As I prepare to leave for my mission, mostly everyone asks the same question, "Are you ready?"And my response is usually, "Good question!" followed by more mental tightening of the top of the mason jar labeled "Emotional Preparedness," which I have decidedly shoved in the back of the wardrobe that is my brain.
Yes, the visualization of my emotions is that they are tucked away in a mason jar. Even my thoughts must be Pinterest-worthy. And yes, it's a wardrobe because Narnia. Don't at me.
Ok, I'm being a little over-dramatic. Despite the emotionally charged introduction, I do actually believe I am ready for the journey ahead of me. The Lord has been faithful to equip me both with passion and spiritual maturity to take on the road before me and the excitement is becoming more and more heightened by the day! This is a huge thing God has called me to and I know He is using this time to set things in motion for plans yet completed. How incredible it is to know He is using ME to accomplish His purposes and plans! It's a powerful thing to come to terms with, but I assure you, I'm utterly thrilled by it.
Despite trusting in God's future and being excited for what the Lord will do in and through me, I can't help but feel...FOMO. Or "fear of missing out," for those of you unfamiliar with the term.
There are a couple things contributing to this sense of FOMO for me. One of them is that my home church, Harvest Bible Chapel St. Louis, has just hired two new pastors and is about to undergo a lot of really cool and exciting changes to propel us into the next season of our church. For those of you who don't know, I was on staff at my church for about two years, first as the Interim Coordinator for the Worship Ministry during a time of staff transition and then as the Director of Media. When you don't just have to let go of ministries you've poured yourself into for years but you also have to watch as the rest of the staff talks about upcoming plans for them, it's probably impossible not to feel a little left out in all that.
The other is just the general sense of missing out one gets when they leave any place they've put down roots, especially if it's their hometown. Anyone who's ever lived in the St. Louis area knows that the regional pride here is very strong, especially if you've lived here for many years. Ask anyone from St. Louis about their home and they'll have a full 5-7 minute verbal essay explaining all the amazing things St. Louis has to offer that practically no one knows about (Ted Drewes Custard, Imo's Pizza, our FREE museums and prize-winning zoo, the wonderful insanity that is the City Museum, and that's not even scratching the surface. Come find me when you've decided to confront your own FOMO because you've never visited St. Louis; I'll be waiting).
But of course, it's not just because it's St. Louis that my heart is getting an emotional workout from all this, it's the friends and family I love so dearly who I feel like I will be leaving behind. Friends whose children are still young and make me worry that if I leave for too long they'll forget who I am. Girls in my youth group who have shared their struggles with me and have left me praying desperately for the next one who will take care of them as they continue to grow and experience new challenges in their lives. My dear friends in my church small group who have so often lifted me up and been a support to me in dry seasons in my faith as well as times of confusion and sorrow and joy and whatever seasons they will go through while I'm gone that I won't hear about on a weekly basis like I used to. My sister and her husband who are about to have their THIRD daughter and not knowing when I'll even get to meet her.
Now, I know even as I will be gone physically, the people in my life who are so dear to me won't forget me or fail to reach out and catch up with me or pray for me during this season. Believe me, they've proven their love and friendship to me enough times that it would be a disservice to them to think they would neglect to keep up the relationship, and I hope they would expect the same from me. But as someone who forms bonds through experiences, it's easy to feel like I'm going to be perpetually missing out while I'm across the sea. What memories could I have made if I were still around? What friendships could I have poured more into? What people will I now never meet because I'm somewhere else?
When I catch myself starting to think this way, I have to stop myself and remember this: God knows all possibilities. Out of all the ones He could have chosen, He has carefully crafted His plan to be exactly what 2019 Christy Šust needs to experience to not only grow more in her relationship with Him but to also bring Him the most glory through it.
The fact of the matter is yes, I will be missing out. There are some really cool things happening in my family members' and friends' lives as well as in my church that I just will not be around for to see the developing stages of or participate in the completion of. And it's ok to feel sadness from knowing I will miss out on those things. But it would be such an incredible lie to think that the Lord hasn't set up the right circumstances for me to have new memories, new relationships, new transformative experiences that will create in me a new version of myself that would not have developed otherwise. My flesh wants to focus on the things I have now and resist giving those things up for fear of losing them altogether. My spirit, however, knows that if I don't give them up the way I have them now, I won't allow the Lord to create an abundance of them tenfold from what I have already experienced.
Change will always be hard. Stepping into the unknown to do what God has called you to do is almost always downright daunting and the FOMO that can come from allowing the Lord to relocate us somewhere new, either physically or by bringing us into a new season of life, is a very real thing. But when we look back on how the Lord has been faithful to produce fruit from daunting change in the past, when have we ever regretted facing the unknown the Lord has set before us?
I'll leave you with this scripture, dear friend, from Philippians 1:6, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Whatever the work is that the Lord is doing in us and however He has decided to go about that work, we have only to trust that it is good, that He will complete it, and that the best of what He is doing is still yet to come.