Distance can be a difficult thing. They say it makes the heart grow fonder, but at some point it just sucks.
Moving is never an easy thing, and growing up, my family moved quite a bit. At some point though, it gets easier, and by the time I moved to college, which was a month or so after moving to a new house, it really was not that difficult. So, moving to Hungary was also not too bad.
How do you celebrate or mourn when you are on the other side of the world? At one point I found myself curled up in a ball on my floor just done with it all. In reflecting what to write for this blog, I started rereading a newsletter I wrote during one of the events (if you want to read that, check it out here). I was reminded of the prayer my fiancé was praying over me during that time, which she didn’t tell me about until after—that I would feel the tangible presence of God in those moments.
The thing that was different about moving to Hungary, was that if something happened, I couldn’t just be there. In 2018 not “being there” was difficult in my family. On New Year’s, I jokingly said it was both the best and worst year of my life—in a more serious tone I realized that was actually the truth. I got engaged, got to see Ireland twice, my sister got engaged, and I got to see two of my friends get married! But I also lost a niece, a grandpa, a beloved family pet and my other grandparents, father, and sister all went to the hospital with serious health issues…and that is just the beginning.
As someone who does not communicate well, there are times I think I speak directly, but I still get misunderstood. Trying to communicate my pain and spiraling was and is a difficult thing to do. When the people who understand you without words are thousands of miles away, processing, mourning, and celebrating are very difficult. You can “be with them” on the phone, but once you hang up it can feel even emptier, and without physical reassurance, things can seem pretty bleak. Especially when no one else can really seem to understand and have things going on in their own lives. You can’t celebrate someone when you are the only one in the room who knows them, and celebrating events is hard when it doesn’t really touch the people in the room you are with.
But back to the prayer my fiancé was praying for me. During most of the year, I had a dull ache in my heart and it always felt like there was a cloud covering me. I started sleeping more and working out to escape the feelings. The whole time, there was another weight on me, but it was not a bad one. It was a constant and tiny whisper…a question…“Am I still who I say I am?” God challenging me to look up at Him and challenge Him on His character and His heart. I wanted desperately for Him to pull me out, to make the bad things just stop. But He didn’t. Instead, He parachuted into it. He kicked down the door and made me acknowledge that even if everyone felt far away, He was still right there. He comforted me in my tears and sadness, and I would laugh and celebrate with Him in happy moments.
It was very strange for me. At coffee shops, the store, the metro, everywhere, I had this friend—this weight—not all that different from a hug constantly there.
As I look to a future of being away from those I have known for years, and pray that there would be new people like that in my life, I get scared. Dealing with things from a distance can be very isolating, but that is also why Christ came to bridge that gap again. To break into a world of darkness and shine His light. And if what is true in the light and when everything is going well is still true in the darkest of times, then when I am afraid and feeling crushed, I can still trust in Him.
– By Daniel Buck, OMS Hungary Team Member