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  • Writer's pictureKristen Hepner

Still the Same

After working for 15 years as a cross-cultural minister, then returning to my home country as one lady put it “as a normal person”, the amount of disorientation and identity loss is monumental. I’ve been back in my home country for 22 months now. That’s almost two years. That’s not a small amount of time. And while the light switches that hang on the wall and the amount of water in the toilet no longer throw me off, I still find my soul spinning most days trying to make sense of life.

         There is the busyness. Maybe it existed overseas too, but not at the level that it clearly overwhelms here. From the moment I wake up, until I drag myself to bed, something is vying for my attention. Good things. Productive things. Mostly, not the best things. Just busy things. I must train my heart and soul to be still and rest. It’s not easy, but it IS doable. It takes discipline and intentionality, like most things in life.

         Then there is the fact that I am not being supported financially to talk to people about the goodness of Jesus or to build His church. This means that I work a job outside of ministry for now. Working takes time and it took a while to get used to the fact that this is now “who I am”.  But the thing I understand with that loss of identity is that I still talk to people about Jesus and work to build His church because no matter how I participate in supporting my family, I am a disciple of Jesus. Therefore, I am also a missionary of sorts, sharing His love and light with all those around me.

         One of the things I most looked forward to after years and years on the field was not missing our families so much. After all, if we came back, they would be just up the road. But they are busy and have their own lives. One thing I did not bank on at all was the hole in my heart from missing the family that we created over the past 15 years. The ones who were there to watch our kids be born and grow up. The ones who came to holidays and birthday parties and loved us with all of their hearts because we became a part of them. Gosh, I miss them. So very much.

         I could go on and on about the disorientating feeling of arriving in a familiar place that doesn’t feel the same. However, what I am trying to focus on these days is that Jesus is the same. He still has His hand on our family and is guiding us each day. It may be busy, but He still invites us to lie beside still waters. We may have to divide our time and work, but He loves every person that comes into our paths and has a plan for their lives. And the nagging feeling of missing loved ones is just a part of living in this world…and makes heaven that much more appealing.

         So while being called a “normal person” really hurt my feelings, the only thing that has changed is my earthly title and location. My Jesus, whom I follow and model my life after hasn’t changed and never will...and neither has the end of the story. This is just another chapter in the book of my life and I am here to make the best of it.

         I know that it’s easy to “remember when” and long for days past. I also know it can be exciting to daydream about what will be. Believe me, I do both, too often. However, I think we need to learn how to be present and to make the most of the day the Lord has given us. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so let’s seek Him in the present so we don’t miss where we fit into his plan right now.

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