As a Missionary coming from the mission field to the States on furlough will bring some pretty big changes, and in some cases changes that you aren’t comfortable with. One of my biggest uncomfortable changes was moving in with my parents while working on the paperwork for a Permanent Visa, and raising financial support. It isn’t that I am not grateful for mom and dad allowing me to stay here (it would be silly to furnish an apartment or house and leave in less than a year) but moving from a three bedroom house of my own to living with them was a drastic change (editors note: Let me make it clear that the house in Australia wasn’t nearly as nice as my parents home…and definitely not as clean).
The change didn’t involve my way of living (though there was an incident when my mother borrowed the car I was driving to find the gas gauge on E and the floorboard filled with empty Diet Dr. Thunder cans) but made it hard to be confident or courageous. As humans we often use our identity (what we have, don’t have) as a source of our confidence instead of the Relationship we have in Christ. This is one of Satan’s favorite tricks with me because it’s a bit hard to be confident when your living in your parents basement 🙂
The Lord is helping me focus on my purpose and calling (reaching a Non-Christian culture with the Gospel) as well my standing as a Christian as a source of strength, but there is still a part of me that want’s to be on my own. Thats why when mom and dad left last Tuesday for a week long vacation (I had to stay because of a Missions Conference) my mouth was saying “I will miss you guys” while my heart was celebrated being on my own for a week.
After experiencing independence for six days I am no longer celebrating, but looking forward to mom and dad coming back tomorrow night (editors note: I won’t run out of the house and throw my arms around them when they pull up because the neighbors might be watching.)
My independence week hasn’t been boring….I’ve actually been very busy with volunteering, visa paperwork, a missions conference, and preparing sermons for an upcoming teen retreat. However very little time is focused on a social life and just hanging out with friends, mostly because I am a lot older than my friends and don’t want to become that weird old guy who always tries too hard to act cool (I am not the weird old guy yet but you can never be too careful).
Lack of a social life is actually a pretty common problem with Missionaries because we can become so focused on ministry, the idea of just spending time with friends and having fun is overlooked. In extreme circumstances something like this could even be looked upon as wrong or being lazy! But overlooking connection with others ends up isolating us from fellowship that can refresh and encourage our hearts. They may not spend a week alone with two cats like me, but the results essentially the same.
My week of independence has reminded me in the midst of ministry and work it’s important to just spend time with friends, even if most of the conversation starts with the words “when I was a kid.” 🙂