Focus on the Good, Allow the Messy

Focus on the Good

My story is not every story. As a child of missionaries and now a missionary with my own kids, family in ministry is my daily thing.

Yet I don’t often dwell on the daily things, because they are just there. Having kids, having a job where we are in the public eye ALL THE TIME, moving where God moves us, and expecting my kids to happily comply with all that- it’s just our life.

As my kids are getting a little older (goodbye toddlerhood!), and starting to process things in their own messy way, I’ve done a little more thinking on the subject. How in the world did I handle living on 2 continents when I was 10?? How did my parents handle my emotions?

Most importantly, did I turn out OK?!?!?!?!

I’d like to think I’m a happy, well-adjusted adult. I have my moments, but if you ask me at random if I’ve enjoyed this cross-cultural, full-time ministry life, I would say YES. For a few reasons.

#1- God moved us and we obeyed.

I think that’s important. My soul is happy with that decision. You know, the soul- that inner part of our being that has beliefs and feelings and needs to be at peace or everything else suffers.

#2- My parents loved me and made sure I knew it.

Kids gotta know they are more important than ministry. If they don’t, things don’t always go well. It’s hard to communicate God’s love for us if they feel God places other people over family. My parents worked hard. They worked long hours. They were often physically and emotionally spent from taking care of other people and doing their job well. I loved how much others appreciated my parents for their service.

But I would have resented all that if they hadn’t loved us kids more. They were present for us. They were involved in our life. They took us on family vacations that were unforgettable. They made some really hard decisions that were in our best interest, like letting me go to boarding school because that’s what I wanted more than anything. It probably ripped their heart out a bit, but they did it for me. That’s evident love.

#3- They let me be messy.

If you know me, you probably think I’m talking about stuff. Unmade bed, laundry everywhere- that kind of thing. While that’s definitely true, it’s not the messy I’m talking about. Kids can’t process their emotions like adults can. I remember wanting to be NORMAL when I was 12. I had been living in Portugal for 2 years, and had just moved to Africa. We were in tiny transitionary housing, in a transitionary country. It had spiders. shudder. I got sick with mono. Not a great time for me. But more than all that, I was frustrated because my normal friends were leading normal lives in a normal town in Texas. I had messy emotions. And I remember long talks with my mom in the kitchen. She always had a chair in the kitchen, and I would sit and talk. And she would listen. And we would drink a fun drink of mixed juices and soda. No matter what country we were in, or what emotions I was feeling, we would talk and drink while she cooked. I probably would have benefitted from learning how to cook during those times.

As I raise my children in this cross-cultural, full-time ministry life, I want them to look back and remember the great experiences and life-changing adventures. And I want them to know that we loved them. And I want them to know they were and still are more important than ministry. And I want them to be free to be messy.


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