a tale of two women

We’re in a gray room, sitting on the floor beside each other, our postures nearly identical, our knees pulled up to our chests.

Two women in pain.

She’s got her head buried in her arms, and she’s crying, no, sobbing, deep sobs that wrack her shoulders. My right elbow rests on my knees, and my chin is in my hand. I’m staring at the wall, frowning. And taking intermittent deep sighs.

Strange that we’re here together like this. A dream maybe? Not a nightmare exactly, but not especially unicorn-y either. The sadness is like a fog I can actually see and touch.

We’ve technically never met before, but I know her well. Her name?

Three-years-ago Me.

I know why she’s crying, and it annoys me the tiniest bit, but I put my arm around her and squeeze her shoulder anyway. I’m not completely heartless.

Well, that’s the dam-breaker. Without lifting her head, she pours out her woes. “Why did God tell us to move to Cambodia and then take it all away? Why are things getting worse and worse instead of better? Why is he dragging us further and further away from our dream? I don’t understand! It’s so unfair!”

I smooth her hair and pat her back. “Aw, hon, don’t be sad. You’ll get there. I know things are hard, but you don’t have to be so worked up about it, really. Just a couple years more–just a drop in the bucket when you think about it–and you’ll be in Cambodia. Right where God told you you’d be. It seems hard, sure, but God is so, so faithful, even when it seems like he’s doing nothing but letting all the bad stuff in. Trust him. You know what they say, trust isn’t really trust if you can see the future.”

I don’t know if my words have made any impact or not, but she stops sobbing at least.

I’m not finished.

“I know your troubles seem hard to you but, like I said, they all get resolved, and you’ll be on a plane to Cambodia before you know it. But, unfortunately, that’s when the real hard stuff kicks in. You’ll be asking yourself, ‘Why did God move us all the way to Cambodia just so we could be sad and depressed and longing for the community of family and Sanctuary and Abbey Lane? When will we know exactly what we’re doing here? Why have we watched more movies in 7 months than we watched in the last 10 years in America? Have we ruined our children for life? Why did it feel like we were more of a missionary family in Ohio than we are here in Cambodia?'”

My turn to drop my head to my arms and cry.

And then.

Three-years-ago Me looks up, takes a swipe at her eyes, turns to me, lifts up my chin, and stares into my soul. She waits a few long seconds, and then:

“Do you hear yourself?”


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