Anna my 6 year old is screaming from upstairs in her bed for me to come up to her. She’s not screaming because she’s scared. I can tell from her voice that she’s just got something to tell me. It’s the typical persistant, ever growing louder by each call type of yell. I can tell she really wants to talk to me because I can hear her all the way from the sound-killing family room as I try to watch the NBA playoffs. Lucas, who is younger than Anna by 4 years is also screaming. But he’s doing it because Anna’s doing it. It’s a game to him. Plus, the result of the game is that daddy comes back in the room.
Someone in the kitchen, where it’s much easier to hear what’s going on upstairs, alerts me to their cries by saying, “The kids are asking for you.” I make the snide remark, “They’re asking for some discipline is what they’re asking for.” as I make my first motion out of my recliner. I’m a bit upset. It’s the second time we’ve completed this exercise tonight. As I get to the stairs, I’m contemplating the type of discipline I’m going to dish out. But by the time I reach the top of the stairs, my attitude has changed and I decide to hear her out on what this “urgent” need is. (Then I’ll decide what type of punishment she would get.)
“Yes, dear, what’s the problem?”, I say.
“Daddy, I miss China.”, she said at first fine, but by the word “China” is forcing out a tear and overemphasized wording.
Two thoughts occur to me at this moment. The first is, Man, she’s such a drama queen. Should I let her turn on tears like that? The second was, Man, I’m really glad I didn’t come in here without hearing out what my daughter had to say.
Except for Micah, who was like 4 months old when we left China, we’ve all done some type of grieving since leaving China. Lucas, 2, struggled with the unfamiliarity of everything and everybody. Anna’s biggest anxiety came in the form of her room. She misses it. She misses the colors, the bedspread, the closets, and that she had a room by herself. (Her brother shares a room with her now.)
Jacquelyn and I continue to struggle with our grief over leaving China, too. There are lots of manifestations as a result of our grief, but one of the main roots of the grief is our purpose. Or better put, the lack of purpose. What’s our ministry here?
“Daddy, I miss China”, Anna repeated, this time in full forced tears.
“What is it that you miss about China?” I said, trying to think of something that would comfort her. I sit on the bed and give her a snuggle.
“My room…You know that cover with the colors on it and it was purple and it was my blanket”, she said, using her hand to draw the designs of the comforter. “I want that. Can we get that out of storage.”
“Yes, we can get it out of storage. Did we bring it back with us from China?” I say.
“I miss my friends”, she continued.
“Well, your mom and I are praying about going back”, I said, realizing that by the time that we would actually get back to China her memory of the place would be very little and everything that we knew would be different. Plus, she probably will be pretty engrained in life here in the States by that time.
The statement was true. We are praying about going back. In fact, just that day I surprised myself with my response when the pastor of the church we are attending asked me where I see my self and my family in 5 years. Without hesitation I said, “Back in China, or if not China, some place around the world.” His reply was one of excitement, “Well, that gives us something pray about, doesn’t it?” He then probed a bit further, “What would it take to get you back there?” Again, without hesitation I said, “Two things. A specific call to do a specific thing and Jacquelyn and I take the next step in our spiritual growth.”
Anna had a puzzled look on her face and repeated what I just said as a question, “Move back?”
“Yeah, we’re praying about it”, I offered.
“But we just ordered a house”, Anna said, truly confused as to why we would “order” a house and then decide to move.
“We didn’t order a house, dear”, myself now confused.
“Yes, we did. Mommy got a piece of paper with a house on it. We ordered it.” she said quite positive of her memory.
Jacquelyn had taken Anna to look at a house that was for sale and picked up a flyer about the house.
“Oh, well, we didn’t order it. Mommy and you just looked at the house and that piece of paper just listed all the things it includes.” I said with a big a smile on my face.
“Can we get that blanket out of storage?” she said in her scattered, non-sequitur kind of way.
“Yes, dear. Now go to sleep. Put your head on your pillow and close your eyes. Good night, dear.”
“Good night, daddy”
Lucas, who up to this point was sitting up in his bed, repeating everything that Anna was saying, with the same intonation, looked at me with a huge smile.
“You, too, bud. Head down. Eyes closed. Go to sleep.”
In his 2 year-old, cute way he replied, “Go sleep”, and put his head down.