“…and they will call him Immanuel- which means, ‘God with us’” Matthew 1:23
It sneaks up on me in the quiet moments. It finds me on sleepless nights. It waits for me in holiday celebrations. These are the moments when loneliness abounds.
Sometimes I wonder why God first brought me to Ukraine. I wonder why it was my heart he decided to shatter and my plans he chose to change. My experience transformed me and broke me and made me feel slightly separated from those I know and love. Out of fear and insecurity, I’ve asked God to change his mind, let me forget, and choose someone else. And yet, two and a half years later the memories are still vivid, the ache remains, and my plans have clearly been altered.
In the process I’ve realized obedience does not ensure a mended heart. For as I’ve moved to the part of the world my heart was aching for, I’ve left behind the part of the world that has made me who I am. And so, no matter where I am, my heart aches for that place where I am not and I realize I am only understood to a point.
I’ve come to Russia and truly I do love it. I believe whole heartedly that this is where I’m supposed to be and I find joy in that. But some days I just want to feel normal again. I want to ride in a car or read a menu in English. I want to be with my friends or have someone smile at me on the street. I want to be understood. I wonder, if I'll ever feel known again. Will the longing and loneliness ever be completely filled? Why is it that I feel most alone when I am surrounded by the people I’ve come here to love? When will the aching stop?
Tonight as we read the story of Christ’s birth in our Bible study, I heard but one verse: ““…and they will call him Immanuel- which means, ‘God with us’” Why I suddenly feel weak and stricken with thoughts of home, I do not know. But for some reason, tonight just feels harder than most. So as my heart is aching and longing for those I love and miss, I will cling to Immanuel, for God has come to us. In our trials, He is with us. Through our fears, He is with us. In the midst of our questions and confusion, He is with us. When we feel alone and struggle to fit in, He is with us. When we long for just one person to understand and we come up empty, He is with us. Thank God, He is with us.