A note of encouragement as we continue along in an uncertain, different season:
When I was 5, my family moved to Eastern Europe to a country that, at the time, had no grocery stores or restaurants, only occasional electricity and water. It was unstable, and everything was uncertain.
My first day of school was not normal. There wasn’t a school open yet that I could attend. I was homeschooled in our apartment (my parents are not teachers and have zero background homeschooling, FYI), and then halfway through the year, an international school opened up that I could attend. I had two other kids in my class. We had no car the first year…so, no playdates.
We ate out at the two newly opened restaurants twice the first year and got really sick. (TWO times eating out in a whole year. That’s a lot of cooking, y’all! Especially in a place with no grocery stores, frozen food, or curbside pickup).
Our “church” was my immediate family, gathering to read the Bible and sing songs in the living room. There was no programming, classes with my peers, or trained pastor. Years later, as “church” shifted into buildings at times, we met with others of different denominations to make up “church.” We sang some songs in English, some in other languages. My first communion was an outdoor service of a gathering of friends. We used a loaf of bread and orange Fanta. I can’t tell you how meaningful that day was for me.
Things changed a little as we lived there over four years, but life was far from what we were accustomed to before we moved. I didn’t see my cousins, aunts, or uncles for four years. I didn’t see my grandparents for two years, then saw them for a week, and then not again for two years. There was no FaceTime, Zoom, or cell phones. We didn’t even have a landline phone for the first three years. Even so, I’m close with my cousins, aunts, and uncles still today. When my grandparents passed away, I was close to each of them.
My school experience was a roller coaster of differences: I’ve done distance learning (high school correspondence courses for a year); attended a British public school; gone to a secular, international private school; been homeschooled for half a year and then switched mid-year; twice, I started in public school and then switched mid-year. One year, my siblings and I were each enrolled in completely different school systems (one parochial private, one public, and one secular international) all over town. Until I was in about 5th grade, I didn’t have regular play dates with friends or large classes (over 6 kids) with peers my own age.
But those 4+ years are some of my (and my family’s) most precious memories. I’m not socially awkward. I made it through college and law school and now share a great law practice with my dad. I married my high school sweetheart, and we have an amazing, strong-willed toddler. I have wonderful friends now, here and all over the world. I am close with my extended family, even though I didn’t get to see them for years on end. My parents are the most wonderful, amazing people, and I am so grateful they pulled us along on such an uncertain, wild adventure. Was it hard for my parents? Yes! Did they sometimes wonder if they messed us up for life? Haha, yes! (Spoiler alert: they didn’t.)
But in those 4+ years, I learned invaluable life lessons that instilled a deep faith within me. I learned that my parents were not in control; but that they followed the One who was. I learned that they could not perfectly provide for me, but they followed the One who could. I saw my parents experience burnout and learned it was ok to ask for help, because they followed the One who sustains and chose to acknowledge that they could not operate in their own strength. I learned that the world (even my family’s little world) did not revolve around my needs, wants, or preferences, and that it sometimes didn’t go according to plan. I learned that only God could truly provide for me, and that only God was in control. I learned that God can sustain and provide in ANY situation, though it may not look the way we planned. I learned that God was good, trustworthy, and faithful.
I’ve been reading Isaiah this month, and it has been encouraging to me in the season we’re all in. Isaiah shares with Israel a message about God on the eve of their deportation into exile. Their circumstances are about to be uncertain and probably unpleasant. Isaiah tells them that even through exile and uncertainty, God is still God–faithful, good, and worthy of trust. He urges the Israelites to build their stability around God, not their circumstances:
“The Lord is exalted, indeed, he lives in heaven; he fills Zion with justice and fairness. He is your constant source of stability; he abundantly provides safety and great wisdom; he gives all this to those who fear him.” (Isaiah 33:5-6, NET)
This season is different in a ton of ways! I never anticipated working from home full-time while also caring for a toddler full-time. But, this season shares some similarities with my experiences overseas, primarily uncertainty and lost expectations. As we walk in a very different season–take heart! God is good. God is faithful. He is a perfect provider, and He is worthy of your trust. He cares for you. Lean on Him, and let go of the semblance of control you have. Grieve your lost expectations with Him. He cares for you. Lean into His strength because this season is SO hard. Ask for His wisdom and help. He cares for you. He is your constant source of stability, even in this unstable season.
By Mary Margaret Croft. Mary Margaret is a follower of Jesus, lawyer, wife to a brilliant husband, and mom to a spirited, hilarious toddler. When there’s not a pandemic, she loves to travel, cook adventurous food, and spend time with friends.