Since our boys left for Trinidad, many people have asked how I’m doing.
“Do you miss them?”
“Do you get any updates?”
“Is it hard?”
“How do you think they’re doing?”
“You’re braver than I am!”
Most of the time, people ask me in a good moment. I have been doing amazingly well with having them gone. Honestly, I feel like God has guarded my heart from missing them too much. I mean, I have my moments for sure, but I haven’t had any breakdowns or anything.
But this week, we’re at family camp. It’s one of my favorite places to be. No cooking, no cleaning…a perfect balance of time away from the kids, and time with the kids.
By day two (we’re on day four now), I felt like something was missing. I wasn’t getting the same euphoric high that I usually get while I’m here. Then, I was standing with my girls, one arm around each of their shoulders, and suddenly it hit me:
I miss my boys.
My heart sunk a little and I ached for them. I didn’t cry, though. I just felt…sad.
And then this morning, day four of camp, day 23 of the boys being gone, I cried.
It was about 6:15 am, I was running, and I had just burst through a forest of redwoods and ferns onto a bridge. I got to the bottom and turned around to head back up the hill to camp, and this long, open road stood in front of me:
I stopped for a minute, and each of my three boys’ faces flashed through my mind. It was almost as though the wind was knocked out of me. My eyes welled with tears and overflowed down my cheeks, and I silently cried out, “Lord, I miss them!” I felt like something was terribly wrong, like I shouldn’t be enjoying myself at family camp while my boys dug trenches, poured concrete, and fed underprivileged children in some far off land. A wave of guilt washed over me and I grieved the last 23 days without them, and the next 13 days still to come. And then a second flood of guilt poured over me, and I felt bad for feeling bad.
It’s only temporary. Suck it up, Shanti. Do you know how many parents would give anything to bring their child back? How many moms have had to bury a child, wishing it was just 13 days until they were reunited?
And then, through the barrage of incriminating accusations racing through my mind: God.
He said one phrase.
That is not from me.
Immediately, the overwhelming feelings of guilt, discouragement, questioning, and hurt dissipated and I stood on the bridge stunned that I had let that all in. Our God is not a God of condemnation and guilt, after all. He is, however, a God who grieves with me and personally feels my mother’s angst.
Suddenly, I felt His understanding.
My despairing heart didn’t vanish, but Jesus was swiftly standing by my side holding my hand, with his fingers interlocked with mine. He knows.
I miss my boys.
As a matter of fact, I’m afraid if someone were to ask me right now, “How are you doing?” I may just lose it.
But it’s ok. Sometimes obedience isn’t pretty. Sometimes it hurts and stretches and challenges and demands leaning into God. But honestly, there’s no other place I’d rather be than here in His arms. Because if I’m here, it means I’m right where I need to be.