I haven’t been blogging much recently. That’s pretty obvious when I look at the scarcity of posts over the last year. Although I could claim it is because I’m just too busy, the truth is I’ve often been able to blog even on the busiest days if I feel like it. No, the truth is much harder to admit. The truth is that I’ve been hiding.
I think this started about 3 years ago or so when we became missionaries. Always before I felt able to share the most vulnerable areas of my life. I can verify this by looking back at the posts I wrote in the months and years after Emma died. I poured out my heart to anyone who would listen (or read) my writing. These soul-baring posts were healing for me. I was able to process my complicated emotions, because as I organized my thoughts for others to see, it meant I was also organizing them in a way that allowed me to accept and understand them myself. And I was affirmed in this writing by those who found my vulnerability encouraging and valuable.
Through our support raising process I was still able to remain fairly vulnerable, though I’m sure I started evaluating my words on a different level since we were support raising. And then we got to Germany. And it was complicated. So much was not what we expected. So much was absolutely wonderful. So much was incredibly hard. So much we didn’t know how to share. So much we were scared to share. So much we felt like we legitimately could not share. So much changed for us daily that it was hard to know how and when to share the things we wanted to share. Suddenly I was censoring my words. There was an added element of responsibility for every blog post because many of the people who were reading those words were also contributing to our paycheck each month. This isn’t to say anything bad about our supporters. We were blessed with amazing supporters, and I’m not just saying that because some of them might be reading this blog. But no matter how supportive their supporters are, I believe every missionary struggles to find the balance between vulnerability and privacy in a life that is financially dependent on others. Perhaps I should have been more vulnerable and honest than I was, but I also know that we were not trained to handle those intricate details and we were learning on the job. So I’m sure we made mistakes. And that’s to be expected.
And then we came home. It was hard not to feel like “failed missionaries,” and sometimes we did feel like that. Because we hadn’t shared all the details of what we’d gone through and the things we’d learned, it was now hard to explain why we were making certain decisions. And we still really didn’t know what was next. My husband was dealing with depression, with feelings of failure, and with burnout. Life was complicated and hard, and yet we were discovering things about ourselves, about our beliefs and about our future that was really exciting. Yet, because a lot of it was tied up in a shift away from the faith of those that surrounded us, I was afraid that sharing those things, that being vulnerable, would lead to rejection. I was afraid that my thoughts would no longer be considered valuable by those who’ve supported me in the past. As long as I didn’t broach the subject I could live in denial that I was that much different than those around me. But eventually that stops working. Eventually I had to face the fact that hiding from those around me meant that I was also hiding from myself. I process well in writing. But by not writing, by avoiding processing in this way, I have begun to feel stale. My head is full of swirling emotions, thoughts, problems, and joys. And for a long time now I’ve felt lonely. Surrounded by people, I still feel like very few people really know me, who I am, how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking.
And so this blog is my attempt to start to share myself again. This is the beginning of an outpouring of my soul. I’ve decided to face the fear of rejection. I’ve decided to speak out and say what I believe. I’ve decided to share the complicated inner workings of my mind. At least to try. I’m sure there will still be things that I will choose not to share, and I give myself permission to make those decisions, but I want to share so much more than I have for the past two years. I want to share some of what we experienced in Germany, both good and bad. I want to share some of the processes that we went through that produced change in our lives and led to decisions for our future. I want to share the things that excite me about my life as it is now. I want you to know my goals, my dreams, my passions, my loves. I invite you to get to know me. You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t even have to read. I can understand if you don’t. I’ve been there, I know. My hope is that even while there may be those out there who choose to stop reading, there will be others who will find an echo of themselves in what I say and find encouragement in that. But even if there isn’t, I will still write, because the truth is that I find it valuable even if no one else does.