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Finding Joy Even When Something Feels Missing

July 17, 2019 3 min read

This place is oddly quiet. 

I’ve grown used to the sound of fans, air con units, dogs barking halfway across town, birds chirping loudly by 5 AM. I’ve grown used to the sound of the water pump outside of my window, my neighbor’s incessant coughing and high pitched sneezes. I’ve grown used to the sounds of semis and motorbikes and trucks advertising local businesses through loud speakers.

Here—in the middle of nowhere Indiana—there is only the sound of the wind in the trees and the occasional bird chirping from its nest, and this quiet is a kind of unsettling that doesn’t quite make sense to me.

Call it culture shock. Call it transition. Call it being in a place that feels familiar and strange all at once. Call it moving from Mae Sot, Thailand back to Nappanee, Indiana—two completely and totally different places in this world. 

The words, “something is missing” feels like the very breath in and out of my lungs these days. It feels like the beating of my heart, the ever-present feeling in my bones. 

Something is missing. 

There are no dogs, no crazy birds, no water pump or neighbors with loud sneezes. No street dogs chase me on my run and no monks walk the streets in the morning. My bike sits in the basement—tires flat, rim dusty—as I get in my car to drive. English is all around me—spoken and written and shouted.

Something is missing, and it looks like, sounds like, smells like, feels like Mae Sot, Thailand. 

But that is the beauty and the struggle of transition—some things are missing, but other things are just about to unfold. It’s a dance that I find myself stumbling and fumbling my way through most of the time. These days, the Father keeps reminding me of those verses in Jeremiah 17.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

It’s been a theme in my world for the last six months, a battle cry, a message of preparation—as if the Father was whispering, “Love, let me take your roots deeper and deeper, because you will need this depth more than you know.”

On the days when something deeply, truly feels missing, I try to hold tightly to joy, because there’s a sacred kind of work happening. The roots of trust and confidence and faith dig deeper and deeper on those days. They keep me steady. They keep me grounded in the most beautiful ways.

I used to be scared of transition. I used to fight change, because there was nothing more unsettling to my spirit than that feeling that something is missing. 

But I’m learning—slowly—to celebrate the beauty of these seasons. Without them, things stay the same—we stay the same.

Without these seasons, I never would have gone to college or spent a summer working at HOPE International. I never would have gone to Thailand or been a part of Braverly.

Without these kinds of seasons, we stay stagnant, still, safe—completely comfortable and totally unfulfilled. Without these kind of seasons—when something feels missing, when change and transition are our ever-present companions—our roots stay shallow, and we remain unsteady. 

So may we celebrate change and transition. May we find joy even when something feels missing. May we anticipate these seasons, because they bring the opportunity for growth, for roots that grow deeper—not in a place or a job or a ministry or a person. They grow deeper in the Father. 

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