Saturday, December 18, 2010

Where to Begin as it Ends?

I guess I also could have entitled this post "There and Back Again a Tale by Elizabeth Hall" but my adventure doesn't quite match up to all that parody would imply.

I'm sitting in my room in Switzerland awake earlier than I would like to be looking around at all my stuff. Some of my stuff is already packed in a box ready to be shipped while the rest of my stuff waits to be packed to fly home-for good. Right now I'm thinking about those magnets with all the different moods/emotions on them, which comes with a magnet frame so you can highlight your mood at any given time. I'm guessing these magnets are used to tell everyone else what your mood is, in case they can't decipher it for themselves. Well, just so you know, my emotional magnet is being drawn toward "confused".

When you come to the end of a season it is natural to evaluate what has gone before. This blog, therefore, will be a cummulative evaluation and debriefing of my time here in Switzerland. As I work through my emotions and try to figure out my intentions for coming here in the first place I hope that I can find some purpose in my time here. If I am not able to see it myself from my biased perspective, please feel free to point it out to me in the wisdom of God.

So let's start from the beginning. Maybe we should start from before the beginning. It is poetically appropriate that I applied for this job while I was recovering for mono and this job is ending with the return of that same mono. Mono, my perfect bookends. Oh the irony!

As I look back on the application process I realize that I entered into this job with far to much confidence and not enough self-evaluation. To be honest, I did realize that I would be fairly isolated in the village I would be working in, but at the time I welcomed the idea of isolation. When I first came to live in Mörigen the isolation was a friend and teacher, but later it turned on me and became a monster that threatened to consume me.

The isolation taught me to be dependent on my Maker for my joy, and it was a glorious time of spiritual growth and sanctification. God taught me how rampant pride was in my life, and how it had gone unchecked and even worshipped by myself for far to long. I am so thankful that God does not leave me to my sin, but loves me enough to refine me, and answer my prayers to become more like His Son.

The truth is: I don't think that isolation turned on me; I think I turned my back on isolation. Another sin I struggle with is not being satisfied with the eternal. I want something now that I can cling too; something tangible. So when things got harder, I stopped running to the only thing I know can truly satisfy, and ran instead to a sympathetic ear and like-minded people. I think this was the turning point. I started relying on people's opinion again instead of seeking the face of the one who knows all and comforts all. Thank God for his mercy!

After this I found temporal joy, but not eternal joy, and that was my undoing.

During my time here I have been reading, "Let the Nations Be Glad!" by John Piper. I also went through the book of Mark and am now going through Acts. The theme that has been highlighted for me in all these readings has been that of suffering. I felt like I was suffering. I was going through hardship, but I kept asking myself, "for what purpose?" I was not suffering for the Gospel or for the sake of the Name, but I realize now that I was suffering for the purpose of discipline.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

So, why am I coming home? Mostly I think it is because I begged God to come home, and because when I got sick I told God that if it was Mono that I would take that as a sign that he was sending me home. At first, I thought I was coming home because it was the easy thing to do. Now, however, I realize that while coming home will be easier in some respects, this season of trial and intensive sanctification is not yet over. I was convicted about how I handle my finances after listening to the podcast of the Village's most recent Culture and Theology, "Consumerism and Materialism". This sin struggle in particular will be the one highlighted as I return home broke and jobless, as my mother so poignantly pointed out the day I realized I was coming home for good. To be clear she pointed out my struggle with finances, not that I was broke and jobless, though that was mentioned also :) I normally would have railed against her criticism, but I am trying to learn to receive correction with humility, as I'm sure we all are.

This is all my emotional energy level will let me devulge at this moment, but there are still many layers that need to be peeled back and examined as I come home. I look forward to many long conversations with you all and covet your prayers in this season. I love you all so much and I'm excited to be home, but I also look forward to the final home that awaits all those who believe, whose Builder and Maker is God.


  1. I am glad that you are able to look back on this short season and see just how Dad used it to strengthen and grow you. Lifting you up as you finish packing up your earthly belongings and start your trip back home asking that you will receive the rest that you will need and the strength to carry on. Continue to use what you have learned these past three months, because it is a hard lesson to learn. Think about coming out here to teach for the summer.