It’s been a little over a month since I last posted. I’ve had a month to process, a month to let America sink in, and a month to miss Romania. I’ve used many Romanian words, sung many Romanian songs, and even made a bit of Romanian food. I’ve spoken to my county’s WMU group, and I’ve given reports at different churches and told stories from my trip to anyone who has two ears attached to their head. I’ve read my Romanian Bible and prayed a couple of times in my choppy Romanian, but all of that has done nothing to bring back to me the people, the sights, the sounds, and the love that I saw in Romania. I am still more or less an emotional wreck, and if I find myself in just the right situation, I find it easy to weep or easy to laugh – all because of connections to events and people in Romania. If you’ve kept up with me, you know that I feel called to return one day, and you also know that I went by myself (with no Americans). Even though I expected my culture shock to be worse than I’ve experienced before, those two things combined to make it, at times, undeniably overwhelming.
I could bore you with stories about how hard it’s been to work inside a schedule. I could tell you how difficult it’s been for me to remember to say “Thank you” instead of “mulţumesc.” I could tell you about how many times I’ve just wanted to forget college and go back home so I can physically feel the hugs and kisses of family as often as I want without being looked at like a creeper. I could tell you lots of things, but that wouldn’t even come close to expressing the sadness and grief I feel at times. It’s not that I’m completely overwhelmed by those emotions; at times I am, but for the most part they crash and recede like waves.
I’ve told you before how much God taught me, not just spiritually, but physically as well, about the unity he desires for the Body of Christ here on earth – my brothers and sisters and me. Naturally, Satan attacked that when I returned home. I felt isolated physically (because people in the States don’t make a habit of kissing you on each cheek when they greet you), but also emotionally (because no one here shared my experiences and sorrows from Romania) and spiritually (because no one really understands what that Romanian communion felt like or the way that it thrilled my soul to sing a hymn in harmony in two different languages). I didn’t feel as surrounded by love in reality as I knew, at least mentally, that I was.
So many prayers for this tangible feeling of love have been answered. I cannot being to tell you the number of people who make and effort to hug me. The most amazing moment of answered prayer came, though, when I was reading an assignment for my British Literature class. We were reading Julian of Norwich, a mystic/anchoress who was given visions of Christ. While she sounds a bit crazy to some, her theology isn’t as wacky as it would seem at first glance. At one point she sees Jesus and observes
“that He is to us all thing that is good and comfortable to our help. He is our clothing that for love wrappeth us and windeth us, [envelopes and embraces] us and all becloses us, haangeth about us for tender love that He may never leave us.”
At the moment that I read this I almost broke down into tears. I know my Savior’s character. I have experienced Him enough to know that what Julian spoke was true. About a paragraph down from this observation, Julian imagines she holds all of the universe cupped her hand, no larger than a hazelnut. She says,
“I marvelled how it might last, for me thought it might suddenly have fallen to nought for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasteth and ever shall, for God loveth it; and so hath all thing being by the love of God.”
I was struck again by the love that is in and around us and that unavoidably holds us together. Without the love of God, none of the things I hold dear even have their being. Again, I knew this stuff mentally, but to see it so beautifully presented blew me away. That was my answer. I was embraced in the the arms of my dear Savior, and enveloped as far as I could see by His love. “And in the arms of my dear Savior/ Oh there are/ ten thousand charms”
One more thing I’ve been struggling with, that God gave me beautiful resolution in, was my restless and overwhelmed heart. America hits a body hard, and when you’ve been away for a month, sometimes it’s easy to forget how hard things get to balance. After I came back my heart and mind were in Romania, not here, as I began to deal with a schedule and deadlines and homework and ministry and two jobs. I allowed the waves of busyness to separate me from my Abba God. This Thursday at Bible study our leader talked about being overwhelmed, and she read Psalm 107:23-32 to us:
“Others went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the LORD,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunken men;
they were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.”
When we read that passage, I began to weep. I wept for sheer joy. The storm inside of me was stilled to a whisper as my Savior stretched out his hands over the chaos and said, “Peace, be still.” Though I had been at my wits’ end, where I literally had no wisdom left, the fear was broken. I knew that I lay in the palm of the Lord of the raging sea’s hand. I felt that I could rest peacefully and unafraid in my Father’s love, because no amount of earthquaking or wave rolling or wind buffeting was going to move Him. I pray that I continue to seek his face as I work through adjusting, but I also pray that you, no matter where you are in the States, no matter how long you’ve been here, and no matter how desensitized you’ve grown to the buffeting wind of busyness, that you would also cry out to the One who saves the overwhelmed and the One who loves and the One who calms the storm and guides us safely home.