A thousand years ago, also known as July 3, I made a decision to travel to Sri Lanka as a blogger for World Vision.
I couldn’t believe I was doing it. It didn’t make any logical sense to me. I had been asked to join the team last minute, the week before. My immediate thought had been, “This is it. This is what I’m supposed to do with my life.” (Yes, a little dramatic. But so goes my brain, friends.)
My second thought was, “Of course I can’t do it.”
Of course, I couldn’t. To go I would have to leave my kids for a loooooong time. And I was already planning to leave my kids for a loooooong time when Chris and I travel at the end of September. The decision to go on the September trip had weighed heavily enough on my soul for months. (It still is.) I wasn’t taking that lightly. How could I pack up and leave them, twice?
I prayed, vaguely, about it. And I figured, for the sake of hearing some friends say, “Of course you shouldn’t!” I would call some.
I called Christina and Cat, who I knew would pray. I called Barb, who I knew would tell me to go. She’s Brooksie’s godmother and she has no fear. She said, “Maybe I could come down from Philly to stay with the boys!”
I called Nanette, who has been a daughter and wife and mom longer than I have. She’s my sage. I left her a message. Or maybe I sent her a text? I can’t remember.
Then, on July 1, I made a decision. It didn’t make sense. I wouldn’t go. I’d tell them what an amazing opportunity it was, how much I longed to go. I would say, Next time! Please remember me. I would tell God that if it weren’t for the leaving of my kids in September, I would do it. Ask me again! I would tell God.
So it was done, email sent. Decision accomplished. And the next morning I heard back from Nanette. She had woken up in the night at 4 am, sure she was supposed to pray for me. She felt she was to tell me that my decision should not be made out of fear.
Fear? I was making it out of practicality. I was making it on behalf of my kids and their tender mother-need. I was making it because that’s what you do when you’re a mom. You stay with your kids and you leave only when it’s justifiable.
But God had woken Nanette to pray for me. I trust her. I trust God speaking through her.
I felt heavy-laden. I went for a run in the heat of the day. 97 degrees and I was running, begging some understanding, some sense of direction. Fear? I asked God. Am I only saying no out of fear?
When God speaks to me it’s in his own God-way of communication. I think of it as a sixth sense. Nothing audible, nothing seen or heard. Only gut-pierced. My chest gets inner-swollen or wrung or ironed hot. And words come but they come slow like a bubble from the bottom of a lake, rising and rising until I can finally make them out.
God said, Are you afraid to leave your kids? (God speaks in Bold font.)
Of course I’m afraid to leave my kids. Are you crazy?
God said, Do you trust me with their lives?
I stopped running. How could God ask me this and expect me to keep running? When God takes your chest and swells it, then wrings it out, then irons it, you usually cry. I can’t cry and run at the same time.
God repeated himself: Do you trust me with their lives?
Partially, I said. Yes, I said. Sometimes, I said.
Trust me, God said. Micha, trust me. I love them.
* * *
I cried all the way home, walking my running route. (When you can only run a mile and a half, it doesn’t take long to walk home crying.) I said it again, those words that have changed my life over and over.
Yes, I’ll go. I surrender all, I always sang as a little girl during the Sunday night church invitation. All to Jesus I surrender.
I talked to Chris. He said, Let’s do this. We’ll make it work. My mother in law called that night. I had mentioned it to her in an email.
She said, I’ll come. I’ll stay with the boys.
I had my answer. I sent an email to World Vision to say, “Hey guys, remember how I wasn’t going to go? Ummmm, can you scratch that?”
That same day, my grandfather had a stroke.
The next day, we were in route to Amarillo, a trip already planned. I visited my grandfather in ICU that afternoon. My Meemaw was sitting beside him eating a ham sandwich. She was so small when Chris hugged her. Pawpaw was awake when I first came in, smiling at me but frustrated when he couldn’t get any words out but, “Well,” then a jumble of sounds.
I told Meemaw about Sri Lanka that afternoon. “Am I making a bad decision?” I asked her.
She said, “Micha, a mama should never feel guilty for leaving her kids as long as they’re staying with a grandma. Nothing’s as good for a kid as staying with a grandma.”
Meemaw always has an opinion. And this one was a good one. I tucked it in my brain for further contemplation. I made plans: Shot records, bought some long skirts, tried not to grind my teeth about the emotional trauma I was about to cause my children.
I trust you with their lives, Lord. I prayed.
One week later, Chris had gone back home. The boys and I were staying in Amarillo longer. And that’s when I got the call from my husband: The heavy news of our move. The weight of everything normal changing, again. The weight of life being packed and shipped.
I sat with it quiet for a day.
The next, Chris had already checked with our landlord. Our lease at our house is through September 1. We were going to move to San Francisco October 1. No, she said. No grace. No extra month. You’ll have to be out September 1.
That would be the day I’d arrive home from Sri Lanka.
That was it. I prayed: Now God? Now I stay home?
I emailed World Vision one more time. I said, “Change of plans.” I said more, actually. World Vision was the first I’d mentioned our move to anyone. I didn’t mention how the grandfather I loved was dying too. But I wanted to. Because, to me. It was all connected somehow. It was all about this question: Do you trust me, Micha?
* * *
What I want you to know is that, as the group leaves for Sri Lanka on Thursday and I pack and gather, make phone calls and prepare little boy hearts to leave their home, there will be a group of bloggers writing true things about children and need and God’s deep love for the impoverished of this world.
There will be a chance for all of us to respond, to answer the question God posed to me, Do you trust me with their lives?
Because we need to ask that question, not just our own kids’ lives, not simply our own flesh and blood, but the lives of God’s children who suffer poverty in this world.
Will you ask the question with me? Do we trust God with their lives? And what does the trusting require of us?
The trip leaves August 23. Let’s follow it. Let’s pray for the bloggers there. And let’s ask God what he has for us in this.