It was almost like a regression to the beginning of the semester. There I sat in Spanish class, not talking to anyone, leaning against the wall, writing in my notebook, hoping no one would take the seat next to me, yet secretly praying someone would. I was in severe pain. When we had to work in groups later that night, I blamed my lack of enthusiasm on a migraine, which was true. I did have a migraine. But that pain wasn’t from any of its normal triggers. No, I had a migraine, a stomachache, and a broken heart. I literally didn’t think I’d make it through the class period. Yet there I sat, tracing his name on the envelope, wishing I could see him, and choking back tears.
What would provoke such an emotional, painful evening?
No, I don’t mean the lovey-dovey, googly-eyed stuff. Not at all. This is a love that a sister has for her brother. A love that comes from a separation that is long and tragic. A separation that says, “When will I see you again? When will I hear your voice or feel your hug?” Nothing is certain. This is the cry of a broken heart whose little brother lives in another country, speaks a different language, and spends his days in a completely different culture. All that girl’s heart wants to do is run to the brother, wrap him in a hug, and never, ever leave him again.
Let’s call this little brother Jaime to protect his identity. My precious Jaime lives in Mexico, and he had a birthday a month ago. I missed his birthday. All I could do was sit in my dorm room and sing with my roommates. He couldn’t hear my “happy birthday” or see how I longed to give him a big hug. Now, I’ve never spent a single birthday with this boy. Jaime lives in a Christian orphanage, and I didn’t meet him until he was 9 and a half. Why am I so broken about missing his birthday? I don’t know… except that Jaime is my querido hermano, my beloved brother. Have you ever missed a sibling’s birthday? Maybe it doesn’t bother you much, but family is extremely important to me. And to have never shared a birthday with my brother… well, it’s hard.
So what dredged up these emotions again Monday night? What reminded me of my deep love for mi hermano? See, my Spanish professor is awesome. I suggested to her that we might write to some of these Mexican orphans because the kids love to get mail. She took that suggestion and made it into a project for both Spanish classes. Most kids were assigned a child or teen to write to, but since this was “my project,” Profesora insisted that I pick which child I wrote to. Naturally, I sat down and wrote a note to my precious Jaime. Then I went to class, letter in hand. I read and re-read what I had written. I fixed mistakes, added a few sentences, and placed the card back in its envelope. Then I sat and waited for the class to start. I was blinking back tears. There on the table in front of me lay my only connection to my brother. It would take weeks to reach him. It would take longer to hear back. What could I do but cry? I missed him so much! My heart ached very literally. Other students filtered in, and class began. Several times during class, I found myself brushing tears off my cheeks and hoping Profesora wouldn’t call on me. If she had, I doubt she would have gotten an answer. My voice would have broken, and it’s likely that I would have run from the room in pain and embarrassment.
Somehow I made it through the class without anyone noticing (or at least without anyone commenting on) my agony. But when I reached my dorm, I had a surprise waiting for me. One of my roommates had conspired with a friend, and they had hidden near the front of my dorm, planning to startle me. It didn’t work. =P Their scariness is much less effective than their general silliness. I kind of laughed and headed into my room. By the time I reached my bed, I was a mess all over again. My friends noticed that something was wrong (I normally come back from Spanish class smiling from ear to ear and chattering a mile a minute in Spanish). I hadn’t spoken more than 5 words to either of them (in English or Spanish) and had just collapsed on my bed. I was pretty much a complete wreck. I started crying, which required explanation, which brought about more tears until I was exceedingly unhappy. I just wanted to be alone. Alone with my memories of Mexico. Alone with my anger and sorrow that I wasn’t there. Alone. Fortunately, my friends didn’t leave me alone. They let me talk it out and express my longing to be somewhere other than where God is currently calling me.
The next day, I was still pretty upset. God and I had a nice chat. And by that, I mean that I asked Him why I couldn’t be in Mexico. I demanded that He see it my way, that college be over soon, that I could see my hermanito this summer. I was anything but joyful. I was anything but patient or submissive or gentle or Christian-like. I wanted things my way. I was having an internal battle: my childish, selfish self pushed against the Holy Spirit, arguing that God couldn’t have it right this time, that my way had to be better, that Mexico was the thing for me right now.
That’s when God threw the truth in my face. I was doing homework and listening to music when David Crowder Band provided a bit of truth: God is my joy. The song was called “You are my Joy.” The chorus repeats “You are my joy / You are my joy / You are my joy / You are my joy.” That’s it. Just a constant reminder that God is my joy. He is enough. I don’t need Mexico or Jaime or anything or anyone other than God. He alone is more than enough to bring me more than the joy I need. I noted this and moved on with my homework… only to have the next song punch me in the face harder than the previous. Chris Tomlin’s voice filled my ears. The song was “I Will Follow You.” Great song. I’ve loved it for a long time. But the line that struck me this time was, well… not what I wanted to hear but everything I needed to hear. “Where you stay, I’ll stay.” I will stay at college for as long as He calls me hear. I will stay in the US until He says, “Move.” I will remain at my church unless He calls me to a new one. Basically, I will stay. I will abide. I will rest. God is enough. I need no other. I will follow Him if following means staying put. He alone is my joy, so I will follow Him wherever He leads, even if where He leads is right where I already am.