Moving overseas has changed my life in so many ways. In some aspects, living in Turkey is similar to when Leah and I lived in Virginia. Our families in Michigan are not physically accessible, but they are only a phone call or video chat away.
However, something I’ve struggled with since I first moved away from home was my longing to still be an active participant in the lives of my brothers. Being home-schooled first through eighth grade, I interacted closely with my four brothers. Whether we were chasing each other around with sticks, pulling each other into a fort with a rope to depict the Ascension in our “Easter Play,” or making a roller coaster by riding Mom’s baking pans down a ladder, there was always a level of appreciation and companionship.
Being away from my brothers has had a major impact on me. I often wonder if there’s more I could be doing to encourage them in their spiritual and personal endeavors. It is an uncomfortable feeling, but one to which I’ve become accustomed. I’ve missed many concerts, musicals, and sports events. It’s left me wishing Leah and I could be beamed home to Michigan at any time.
Lately, this feeling has been much stronger.
The birth of Joe and Brittany’s son, Jonah, is something that has brought joy to my heart. I am so happy their family is safe and happy. I am very excited to meet my new nephew. While I’ve seen him through Skype, my heart aches to hold him and let his tiny fingers latch onto mine. Joe and I used to be roommates at home, and I have fond memories of our relationship. He and Brittany will be great parents. I’m excited to be Uncle David.
I miss being at home for Sam’s high school years. I have followed his athletic stats online after every game. One of my favorite things to do when I’m at home is to watch Sam play baseball and basketball. His knowledge on and off the field and court amazes me. I miss joking around with Sam. He has a great sense of humor and a great personality.
I also miss my interactions with my youngest brother Benny. Although I am 14 years his senior, we have an interesting relationship that is constantly developing. With him, it’s the little things I miss – the “funny” jokes he comes up with, his crazy brain and its academic achievements, and running around the house during Nerf wars.
I have enjoyed Daniel’s time with us in Turkey. Ever since we were little, we have been great friends (whether we wanted to admit it or not). I am sad I will miss his graduation from Liberty. Other than last semester, we have never lived more than a 40 minute drive apart.
It’s not just my brothers that I miss. I miss being able to talk face-to-face with my parents. I’m almost 25 years old, and I still think my Dad gives the best hugs. Those hugs have embraced me during some of my most difficult and exciting moments. He and mom have always been a solid support system. I miss my grandparents and Leah’s family. I wish I could see Mary run cross country for her college team, and I wish I could see Leah’s mom at her various award ceremonies. I miss my close friends and my aunts, uncles, and cousins.
I think these feelings of guilt have spurred from a lack of trust in God’s plan. Lately, God has been teaching me something valuable. Who I am and the level of influence and support I give has nothing to do with my physical presence in the lives of those I love. God has placed us in different places of the world for a reason; my responsibilities lie where God has placed me. I pray that by following His will for my life, I will be an example of Christ. Rather than being bogged down by guilt, I can praise Him for the relationships we have.
I’ve wallowed in self-pity because there were events I could not attend. I have realized this kind of thinking prevents me from being effective in my current career. I am surrounded every day by kids who look to me for guidance. As a teacher, I have an opportunity to display forgiveness and other character traits to my students.
I often take for granted the relationship I have with my wife. Leah is my best friend. She does so much for our relationship and constantly devotes herself to loving me. I am so thankful God brought us together. I want to to focus on being a better husband and communicator.
While I may never get completely accustomed to missing important events in the lives of my family, I can rest assured my hope and my contentment lies in my devotion to Christ. My underlying fear has been that I am not fulfilling my responsibility as an older brother. I choose to redirect my thinking so I am measuring my life’s value not by my physical presence in the lives of my family, but by my obedience to Christ.