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  • Kerstin Lindquist

My Work In Progress

Updated: Nov 30, 2023


There’s no way to explain it. It’s one of those experiences is life for which the English language doesn’t have the appropriate words. Like the love you feel when you meet your child for the first time, or how it feels to survive a plane crash. Common adjectives just won’t do.


Nearly two months after being home from working as missionaries in Mexico I still don’t know what to say when people ask; “How was your trip?”


In fact, just the word trip makes my skin crawl.

It was so much more.


I’ve resorted to “life changing.” And if one remains to hear more, I explain how we went there to serve others but were given much more than we gave. I want to be able to color the picture as dazzlingly as it feels so others can grasp the magnitude of what happened down there, but it’s impossible to cover it in a common seventy-five second human greeting.





The follow up question is always, “Are you adjusted to being back?”


While our family is back into the groove of school, work, and little fires everywhere, I still don’t feel settled back in.





But, I’m beginning to think that’s not a result of getting into the grove, as much as it’s part of having been forever changed since realizing this half a decades goal of taking three months off to serve.


What’s missing back at home is the closeness I felt to our Lord when I was living a life focused on others instead of myself.


There is still overwhelming gratitude for my life as it is now, but I’m also restless, insatiable, and at times distraught.


My day doesn’t start or end without time with my Lord, and thus I’ve always felt I’ve done a pretty good job of making faith fundamental. Prayer is first in every situation even those as mundane as a misplaced set of keys. My family, schedule, work, life, it all revolves around my faith. Yet, while living a life dedicated to service for those three months, it’s as if my walk with the Lord went from greyscale to neon.


And I miss the vibrancy of the colors.




I miss how much closer I felt to the Lord when there was little more than Him and my family surrounding me.


There is the realization that three months is longer than a vacation but not quite long enough to really go through all the seasons of adjustment. It wasn’t quite yet “real life.” Despite the hardships of living with less we were still in a honeymoon phase. Going back, moving, being missionaries full time would be different, and it’s not what I feel called to do for such a time as this.


This is where I belong.


But that means figuring out why God has me so restless. How I can get closer to Him, while the world is still in the way.


Here’s what’s changed, how I’m working on it, and what I tell those few people who linger to really hear what happened in Mexico.


I’ve learned to live with less fear, and when it creeps in, I fight back.

Fear is often caused by holding on to something or someone for your happiness. The fear of someone dying comes from your emotional attachment to them. The fear of losing your job comes from your attachment to the money or status you feel. Any common fear you have can be boiled down much the same.


When you have lived with less like we did; said goodbye to all the stuff, the house, the paycheck even the dog, and then realized that you are happier than you were with it all, the fear diminishes.





My big fear has always been providing for my family. Which is why the months leading up to the mission trip was uncomfortable for me.


If I go through the steps and boil it down, it looks like this.


I must work hard and provide.

Why is that important?

So, my family has what they want.

Why is that important?

So, they are happy.

Why is that important?

Because then they will love me.

Why is that important?

Then I will be happy and full

Why?

Because my deepest fear is lack of love.


In Mexico, I wasn’t able provide for my family. Not giving the kids everything, they asked for and wanted allowed us to rely on God for that love instead of the world.


No stuff.

No things.

No person can fill you like He will.

When you take it all away, God will fully fill in.


I have a new inability to accept stress.


All the stuff to manage, places to be, expectations to live up to lead to a more stressful life. When you take that away, there is a marked absence of stress.


With less stress you sleep better, you’re healthier, your brain is clearer, your relationships are stronger, you are overall happier. I felt all of this in Mexico. Now that we’re back, it’s all falling apart. The sleep, relationships, joy. And so, I’m refusing to organize my life in a way that allows that stress back in.


I’m working my buns off to keep stress down.

(Which is kind of contradictory.)


But one thing that is working is keeping a Sabbath day. One day a week with no appointments, no social media, nothing scheduled. It opens me up to see where the Lord wants me to be, not where I think I need to be. Its not easy. The kids will want sports and you will be tempted to answer a work email or schedule a checkup, but its worth it. Today is my Sabbath and He led me to my computer and to writing to you. Which leads me to….


I’m more content with serving just one.





The biggest change when it comes to how I continue to serve is putting all the focus on not reaching the masses but connecting with just one. These days, I have more coffee dates and walks with one person. I stay in conversations a little longer and let the single object of my attention really communicate what’s going on with them instead of rushing to post a bible verse on social media in an attempt to reach thousands. My ministry is slower, more personal, and exactly what God needs from me. The bible calls us to tell others the Good News. But it never says you must reach them all.


One is all it takes.

God wants every single sheep.


Some of the other things I tried to bring back with me are slowly falling away. There haven’t been many afternoons walks with my husband. We’ve slowly increased the amount of shopping I vowed we wouldn’t do. We didn’t get our cable back, but we are watching more streaming. And while I am in much less of a hurry thanks to the 15-minute rule I have stuck to, I do feel the pressure to move fast creeping in.


Maybe that’s the restlessness I feel. A bit of judgment of myself for not sticking completely with a new way of life I vowed to preserve before I crossed back over the U.S. land border two months ago.


But, one thing remains, and always will.


I will give myself grace.


And so should you.


You many never fully adjust from a life changing event you have been through. I know I likely won’t. I’ll be continually modifying my life because of what we experienced going to Siloe.

This is the truth for all the monumental occurrences in life.


The birth of a child changes you.

The loss of a child changes you.

Marriage, divorce, illness, addiction, forgiveness, healing, being born again, a once in a lifetime trip, it all changes you.


You are a beautiful collection of the colors painted through the experiences in your life. Ask God to help you see the beauty in all you've lived through and give you grace to accept that the picture of our life will always be a work in progress.




 


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