Should we stay or should we go? When 2020 started, this wasn’t even a question. Of course we would go! We visit our hometown every year for a few weeks. It’s a time to be refreshed, stock up on much needed items, and connect with friends, family, and supporters.
When our host country started to shut down, the questions changed, “Should we stay put until our scheduled trip, or do we leave while we can? Surely this will all be over by July, right?” In that moment we decided to stay, having no idea how long “staying” would be.
With canceled tickets, closed borders, and the new school year quickly approaching, we finally accepted that staying through the summers could be our new normal. Yearly, short trips home may be off the table. We braced ourselves for the very real possibility of staying for years before getting the chance to leave again. Plus, our island was covid-free! We had safety in staying.
Then we pulled out our passport for our yearly residency applications. A quick flip open of our daughters passport and suddenly all the questions came flooding back. It was going to expire in 2021. We would not be able to apply for residency the following year, and she wouldn’t be able to travel off the island without quite a lot of difficulty.
“Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know”
The lyrics to this song by The Clash had already been in my head since I heard the Velvet Ashes theme for last week and this week. What a perfect summary of my feelings! “Should I stay or should I go now?” I thought I would have been excited to go. And in many ways I was. We haven’t seen most of our family in almost two years. We have been running out of so many things that we usually buy on our trips each year. We hadn’t had Chick-fil-a since 2019! (You know, the important things.) However, what I felt most was anxiety.
“If I go there will be trouble.” We have been living on a COVID-free, Caribbean island. We could gather, eat out, go to the movies, play with friends at the beach, all while having very little concern of catching this crazy virus. We would wear our masks and wash our hands, but we would move about relatively care-free. Did we really want to go somewhere with new cases daily? Did we want to take such a risk?
Then there is the church we run, the recovery program we run, our animals that will stay behind, and our friends and life that we are saying goodbye to for a couple of months. Going means staying with family in guest rooms and basements, balancing time between everyone we love, no routine, and lots of time on-the-go. Stress doesn’t adequately describe how I felt as we tried to get every detail covered and worked out.
“If I stay there will be double.” If we don’t go, our daughter’s legal status in this country would be put at risk. They could decide not to renew any of our residencies because of it. We could lose everything God has called us to here. If we don’t go, staying could cease to be an option at that point.
“So come on and let me know.” My prayer I was bringing to God echoed this line the most. I don’t like feeling backed into corners. I really like being in control. I know, I know! This overseas life is just not cut that way. I mean, is any part of life really in my control anyway?
We have no embassy here in this country. The regional embassy is on another island, with a two-week quarantine and expensive connecting tickets. They also aren’t taking regular appointments. After looking at the time and expensive, we started to realize that our best option was to fly back to our passport country and take care of everything there.
As July, 2021 quickly approached, and things began to fall into place, my excitement grew and my anxiety level dipped. I began to feel like this trip was actually a good idea! I started making plans to see people and schedule out our time away. Just as I was getting comfortable, the news came in – the first cases of covid in our community had been detected. After 18 months of a global pandemic, the virus had finally made its way beyond our quarantine hotels. I could feel my dreams of family time, Target runs, and chicken nuggets slipping away.
What if they closed the boarders? What if we catch COVID and can’t fly? What if we are forced to stay, again, indefinitely? What if we get stuck off the island and can’t come home? Should we plan to stay, or should we still go?
We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.
Proverbs 16:1 NLT
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
Proverbs 16:9 NLT
You can make many plans, but the Lord ’s purpose will prevail.
Proverbs 19:21 NLT
Right now, the tickets are still purchased. The plans to go are still in motion. Do we have all the answers? Not at all. But we know that, whatever happens, God’s plan will be the one that works out. So we choose to go! We will just have to trust God with all the rest.
Are there clashing emotions or questions in your heart? How are you handling home assignment/furlough in pandemic times?