Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Prepare Your Heart

Kokoro no junnbi wo shitte kudasai - こころのじゅんびをしってください

I heard Kim, a college friend, use this phrase with her child. She said we don't really have an English equivalent, but it generally conveys the idea to, "prepare your heart".....and she used it to to tell her daughter it was nearing time to say goodbye. Google translates it as, "Please know the preparation of the heart." I have no surprising news to share...but I'm thinking.  Ryu, Kim's husband, says it is said before sharing shocking or surprising news.

The concept, if not the exact wording, has stuck with me. Prepare your heart. Three little words. Prepare your heart to hear from God. Prepare your heart to learn. Prepare your heart to worship. Prepare your heart to obey. Prepare your heart to surrender.  Prepare your heart for change. Prepare your heart to love. Prepare your heart to hear surprising/shocking news. In a year when God has graced us with Acts 2:17 as  a prayer verse - I'm preparing my heart to hear new dreams which may be surprising or shocking.

And I knew - there would come a day when we would need to prepare our hearts to say goodbye. We are now six months from leaving a country we love. I know we love EVERY assignment (well, we were split on one of those assignments but I love every location). This is different. Our roots have gone deep. As we walked out of the airport in Tokyo, I felt I was "home."  Apart from God, it is unlikely we will "visit" this childhood home of our children again.  We have lived through great happy adventures and incredibly traumatic, heart-breaking experiences while living in Japan. We have grown. We don't want to leave. I relate to the Catholic priest who said, "Bury my bones here..." and did in fact get his wish in 2011.

I've left other homes like this and not gone back - Liberia and the Philippines.

I know I have to prepare my heart and the hearts of my kids for this leave taking. It's bigger than moving from Montana to Texas. I'm just not sure how.

And so, confronted with deep thoughts, I did what I do...I tackled a project. I defrosted the freezer.

It's now a thing of beauty, milk crates full of meat, veggies, fruit, sauces and bread items...it will be helpful to start eating up our stock.

I'm no closer to knowing how to prepare my heart...but He impressed on us in 2013 to Live Courageously...and we will.

These few things I know from growing up as a Third Culture Kid and being a Third Culture Wife:

  • It is vital I stay close to God - my quiet time is a priority
  • I must carve margin in our schedule to visit the places we love
  • I must fully live these next few months with dear friends
  • I will not unplug until the very last day - this hurts - but the pain is a mark of having loved well....I will continue to mentor, continue to serve, continue to live and create connections and trust Him to be there when the pain of goodbyes arrive - as it will. 
  • I will find reasons every day to thank God for the gracious gift of this extra year in Japan. 

I would love to hear how those of you who have moved from here, or other overseas locations, prepared your heartsr how you wish you would have.

  •  What can I do to help this be an easier transition for the children? For us?  
  • How can we live the next six months fully engaged, while preparing our heart for the leave-taking that is surely approaching? 
  • Are there things you wish you had done or brought from Japan with you? 
  • Do you have any tips to share with us? 
My preparation partner

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...


Anonymous said...

SIS: Live every moment yet to come in Japan to the fullest. Enjoy every little thing. So glad you write down and record your life in Japan. What a blessing that is going to turn out to be. So glad Mike/You have ears tuned into what God is saying. THAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO FIND THAT MOVING IS EASIER. Really, it is only God who helps a person with this. AND of course keepsakes..... must be that is why our house is so full of STUFF! Dad/I are and will continue to pray for you all. love/prayers - mom t.

Anonymous said...

No advice from me. I will be praying for the Lord to encourage your heart during this time.
Laura J.

Renee said...

Other than our first assignment (2.5 yrs) we never stayed anywhere more than 2 yrs so there wasn't time to get so rooted in a community.... so I have advice other than to call on your Father

Scott Weaver said...

I enjoyed reading this today. What does "prepare your heart" really mean? I think our society tries so hard to avoid pain. If we just educate people, we can help remove pain from their lives. If we go to the doctor we can medicate our pain. If we have the right laws we can prevent pain. But in this life we will have pain and pain is an opportunity to experience God's grace in a new and intimate way.

"Prepare your heart" to me means opening your heart to allow God grace to address the pain. When my son, Daniel, died there were times when I had pain that I could do nothing about. I remember one day sitting in my car at the end of the driveway feeling a physical pain from missing Daniel so much. I could do nothing about it. I knew a lot about the grief process (educate), it wasn't something that I could really medicate (I guess I could if I wanted to live life as a zombie), and there was no way to prevent Daniel's death (heart failure due to a tumor in his heart - first symptom: sudden death). So there I sat in pain. I remember telling God, "I don't understand but I trust Your heart and I will rest in the pain."

It has been a long journey, but I look back and see the journey as a gift. Because there was no way I could get rid of the pain, I was forced to rely on God and open my heart to the pain, finding God's grace and a new intimacy that I don't think I would have apart from that journey. In our family, there would be times where the pain would be more evident. During those times we would not try to ignore the pain but would think back on the gifts God has given us while Daniel was with us.

I'm sorry for the morbid sharing. Your remedy of cleaning out the freezer is more light hearted. But I think this does apply to leaving a place you call home. "Prepare your heart" in your situation may mean spending time reflecting on the good, God given gifts of living in Japan - especially when your kids are hurting. Acknowledge the pain, helping your kids understand that we will have pain in this life, but God gives good gifts. Focus on those good gifts. Remembering is sometimes painful because you feel a sense of loss. But don't forsake remembering simply to keep pain away. It may be God's greatest gift.

Anonymous said...

No advice, I know what you mean. A part of my heart is in Japan as well, and I don't know that I will ever go there again.

If there is comfort, I think it lies in this: A part of Japan is also in you, and no-one can ever take that away.

I've been reminded of this in a delightful way in the past two days as my family has engaged in a virtual reminiscence party in our facebook group about the time we spent in Guatemala when I was a child. So many memories revisited. Fun memories, exciting memories, scary memories--but all a part of the fabric of who we are as individuals and as a family.

You will leave part of your hearts in Japan, and you will take part of Japan with you, and both will be enriched.


DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

Thanks, Scott for sharing - and everyone else. I think I was hoping someone would have some amazing piece of wisdom I've missed...but I agree with Scott - pain ushers us into new intimacy with Jesus...and that is good.

I don't want to gloss over the kids' pain....so we'll accept it and then continue to move forward as we always do....knowing if God wants us back here He will open the doors.