As I close in on the home stretch of my time here in Mexico, it’s starting to feel like the time has just flown by. I’ve got just a little over two weeks left here, so it’s surprising to me that I’ve gotten this far. To say that time is flying would be no lie, but it would also help me forget just how difficult this was for me when I first arrived here. And while I am so grateful to God for the incredible hospitality and care I’ve received here, as well as for the wonders of technology that let me stay in touch with you all, my friends and family, there is one thing besides all that that has brought me this far:
Well, that might seem kind of obvious. But I’ll keep saying it as I’ve said it in my last couple of posts: I may be here to learn the language and the culture, on the surface, but deeper down, I’m convinced that God has brought me here to feel so out of place, and to feel lonely at times, all in order to fall more in deeply love with Him, to desire and need Him, to learn better how to trust that He has brought me here and will bring me right where He wants me to be. Whether I like it or not, ha!
So I share with you all something that Laura sent to me in those spiritually challenging first days of not being where I wanted to be, but knowing it was where I needed to be. And still need to be.
St. Francis de Sales wrote about the mortification, the deep spiritual longing and suffering of John the Baptist. Knowing he was searching for the Messiah, and having met Him face to face, John was called to stay in the desert and continue to long for Jesus, so that others might long for Him to. He could not follow the one he had sought:
“How truly mortified was John’s spirit! To be so near his Savior and not see him, to have him so close and not enjoy his presence! Is this not a completely detached spirit, detached even from God himself so as to do God’s will and to serve God, as it were to leave God for God, and not to cling to God, in order to love him better!”
I have pleaded with God in my prayer to let me go home. Maybe I could at least make it to 6 weeks and then run home. Knowing the whole time that God wants me here, and that I need to let His sometimes silent and mysterious ways grow in me. Constant prayer on these words of St. Francis has me missing those huge parts of the summer I so dearly love to spend with you all: Camp, Steubenville, even my own (30th!?) birthday. But for me, those are the things God has called me away from for now. To “leave God for God!” To be away from all the ways that I wanted to serve Him, so that somehow I could indeed grow closer, more deeply and profoundly in love with the One who has loved us into being, loved us into exactly the places we find ourselves at this very moment.
My time with you all has fed me spiritually, has brought me closer to God. So I’ve asked Him over and over: why are you taking me away from that!? And quietly, and patiently, more faithful to me than I have been to Him, He has been reminding me that I am where I need to be. And that can become a constant battle we have with God in prayer, as if we know better than He where we should be. I know some of you are facing very real battles with wondering why God has you where you’re at right now. Whether it be trying to figure out if college is going to work out this year, or screaming at God trying to figure out why life at home has to be such a struggle, maybe we can step back and see if those are the deserts God is calling us away to.
Like John the Baptist, maybe we are taken away from where our hearts long to be. And placed right where our hearts needs to be. I can’t wait to come back and somehow share all the secret, beautiful things God has been doing in my life here. But I get the feeling that will be in God’s time. Right when we need it most.