tragic flaw (n): : a flaw in character that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy
My name is Sarah. And my tragic flaw is that I don’t know how to live in the present.
In my last post, you might have noticed that I’ve lived in a lot of different places in the past 5 years. Which is beautiful and amazing, and yes, it’s an adventure.
But with every new adventure, there is a slew of new goodbyes and a cold wave of loneliness which sweeps across my heart.
And this has become a lifestyle. Maybe it will always be my lifestyle.
I don’t know.
What I do know is that when I started to pull out of my friend’s driveway last month and her son ran around to my car, crying, to give me one more hug and say goodbye, something inside me broke.
And all the way home, I cried my eyes out and cried aloud,
“Why do I always have to say goodbye? Will the goodbyes ever end?”
And the simple answer is no, they will not end. Because even if everything about our lives stayed the same for the rest of our lives (not likely), the lives of those around us would change.
And goodbyes are bound to happen. Because this isn’t Heaven. This earth is the place of goodbyes.
So how do I live faithfully in this life? With a heart surrendered and longing, but not broken? How do I give God the pieces of my loneliness, aching, and questioning and just believe that He is enough in the present?
When I was in the Czech Republic in 2011, my heart was often in Nashville. And when I was in Nashville after a summer in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in 2010, my heart stayed in the Northwoods. And the rest of me longed to be back there. Often.
In South Africa, I missed my church family. A lot. But South Africa became home. Yet the tension remained…my heart was never just in one place. Which caused me to miss out on what was happening right in front of me because too often, my mind was consumed with what had happened in another time, in another place.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have daydreamed about living in Colorado. Years worth of daydreaming, let me assure you. And now I’m here – in this beautiful state. And I see pictures of my friends returning to South Africa and my heart weakens. And my soul longs for that home. Because Muizenberg became home and the people there from 15 different nations became my family.
Yet God has called me here. For such a time as this. And it is one thing to believe that He called me here and has reasons and purposes for me. But it is quite another to learn to be content in every situation, as my brother Paul learned as he engaged in a life of continual ministry.
See, a tragic flaw is a trait that leads to a character’s downfall. And I know that if my gaze is continually fixed on a time, place, or group of people other than Christ and the place and people He has placed in front of me now, then
I know that in past transitions – and oh, how there have been many transitions – God has used the feeling of loneliness and isolation to draw me into deeper intimacy with Him.
Yet sometimes, I run to my memories and call upon my old friend nostalgia to keep me company. But this is poisonous to my soul. Because while there is so much value in memories and recalling the beautiful adventures God has already brought me through, to dwell on those memories and think of them as better than the life before me is nothing less than idolatry.
What? A memory can be an idol?
Sure. Anything that we place as more important or preferable to God in our midst now can be an idol.
And while I don’t intend to disappoint…this post doesn’t have a resolution. There is no “and this is what God showed me and how it is all going to be better.” Because I haven’t arrived at that point yet.
I’m living in the middle of this tension. Recognizing my tragic flaw and living in the awareness that a tragic downfall is the most logical conclusion if I continue down this path of the restless heart.
But there is hope.
Simply put, there is hope because JESUS.
He is. He was. He will continue to be.
And He is the hero that has redeemed me and will redeem all of my flaws.
So hands open, heart hoping, I confess my weakness and pray that He will tame this restless heart.