After weeks of deliberations, after I finally decided that I was staying home, after more long discussions, after agonizing over his choices, finally, we have made the firm decision that we are not going on the mission trip to Honduras this year.
It was one of the more tougher things we have ever negotiated through as a couple.
Several years ago Bruce went to Costa Rica on a mission trip and I stayed behind. I didn't feel compelled to go but oh, the awfulness of that moment when we had to say goodbye! I watched Bruce get on the airport shuttle bus and my heart felt like it was breaking in two. He looked positively ill as he boarded the bus and all we could do was smile bravely and figure out a way to get through the next 2 weeks apart.
And God was faithful. It was lonely here at home but I was working and keeping busy. When I wasn't at work, I soaked up sunshine and read a lot of books and took long walks by the river. And Bruce was able to email me a few times and I could tell from his letters that he was truly having the time of his life, despite me not being there.
Upon his return though, our reunion sweet and glorious, we looked at each other and said 'never again!' We were firm; we would either go together or not go.
And so last year we went to Macedonia together and it was a special time for each of us, separately and as a couple. When the opportunity for the trip to Honduras came about this year we started out thinking this was for us. As the days went by, however, I was feeling less and less positive about being called at this particular moment in time. We know Chad and Trina and are excited about the work they are doing in their ministry in Tegucigalpa. And the trip was being led by our dear friends Terry and Alexandra. So the tug to go was strong... and yet... the sense I kept getting was 'not now'.
Unfortunately, my dear husband was not getting this message at all. Now, here's the thing. Bruce is ready to go, anywhere, anytime. He loves-- thrives --in these kinds of environments. Me... not so much. And so, even though we had made a promise to stay together, I finally had to say "I can't". I went on to even say I released him from the promise because I did not want to have him resent me at some point for holding him back. Soon after this however, I began sensing that he needed to really 'hear my heart' and know all the thoughts and feelings I was struggling with.
I started by outlining all my concerns, the practical reasons for not going, the limitations I felt about this mission trip at this point in time. I realized that if I decided to go now it would only be because I did not want to be left behind and that to me just did not seem like the right reason to go. We are talking a good chunk of change that others would be giving in sacrificial ways to enable us to go. I knew I would not feel good about using those funds unless my reason for going was pure and selfless.
So now Bruce was struggling. He wanted to keep the promise we had made but he didn't want to let the other guys from the mission team down. He was certainly conflicted and torn over this and it was for about 2 weeks from when I made my decision that he struggled. My poor sweet husband. He is a people pleaser and he knew whatever he decided it was going to affect somebody in a not so positive way.
We talked endlessly. We looked at it from every angle. We listed pro's and con's. Finally I said "You know how I feel about this. My decision has been made and I have released you from the promise. You are the head of this household and our spiritual leader. I submit to whatever choice you make and will honor your decision whatever it may be."
(I want you to know it was a lot harder to say that then it was to write it!! Being completely honest here!!! submission is not my strong suit, lol!!)
Bruce for his part told me how much he respects and appreciates, values and trusts my intuition on things. He gets going gung-ho on things and can sometimes miss the clues along the way that offer caution. So he was taking seriously my strong sense that this just was not the right time. (Despite his nature in thinking that anytime is the right time)
So, yesterday morning, 2 days after deadline, he made his decision. He is staying home.
We think there is a lesson to be learned in all of this. We don't understand it all right now but part of it is this: Bruce feels called and compelled to be involved with mission and ministry. My calling is less passionate and my comfort level dictates to certain things. We realize we either need to be praying for Bruce to be more flexible about where 'we' go and what 'we' do, if it is going to include both of us, or we should be praying that God will do a work in me that changes me into someone more flexible for challenging situations. Or, that God gives each of us the courage and grace to face some of these things separately.
All worthy prayers.