts and the thousands of sevenths that happened there. And I stumble through my sadness and longing to be again in the place where 2,562 days of my life were invested into the mission of a school that to this day I esteem as one of the best educations a student can receive in the world.
It is hard to praise, write or find joy on these days. It is hard to see the blessings in the present when I am glancing back in the rearview mirror.
So hard that it has literally taken me three weeks to write this post. Every time I set my alarm to wake up to write, I shut it off, pull the covers over my head and say, “Tomorrow I will let myself feel all the feels and write all the things. For now, I am going to sleep.”
Today, I finally did it. I got up and I wrote and you are reading the words that came forth. And I wonder if any of them even make sense to you. I pray they do and that God uses them to help you be okay with the hard work of remembering and fighting for faith to praise Him in the day you are staring at right now.
Remembering is hard when it hurts. Especially when the hurt is birthed from missing the good times, the adventure, the simplicity of a time and a place long gone. I like to avoid such pain because I want to be happy about where I am and where I have been. But in order to get to that joy, I have to do the labor of letting myself miss the blessings of the past, journey next to seeing the blessings in the process of transitions, then continue on to praising God for the blessings in the present, and land at believing that the best blessings are yet to come.
A journey of this kind happens internally (in the heart, mind and soul) and slowly. For an avoider of feelings like myself, it has taken years. Actually, I think I am still walking toward truly praising God for the blessings in the present. It is an act of war, and most days I choose to fight for faith to believe in the goodness and perfection of the blessings at hand and the ones yet to come. Some days I win the battle, others I don’t.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only
Just as the men and women recorded in Hebrews 11 lived their entire lives based on faith in what was yet to come, I am called and equipped to do the same: To let faith be my guide, not my review mirror. To let faith focus my eyes forward. To believe that I am a stranger here able to live for what is coming, even if I die waiting for my eyes to see fully the promises my faith is built on.
Maybe you too find yourself in combat to get your childlike faith back. Maybe like me, you are on a journey toward processing and understanding all that God’s plans have led you away to and back from in the years of your life. Can I encourage you to begin recording your memories and progress along the way?
There is nothing that heals quite like setting words to experiences and allowing God to work through your fingertips to teach you about who he is, who you are and how the moments of your life are building you up to greater purposes because he has good plans for you. I pray you can create space in your life to allow God to bring back those memories you need to recall in order to live well, by faith, the part of the journey you are on right now.
Jaclyn is a wife, mom, educator, visionary, and avid runner who uses her writing to pick up and examine life, culture, faith and running, probing to discover the awe of God who is sovereign over it all. Join her on her journey at jaclynloween.com. She is a firm believer in the powerful, effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out theGreat Commission. Because we are stronger, healthier and lovelier when living on mission together, she desires to help others know their unique design and purpose for such a time as this.