What Would You Tell Me?

When we woke up that morning, we had no idea that we would be making the decision to leave. We were a day away from moving down the street to a new house that wouldn’t flood during rainy season. I had yet to pack any boxes and found myself frozen in decision making. My husband sat next to me on the couch, listing the things that we needed to buy in order to move in.

“Ok, so I can go and buy us some beds once I know how much you want to spend and what you want.”

[silence]

“Danielle. We have a lot to do, so I’d like to get going on this.”

[silence]

I didn’t know how to respond. Actually, I knew how I wanted to respond, but it was so life changing and so radical, that I didn’t trust my response. You see, we were long-term people. We were in this for the long haul and there had never been much of a question about it. I had struggled for the last five years with our life in Cambodia, but I knew this was our calling, and I waited out the doubts and depression. There was no question that we were staying.

Upon our return from an eight-month furlough, we had made the decision to settle better—buy things for our house that were beautiful and well built. We purchased some beautiful furniture. I went to IKEA in Thailand and bought curtains and pillows and decorations. This was going to be our home and we wanted to invest in it. I felt that once my home felt beautiful and homey, that I would feel better. That I would feel at home.

But it hadn’t helped. A settled home did not make my heart settled at all. There was much deeper stuff happening that needed to be addressed, and it wouldn’t go away by ignoring it. As Vandenn asked me about things for our new house, I felt trapped. There was no way out—buying more things meant more things to stick us here. I didn’t want that. I wanted out. I saw no way out, though. I knew Vandenn would never make the decision to leave, and I had never wanted to be the one that said we should.

With Vandenn looking at me, I started crying. I spilled all these thoughts onto a stunned husband who was trying to come to grips with a wife who was spiraling downward. It was such a helpless feeling, wrought with guilt. Guilt that I was so weak. Guilt that my husband had been trying all these things to make life more livable in Cambodia. Guilt that after five years, I was still struggling so hard, that my dark days were becoming more frequent.

I looked at Vandenn and said, “If I were a regular teammate, just a regular teacher, what would you tell me? Rip away the country director’s wife hat–what would you say?”

“I would tell you to go home.”

We sat there under the weight of those words. Go home. What did that mean?

It meant having to find a new leader for our team. It meant telling teammates that we were done—teammates who had been with us through so much and expected us to stay. It meant telling close friends that we wouldn’t be walking this path with them overseas. It meant stunning everyone around us. It meant not seeing full fruition of all the relationships we had spent a decade building. It meant walking away into complete unknowns in the States. It meant turning our lives upside down.

We went to bed that night different people. Instead of making more plans to settle, we were making plans to leave. My husband asked if I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me, and I had to admit that it hadn’t. In some ways it was like a freight train had been barreling down at me, and instead of being crushed, I was now hanging on for dear life on the side of the train.

For some people, the decision to leave may be easy and laid out. I suspect that for many of us, though, it’s not so clear. For those of us whose lives have invested so much into this calling, it’s hard to picture life outside of it. It’s hard when our next steps aren’t clearly marked. The act of leaving takes as much faith as it did to come overseas and the decision can be laden with heaviness and doubt.

Even in the preparation to leave in the following months, we struggled with doubt. Great things were happening around us—why would we leave?

Only the insight of almost a year back in the States, has helped us to see why we needed to leave. There were things that we needed to work on individually and as a couple that the work in Cambodia had not made possible. Do we still hope to be back in Asia someday? Absolutely! But we are so thankful that even when it seemed like we couldn’t make the decision to leave, that God knew what we needed. And the decision to leave was the most God-honoring thing we could have done.

Where in your story have you needed more faith to leave or stay than you needed at the beginning of this adventure?

13 Comments

  1. Elizabeth May 21, 2015

    It was so wise of you to even think of this question, Danielle, and so brave of your husband to ask it of you, and then for you both to make a decision based off the truthful answer. Such a hard thing you both had to do. Treating people as individuals is so important — sometimes I wonder if it’s harder to treat ourselves as individuals than it is to treat other people that way!

    I’m glad you are seeing fruit from your decision, and I’m sure you will continue to see fruit in your lives. May you (and all of us, wherever we currently are on the going/staying/leaving spectrum) be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither,” that “sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

    Love you, and I love still being able to keep in touch through the internet <3

    1. Danielle Krouch May 21, 2015

      I think once we allowed ourselves to treat this situation like we would with s regular teammate, our decision was so clear. I think leadership can blind us and anchor us to a perceived necessity of our importance. Once we ripped that title away, we were able to see things for what they really were. Life-changing, actually.

  2. Brenda May 21, 2015

    The act of leaving takes as much faith as it did to come overseas and the decision can be laden with heaviness and doubt.

    These words are so true for me. For me coming overseas  was such an adventure and to be honest I’m not sure it required too much faith on my part. I was young, single and so excited; I have a photo taken 20 years ago this month at the departure hall of the airport in my home city, grinning like a Cheshire cat holding my boarding card. Twenty years later,  I now look in the mirror and see a worn, tired, greying middle aged woman/mother/wife, who dreads returning to her passport country !! But I just have to hang on and trust that the GOD who sent me here all those years ago, is still the same and HIS ways are perfect, even though I have trouble understanding them at times! So in less than two weeks I will get on that plane, no doubt heavy of heart, but knowing that HE goes before me. Thank you for your post today; it touched me.

    1. Danielle Krouch May 21, 2015

      He definitely does go before you! I was just out of college when I moved overseas and I clearly remember that excitement. Returning with a family was different! I realized I had never been a “true” adult in the States. I felt so out of my element. But God has guided us so tenderly through this past year.

  3. AJ May 21, 2015

    Danielle,

    Thank you for sharing your story of leaving. I love the question that your husband asked you. I have now been living overseas for ten years. Over the years, I have encouraged people to leave when they feel it is time or begin to get that stirring.  I have told them not to feel guilty, that each season of lives is meaningful whether short or long, and other advice that I do believe is true. But when it comes to really believing those things for myself it is much more difficult. I think that I plague myself with more guilt than I am ever meant to carry! I am currently leaving a job overseas after only three years in this country after serving seven in a different country before I can’t help feeling that I am only just getting started here. I feel like I spent so much time adjusting to my new home that I wasted my time here in many ways. But I believe that those are lies and that I need to be feeding my mind with truth especially the truth of His Word. I know that He has started a good work in you and a good work in me! He will continue to shape us and mold us and fashion us into His masterpieces for his glory whether at home or overseas. May He richly bless you with the joy of His presence and the awareness of his mighty love!
    Your sister,

    AJ

    1. Danielle Krouch May 21, 2015

      Thank you! Yes, what we can so clearly see for others is harder to apply for ourselves. I have to be reminded often that thoughts that lead to guilt and heaviness, are not from Him. He desires for us to walk in light and freedom, with no weight of guilt upon us.

  4. NT May 21, 2015

    I looked at Vandenn and said, “If I were a regular teammate, just a regular teacher, what would you tell me? Rip away the country director’s wife hat–what would you say?”

    The heat of the moment, the turmoil in one’s heart,  sometimes gives great perspective. In our fourth year in Asia we hit a huge stinking bump. All of the “supposed to” things weren’t happening. We were supposed to have a teaching contract, an apartment, a place to call home, a team, etc.  “Are we done? Is this the Lord telling us to leave? When does the fight end?” was the question we were trying to answer as we walked through our original placement city…

    We stayed for another 5 years. It was good. It was right. And the Lord gave us great favor in those years. We asked similar questions in our final year and it was clear we needed to leave. We mourn what we had but are looking for what He has for us here.

    1. Danielle Krouch May 21, 2015

      He is our tender shepherd even when things seem so unclear. Sometimes He has us stay another 5 years and other times He leads us to a new place. Thank you for the reminder of His continued presence.

  5. Anna May 21, 2015

    We’re facing a hard potential transition, and it does seem to take more faith “leaving” than coming.  Can’t talk about the details, but your blogpost was just what I needed this morning!

    1. Danielle Krouch May 21, 2015

      Praying to the One who knows all the details of your situation. May you feel His peace as you move forward.

  6. Monica F May 21, 2015

    This line really spoke to my heart:

    The act of leaving takes as much faith as it did to come overseas and the decision can be laden with heaviness and doubt.

    I dread saying goodbye to our home in East Asia… I know it’s the right move.  But my heart aches over it, and I am struggling with guilt for ‘abandoning’ our team mates.  Thank you for sharing your story.  It helps to know others have shared this difficult road.

     

  7. laura r May 22, 2015

     A settled home did not make my heart settled at all. There was much deeper stuff happening that needed to be addressed, and it wouldn’t go away by ignoring it

    These words are so good for me in this season – a season of settling.  We’ve lived in 5 cities in the past 6 years and I crave being settled.  These words remind me to make sure we are doing the hard work of settling holistically and well. To not ignore the deeper stuff.

    Thank you!

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