Trust More. Worry Less.

Ignorant and naive are two words that would fairly describe me as I packed my two suitcases in preparation for a semester abroad in Africa.

I was giddy, excited, and completely ignorant.

Oh, and I wasn’t even 21.

The biggest issues looming at the forefront of my mind were whether I should pack this framed picture or that one, and which shoes I should wear on the plane.

Very mature, I know.

After two months, I had fallen in love with the city and people of Cape Town, South Africa, and in the height of the honeymoon stage, decided to extend my study permit for another two years.  Soon after, I found myself in the beginning of a serious relationship with a (South African) man who would later become my husband.

That’s when reality hit.

I realized that if things moved forward as planned, I was making a serious commitment that would alter the course of my life forever.

And that’s when the grieving began.

I grieved in advance over things that hadn’t even happened yet — all of the birthdays, holidays, weddings and births I would miss if I chose to spend the rest of my life in a foreign country.

A couple of months later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was home for Christmas.

I had already committed to returning to South Africa, and I doubted my decision every single day.  I fell into a deep valley of neutral feelings toward God, which were compounded by waves of guilt for being a so-called cross-cultural worker for Jesus, when I really didn’t care about anything anymore.

Thankfully, the Lord lifted me out of my slump, but over the course of the next ten years, there would be countless times when I would ask Him to reveal the future to me.

I wanted to be able to see what was over the next hill, around the next corner.

I thought if I could just have a glimpse into what lie ahead, I would be able to better prepare myself.

I had grand plans to build a fortified wall around my heart and steel myself for any potential onslaught.

But He never said “yes” to that prayer.

In hindsight, what I wish I knew then, before moving overseas, is fairly simple, on paper.

Trust more.  Worry less.

Oh, I could go into specifics, like “prepare yourself for moments when you might break into tears in the middle of the grocery store because it’s all just too much.”  Or, “and while you’re at it, get ready to cry in the grocery store when you go home for furlough, too, because that will be altogether too much as well.”

I could talk about the phases and stages of cultural adjustment, both on the field and back in one’s home country.

But the bottom line of advice I would have for those preparing to go overseas is simply:

Trust more.  Worry less.

Easier said than done, I know.

There were numerous, no countless, times I doubted the grace of God.  I know it says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” but I honestly believed (and acted like) those words couldn’t possibly apply to me.

I can’t tell you how much easier things would’ve been if I’d just heeded Proverbs 3:5-6 — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

But while I was busy not trusting, I worried.  Finally, the Lord just kept bringing the same verse to me through various people, over and over and over again: “For who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Luke 12:25)

I see now that the reason God didn’t give me a glimpse into the future can be summed up in one word:

Mercy.

It was His mercy to keep me in the dark, so to speak, so His light could shine.  He only lit the next step in the path, so I was forced to take His hand and walk forward in faith, not in my own strength and pride.  First of all, if I had known what loomed on the horizon, I probably would’ve collapsed into a heap of tears, convinced I could never scale such ominous mountains.

And in reality, I couldn’t.  He did it.  It was only through the grace and strength of Christ that has caused me to stay standing today.

In hindsight, I can testify that His grace is sufficient, and He will make the paths straight for those who trust in Him.

Trust more.  Worry less.  When the sun is shining, and when the clouds threaten a coming storm.  To God be the glory.

 

In what areas of your life are you needing to trust more and worry less?

Photo Credit: Khánh Hmoong via Compfight cc

7 Comments

  1. Beth July 31, 2014

    Lean not on your own understanding…what areas and I worried about? and needing to trust? to put it bluntly my youngest bonus son. He just turned 16 and it has been a waterloo of getting him where he needs to be. Since we will be full time in Nica in less than 2 years he is not happy about having to go with us. He doesn’t understand. He also is an aspergers kid. But what kid wants to go to another country? He will go with us for the first time in January for 10 days. I pray daily for his transition and acceptance. Some nights I worry. Some nights I sleep. And in God’s great mercy I am so glad that I cannot see the future. Thank you for sharing this hits home…

  2. Beth July 31, 2014

    From a different Beth 🙂
    “In hindsight, I can testify that His grace is sufficient, and He will make the paths straight for those who trust in Him.”

    And that is why we must keep on sharing testimony with one other. We are so fickle and so quick to worry. I am often quick to worry because I am quick to forget. God has not asked me to trust in something or someone who has not already proved Himself faithful. On the contrary … and so I must remember. I must testify of what is true. And gain strength and comfort in the testimony of what He has done in another’s life as well. Rejoicing with you at His faithfulness through the years!

  3. Nasreen Fynewever July 31, 2014

    How you teach us all. Trust more. Worry less. Sunshine and storms. Thank you.

  4. Kate July 31, 2014

    Thank you so much for this. It hit right at a time when I really needed. I’m so future minded which is great, but it gets in the way of me being able to trust that God has good things for me.  Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  5. ErinMP July 31, 2014

    Thank you, this hits me right where I am. The week before I left I felt the “forward grieving” and I feel less odd about that knowing I am not alone in this. 🙂

    Also, I haven’t cried in the supermarket yet…but I did start crying by the ATMs the other day. Yeah, check that off my overseas worker list.

    Thank you! Praying I can trust more and worry less!

    (P.S. SO awesome that’s how you met your husband! Did you give the whole story somewhere on this site?)

  6. Brittany August 1, 2014

    I’m 10 weeks pregnant and we have only been in the field for 10 months.  I’m struggling with worry over the fact that the healthcare situation here is less than ideal (my doctor is 4 hours away) and this pregnancy has been very different than my previous two completely uneventful pregnancies.  I’ve been spotting for a few days and worry that this baby won’t make it (I’ve had several friends back home lose babies the last couple of months).  We will be going back to the States to have the baby (YAY!) but it’s going to be an expensive trip and will take us away from language learning.  I’m worried that it will undo some of the adapting we’ve managed to accomplish.

    So…lots going on in my head and my heart right now.  I keep praying for that trust.  I keep reminding myself of the Truth found in God’s Word and trying to rest in Him.  You are right…easier said than done!  But it’s a day by day, moment by moment surrender.  I find that unless I am intentional about it each day, it’s easy to put God aside and succumb to worry!

  7. ErinMP August 3, 2014

    Praying for you and baby and husband right now Brittany.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.