Neither Can I

Free Hands   You said it with sincerity and even a touch of awe.

“I could never do what you do.”

The thing is, my friend, neither can I.

I’m just me. A woman a couple of years from forty, doing my best to love my husband and raise our girls.

I didn’t plan to be a missionary. I didn’t even want to be. It’s just something I grew into, or maybe it grew into me.

But it’s certainly not a path I’ve chosen because I feel like I can handle it.

Late the other night, I stood in a good friend’s kitchen, and she held me steady while I cried hot and ragged. “I can’t,” I told her. The weight of all the responsibilities, all the goodbyes, all the unknowns spilled out into the safety of that moment, and I knew it. I knew it deep.

  I can’t.

It’s true. I’m not able to do what I have to do as a missionary, a wife, a mom.

I’m not up to this challenge, this tearing up of roots, this uncertain lurching forward into a very different future. I can’t handle sorting through memories, choosing what belongings to ship, what to store, and what to get rid of. I can’t process the looks on faces as we’re saying goodbye. I can’t be everything my husband needs. And, at this point, if I can keep my kids fed, clothed, and somewhat in their right minds, I consider it a major victory.

And that doesn’t even begin to include everything we’ll face when we’re actually living on the other side of the ocean.

I can’t. I can’t.

There’s some freedom in that, actually. I can’t, which means it’s not up to me. I’m not the source of my own ability to cope, or my ability to minister, or be a wife and mother. Now that I think of it, there’s a lot of freedom in that!

The one thing I can do is surrender. Daily, hourly, holding empty hands out to my Father, asking him to fill and fill again.

And he does fill me in little (but huge) ways. A text message from a friend who understands and welcomes my venting. A spontaneous hug from little arms. A few minutes to breathe. Exactly the right verses at the right time. Pictures of Papua New Guinea, reminders of the beauty and joy ahead of us. Grace upon grace upon grace from the One who takes my empty hands and draws me gently forward into this:

    “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13 NLT)

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