This week I’ve been praying for my friends, The Carrolls, as the day approaches for them to send off their daughter’s family, the Brantlys, to Liberia. A few days ago Lisa posted a comment on Facebook that described herself as “conflicted” while counting down the days till departure.
Conflicted. That word has been stuck in my head since reading her post.
It took me back to our first early morning farewell in the New Orleans airport when we departed for Venezuela years ago.
Once we had our boarding passes in hand after methodically scooting our boxes through the roped maze up to the ticket counter, the whole family gathered for our final stop together—beignets.
We puffed the powdered sugar that coated our beignets and recounted all the fun activities of the past month. Gary watched the clock and gave the signal when it was time. The metal chairs screeched loudly as we awkwardly stood up around the tables that we had pushed together for our large family. Time for one more goodbye.
My mom was a hugger. She always started with the kids and would end up with the last hugs for Gary and me. I remember her smashing her warm wet cheek against mine and squeezing hard—that’s what huggers do, they squeeze hard.
I could feel her conflicted emotions in her goodbye hug every time we departed. When she squeezed me so hard I felt –
• how proud she was of who we had become and that she was happy to participate in our Venezuela mission by loving us over the distances.
• how sad she was–sad that it was going to be a long time until we partied again (she loved an excuse for a party).
• how thankful she was for the great times we had just shared together.
• her regret that they wouldn’t be more frequent.
Usually after her big long squeeze, Mom would pull back just enough to be right in my face and say, “I love you,” one more time with her hand patting me on the cheek. Then it was closed out with a final quick squeeze before the release.
We all parted ways with conflicting emotions weighing on our hearts. Was it possible to feel so excited and so sad all at the same time?
Gary and I stuffed bags under the seat, fastened seat belts and tried to respect each other’s conflicted state of being while getting Travis arranged for the flight.
The first departure began the beignet tradition. Each of the following trips we slid up more chairs to the beignet table as our family grew. And as our family grew, we added more conflicted emotions.
We finally made peace with the gambit of feelings and gave ourselves permission to live in a state of conflict for a while.
It’s been more than ten years since those farewells, but when I remember those occasions, I remember them with gratitude…
• thankful that God faithfully meets us in those conflicted moments and gives us peace. He understands my friend who described herself as “conflicted” because surely He felt conflicted on His journey with His Son who was on a mission.
• thankful for my parents who blessed us even as they navigated their own conflicted place. They joined us in our excitement and our sadness—it was a precious gift.
May God bless the parents of missionaries with peace, perseverance and joy of the unique journey as they bless their kids serving in missions.