What would you do if I sang out of tune?

If ever there has been a year that I sang out of tune, it has been this one. If ever there’s been a year when I lost my voice, it has been this one. If ever there’s been a year that I’ve seriously considered giving up on singing altogether, it has been this one.

In March, my world shifted on its axis. But really it started before that. I haven’t known how to write about all of this with grace and integrity. So I’ve been silent. That’s how you know I’m not quite right, by the way–when I’m quiet for too long. I mean, if you don’t have something nice to say, just shut up, right? But after several months here, waiting for Godot, I must start writing again, even if it’s not shiny and tidy. There will be no bright red bows, be warned.

Living overseas is hard. Living overseas as a missionary is even harder, I gather. But living overseas as a sort-of-missionary/sort-of-regular-person/what-the-crud-am-I-really-doing-here-person? Maybe it’s that word I have been fighting for so long: impossible. Impossible? After several months of trying to triumph over this wall of a word, we’re still here really, on the same side we were on when we first arrived in this country. For a spot there, we kind of thought we had stumbled upon our “mission” here, but then it slowly fell away. Certainty is the annoying little bastard of Pride. And what do you do with yourself when you don’t know what to do with yourself? Well, we’re still not sure. Move to Europe maybe?

I’m sorry. Are you surprised by my melancholy? It’s my own fault for fooling you into thinking everything was just fine the last few years. I mean, it is fine. We’re fine. It’s really not as depressing as my tone is coming across. But for a while now, we’ve been just barely surviving, certainly not thriving. I’m not going to lie to you now and tell you our hearts are humming “Victory in Jesus” these days. But they are still humming. More like “Blessed Be The Name of the Lord.” Don’t fret too much. We just have a lot of questions, but we seem to have been put on need-to-know status for the time being, somehow graciously benched for this quarter.

For the past few years, we felt like we had found our place in Japan, namely a church to serve alongside Japanese Christians whom we loved with all our hearts. After 5 years of striving to figure out how to best serve the Lord here in Japan, we finally found a match. Our first year there was a honeymoon–worshiping in Japanese among Japanese believers, mutually and joyfully gathering all of each others’ stories into our hearts, reveling in how even our differences complimented each others’, collaborating in fruitfulness, and seeing the church multiply very quickly.

But then somewhere along the way, we lost it. As in a marriage, how can you pinpoint that moment when things moved from challenging to “irreconcilable”? We were going through culture shock all over again, except it was “church culture” shock. Suddenly the honeymoon was over. I don’t know if I should give examples. Probably not. But the challenges went both ways: we struggled to reconcile the teachings and policies of the church with our own beliefs, and they struggled to accept us, aliens that we are here. The cultural challenges snowballed for two years, but we never considered them to be insurmountable. Until March.

When I left Japan with the kids in March after the earthquake, everything went to hell. We became deserters, traitors, outsiders never to be welcomed back. I’m actually not exaggerating. Those things were all spoken over us by strangers and friends alike. But it hurt the most coming from the church. It nearly tore me apart, personally. I won’t go into details now (you’ll have to buy the book), but I came closer this year to walking over the edge than I ever have in my life. I camped for months in emotional sadomasochism: torturing myself over every mistake, every misstep, every flat note; reading over and over again the emails from strangers who hated me and church members who were sorely disappointed in me, breathing in the words, even the lies; allowing depression and anxiety to swallow and chew me up, back and forth, back and forth. Keith was still in Japan, trying so hard to mend what had been broken. I was just trying to get myself back together again–it was all I could do to get through the day. But there were too many pieces. We couldn’t put it back together again, on either end. But we tried. And to be fair, so did they, for a very long time. We all tried so hard and we all loved like it was never gonna hurt. But in the end, we weren’t good for each other after all.

No wonder I’ve been so prophetically obsessed the last few years with the song “The Scientist”:

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
I’m goin’ back to the start

So that’s all I’ve got for you today. That’s all we know for now. We’re going back to the start.

And for those of you who didn’t stand up and walk out on me (when I sang out of tune), thank you.

About cashclan

Lisa is a grateful, born-again follower of Jesus Christ who has spent her adult life on the Gospel in several global contexts. She is the wife of one wonderful, jungle-gym of a man, who is to her the single most ravishing piece of flesh on planet earth (stolen good-heartedly from Christine Caine). She is a dedicated home educator to their four beautiful children, ages 6 to 12, whom she would be happy to gush over any time. She is an avid reader and a storyteller, an aspiring writer, a missionary to the nations and a singer of His praises, a loyal friend, an obsessive-compulsive Googler, and comedienne extraordinaire on her best days. She would also like to think that she is a loyal and loving, truth-telling friend.
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5 Responses to What would you do if I sang out of tune?

  1. Teri says:

    God has a plan for everything that happened – even the parts that don’t make sense this side of heaven. I know that’s a pat remark to make. But, it’s true. One day you’ll be old, overflowing with wisdom, and such a gift to a young missionary. All of these situations will give you the first-hand experience to relate and help them. During the really hard times it is such a gift to have someone that’s been there and really gets it! You’ll get to be God’s mouthpiece in those situations – a rhema word in due season.

    Try to find something in the journey to enjoy. I’m praying that you’ll see little glimmers of hope and joy each day. You have 4 wonderful kids and a loving, devoted husband. They will bring you joy. You are raising an army for God! What a responsibility and reward!

    Do you remember the reward you were promised? The nations! Remember once again what God has promised you. That will give you hope and joy!

    “Put on the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness and let the oil of gladness flow down from your throne! Put on the garments of praise, for the spirit of heaviness; Your joy is my strength alone, my strength alone! Make these broken weary bones rise to dance again, Wet this dry and thirsty land with a river! Lord our eyes are fixed on you and we are waiting, For your garland of grace as we praise your name!” (Does that sound like a familiar song?)

    Now is the time to pray. Pray for your family, your enemies, your former church, etc. Pray for yourself and all that he is doing in you. He is doing a lot! Perhaps this is a time for much reflection and inner healing so that you can be free, more than ever before. Rough seasons precede seasons of victory! I know it can’t be easy. But, please don’t prolong it and go around the mountain over and over. I think this is an important season for you and one that God doesn’t want to let go of. There are some things he wants and needs to accomplish in you.

    You know we’ve had earthquakes in Tulsa, right? Do you know what Jimmy shared afterwards in church? Hebrews 12:26. “And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” It’s a season for shaking, shaking off things we need to leave behind.

    Just because you may not have anything “nice” to say, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say anything at all, contrary to the saying. You just have to be selective of whom you confide in. If you choose, I’m always here to listen and lend a shoulder! I’m a Skype or phone call away. Don’t be silent, even if it isn’t pretty. Life is often not pretty. Living miserably in silence, especially for someone as outgoing and talkative as yourself, must be torture. Don’t torture yourself! That is just what satan would have – to make it even harder. Perhaps you should journal, even if you don’t publish it. It will help you process your thoughts and feelings. Even more importantly, it will give you an outlet. (Now, I’m preaching to myself. I need to do that.)

    I love you! 🙂 I wish I was in Japan to give you a BIG, LONG HUG! ((((HUG))))

    These are just my thoughts and prayers for you now. May God use what is of him and let everything else fall to the ground.

  2. mom says:

    Lisa I wish I could be with you right now And hold you. This is 1 of the hardest Things I have experienced. As a mother, I want to be able to help you. Please Know that I love you So very much. I pray for you Everyday continually. I know that 1 of these mornings.. joy will come to you. Until that time… keep reaching out to god and sharing your heart with those of us who luv u. Mom

  3. I love you. I’m okay, I promise! It really helps me to write honestly how I’m feeling. It’s cathartic. I’m still laughing, still loving, still singing, I promise. Don’t worry about me please! Just keep us in those prayers!

  4. Starr says:

    1. I love you and your writing.
    2. I had to google Waiting for Godot – a fact that will forever shame me.

  5. Thank you. It feels SOOOO good to write. I don’t know what that is. It’s amazing though. I love you too!

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