hello, august

hello, august.

since january, i have been taking one picture each day. it is now august. when i began, i had no plans of coming to here. i simply wanted to document the year because i have seen the unexpected ways i’ve been led and i didn’t want a moment to slip away.

there are incongruent lines in my story, and as i reflect over the places these seven months have brought me, i try to make sense of it all and understand why i was here, what my purpose was in this place at this time.

japan had never previously sparked my interest. i never wanted to be a teacher. my motivations for coming were superficial, perhaps even existential: i didn’t want to revert to tradition; i didn’t have an apartment in california; i wanted to experience another culture.

being unable to think of any reasons not to come, i came expecting God to effect His own intentions for the circumstances he arranged. in everything He does, He does ten thousand things so i have been searching…but not finding.

my perception of God has grown dim and made it harder for me to see Him. He has promised not to forsake His children, and yet my sense of abandonment and neglect is deep. i have begun to think of Him as an unloving, detached God.

this is not true, of course; He is remembers me. He is deeply involved. He loves me. but for now these are only recited words to convince myself of a truth that feels fabricated and unreal because of recent experiences. truth is absolute, but my sense of it has become fluid and i feel lost.

there has been a disconnect between what i’ve been taught—that God is the most loving of all beings and that loving and worshipping Him despite opposition is worth the cost—and the reality that has been subjected upon me. cognitive dissonance.

in the core of my being, i cherish the gospel with every fiber of my being. but the minute details of it and practical applications present a dichotic impostor for the true Messiah which has been disillusioning and crushing.

God is love, and whoever loves has been born of God because God is love. so doubtlessly, my mission is to love. my specific purpose is less clear, and muddied with conflicts of interest. i am hurt because one of my greatest passions and joys has been snatched away. i am forced away from simplicity and a better answer is demanded of me.

maybe the point of it all is faith. maybe i won’t know the end until the final page has been written. maybe He is teaching me to listen more. i enjoyed being uncomfortable. i loved the people. i effectively observed and clearly critiqued. i learned about humble leadership. i became a better communicator. but i don’t understand how this fits into the greater narrative.

my unbelief bleeds through: my love must still be imperfect because i am afraid. i am afraid this is as good as it gets. my view of God is stunted because i can’t imagine Him gracing me with any other stretching experiences or fixing my broken pieces into anything usable.

the fact that i am still a violinist confuses me. i don’t understand why He has brought me three years through a program i don’t enjoy and is asking for yet another. the fact that relationships are dissolving makes me question whether i truly understand His nature. He didn’t come to bring peace on earth1, but He did require justice, kindness, humility,2 He did preach love to the least of these3, did He not?

my instinctive response is to cut ties. it seems practiced, though it was never intentionalーi left self-sufficiency; i left pittsburgh; i left syracuse; i left texas; i left america; and now i’m about to leave japan. i have remained personally invested in costly relationships even from a distance and i’m not sure i have the endurance to continue, though grace beckons me to persevere.

Jesus invites me to come and have faith in Himself, not in His people; but when His people inflict unanticipated, unreasonable heartbreak it is easy to conclude that He is just like them, when He is actually far more loving than i ever suspected, or than His image-bearers ever projected.

thinking about how undeserving i was of His mercy and the costly grace of His sacrifice on the cross, i know He loved and loves still. He is not unkind. He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness even when i do not.

what if it was all a gift? when i first arrived, i called it my canaan. it seems selfish but if it’s true that He intimately knows me, loves me, and is intricately working to shape my life into conformity to His will, it doesn’t seem too ostentatious to wonder if it was all just an expression of His love, an attempt to confirm and sustain me when i needed it most. maybe He is not unloving.

i have a million questions, and countless more needs. if there were ever a time i needed Christ, it is now. the truth is, He is loving. He is kind. there is hope for my future. He has promised. and while i don’t currently have the faith to believe it, this is also a gift awaiting me that He will provide if i wait expectantly for Him.

ma per ora, i salici piangono.