Mission trips are life changing. I’ve heard countless stories as people returned, observing how the experience impacted not only their heart but also the way they think and interpret life.
Then I had the opportunity to experience it for myself last summer, joining a team from our church traveling to El Salvador with my husband, our daughter and oldest son. I signed up for the medical missions team, my husband and son, on the construction team, and our daughter on the evangelism team.
The time passing since our trip held an unanticipated job change, and we knew my husband would not be able to be a part of the team this year. Therefore, we counted our family out when it came time to sign-up for the 2017 team.
I didn’t give it a thought at all to the possibility of us not participating as a family.
Until, I had a power session with a dear friend of mine. We work together in the NICU, on opposite shifts, and we give it our best to meet consistently to pray for one another’s needs and agree together for unity in our unit.
During our get-together, my friend challenged me with the possibility of letting our teenage daughter go without us. I told her I just couldn’t do that. She proceeded, “Heather, I remember the first time I went on a mission’s trip without my parents. They were standing there at the gate [because remember, back then family could escort you all the way to boarding the plane].” She continued, “They really embarrassed me! They just stood there hugging me and crying! I totally get it now,” she said, “being a mom myself, I can only imagine how they felt.”
I’m sure you can predict the word that came next.
“But,” she said, “going on a mission’s trip each year kept me grounded in the Lord. It was like the therapeutic dose I needed to keep me strong in my walk with Him through those teenage years.”
I heard what she was saying. And it did resonate in my heart. But I couldn’t imagine letting my teenage daughter go without us. I told my friend I would pray about it.
When I told my husband about my time with my friend that day, he replied, “I don’t even need to pray about it. She’s going.”
However, we really didn’t want to be that dogmatic about it. So we shared the story with our daughter and asked her to pray about it.
Time continued to pass and despite repetitive church announcements regarding the trip, she hadn’t made mention of any intention to go.
Until the Children of the World choir came to our church. Brandon and I were not in service that day, so the kids had gone to church with my mom. Brooklyn called immediately following service and said, “I’m going to go to El Salvador.”
You’d think we’d be elated but I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Surprisingly, I heard myself calmly respond, “Okay.”
Even more, she had a determined desire to pay for the trip on her own. I could only think two words— Committed. Invested.
After my daughter shared with us that she would be going, I pretty much immediately met my anxiety with this thought: I could go with her. However, as quickly as the thought came to my mind I instantly knew that would be disobedient to the Lord.
Disobedient?! To go on a mission’s trip? I mean how could doing something good be disobedient to the Lord?!
Well, it’s disobedience when my desire compromises my need to trust God. It takes away my reliance on God and places it on myself. It takes Him out of the driver’s seat and puts me in. That is disobedience.
I knew immediately that this opportunity for Brooklyn was not only an opportunity for her to walk in obedience to the Lord, being away from the security and comfort of her family, but also an opportunity for me to walk in obedience to the Lord to trust Him in letting her go without us.
So what do ya do with that?!
I prayed and prayed and prayed asking for the Lord to help me trust Him, to feel His peace about it all. One day I was at home, all the kids were at school and the house was completely quiet. I wasn’t even praying at the moment, but I walked into Brooklyn’s room to put some clothes away and I felt the Lord speak this to my heart—“Heather, Brooklyn has been farther away from you in your own home than she will be in El Salvador.”
I sat down and cried. It was so true. It’s been the crummiest last couple years of parenting! And God wants Brooklyn. He wants her completely and consistently.
That reality became even more evident the closer we got to the trip.
Brandon and I repeatedly explain to our children that sin is ugly and difficult, and if there is sin in our home it will eventually show itself, and when it does, it has to be dealt with.
God is faithful to reveal that which is hidden. But oh, how difficult it is. How ugly it can be.
Brooklyn has been in a cycle Paul knew well and wrote about in Romans 7:14-20. Despite the struggle, she was going on this mission’s trip. Without us.
We’ve hardly spoken the last three weeks. The pain of this battle is excruciating to my mama heart and I quite frequently desire to uncover a secret passage of escape. Wouldn’t that be nice?!
When we took her to the church yesterday morning at 3:45 a.m. I imagined myself giving her the boot with a good-riddance disposition. [May seem harsh but this blog is about real-living, and in this case, real-challenges in parenting teens].
But that’s not what happened.
As everyone began to load-up, she hugged her Dad, and then hugged me. She began to weep. I interpreted many things from her tears. And suddenly I realized that this was why I could not go. Where she needs to be in her walk with the Lord, she has to go without us. My friend Jayne said it best when she wrote, “God does not have grandchildren. He only has children.” Our children have to choose Him, choose to walk with Him, choose to honor Him on their own, without us.
Holding my daughter tight, the emotion of the moment and the realization hit me. Matthew 16:25 was rolling through my heart and in my head. It says, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.”
What I heard was, “If you try to hang on to your daughter, you will lose her. But if you give her up for My sake, you will save her.”
I’m resting this week. Resting in letting go. Resting in my confident hope. Resting in trust. Resting in faith of what is now, is not what will be. Resting in the plans and purposes already set in motion. Resting in a testimony in the making. Resting in the beautiful life of an independent relationship with Jesus. Resting in knowing He alone is able, without us, God is able.
Will you please intercede for our daughter Brooklyn and the team she is with this week? May the Lord work in and through them as they serve the people of El Salvador. May each heart, from those serving to those being served, be transformed by the hand of God.
I pray this post spoke to you.
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