“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
As mentioned in the previous post, a few weeks before making our change in decision, it dawned on me how much of a hardened heart that I had had for at least a few months. The negative impact from this was realized more and more when I actually took the time to stop, examine my heart, and pinpoint the reasons for struggles I was having in my work and my personal life.
Not only did my heart harden toward people, but I was not right in my assessment of particular issues. Therefore, I thought, said or did many things that were not me or the person I was created to be. These instances have been reminders to me quite often as of late and have helped me start to move in the right direction from a past where I misconstrued many things.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Moses and the events it took for the exodus to happen. It is not surprising that this has come to the forefront of my mind at this time. Why? Because of the heart that Pharaoh had while Moses asked for the Jews, his people, to be released from slavery. Several times in Exodus it is somehow stated, “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart…” or “Pharaoh’s heart is still hardened.”
Things weren’t going Pharaoh’s way, and he wasn’t happy about it one bit. This is exactly how I felt many times these past six months. My way is best! Or so I thought. Little did I remember what inevitably happened to Pharaoh and his heart. Like him, I was blinded. I now know of at least a few more areas in my life that need to be surrendered, and it is time to deal with them.
In the week of May 27th this year, we announced we would be returning to Warsaw, IN upon my acceptance of a teaching job there. The weeks following that decision turned out to be the hardest for me personally as well as a couple weeks for our marriage. Toward the beginning of June, I informed my fifth graders (at that time) of our leaving the school. I was met by many students crying, faces of disbelief, and even later told of one student who didn’t eat the rest of that day. The days the students were told were Thursday and Friday. That following weekend for me, I cried several times as well. The weeks afterward, I had trouble sleeping. Something was not right. I didn’t feel peace in my heart for a move back to the US. Not yet. Not now.
As God has a way of working, my wife pointed out something. “Daniel, this could be an emotional response.” And she’s right. I’m an emotional person. In times like these, I can’t help but feel an assortment of them. With that said, Marta and I took the past few weeks to pray individually, pray together, and discuss the future along with its details. I would pray for my emotions to not be involved, and for the Holy Spirit to either give us peace to leave or conviction to stay. (Side note: I firmly believe in the practice of praying dangerously.) As we talked and prayed, Marta would repeatedly say America is where we should go while I would vote for China.
We both saw positives and red flags in both places. Certain things could happen in both places. How do we decide what to do if we don’t agree and neither one of us budge on our stance? It was then, on Friday, June 19th that I told the school of the ultimatum that Marta suggested and I agreed to. If we can obtain our visas before leaving, we will stay in China. If not, we’ll return to the US. Mind you, getting work visas in China usually takes twenty or more work days. We gave them three. It was in this circumstance that we had to wait on a miracle from God above if He wanted us to stay overseas.
After June 19th, I started to mentally prep myself for the move back. I also had to remind myself what was brutally true. My wife had been mentally ready for months since we made this call months ago. I couldn’t expect her emotions to change overnight. That would be ridiculous of me. I learned so much about myself during this time in regards to how my heart wasn’t right on several issues and how it was hardened (definitely more on this in another post). But now it seemed I was okay with going back, and Marta was softening to the possibility of staying. Personally, I found it hard to pray during this week. I thought that if God really wanted us in China, why did He have an extremely tough ultimatum set up? Even faith the size of a mustard seed felt like too much to give at this point.
But it was on Wednesday, June 24th that I received a call at work saying our visas had been approved and would be given to us the next day! It was truly a miracle!! When I told Marta, she smiled really big and said, “God really wants us here.” We chuckled and embraced. I was still in shock because my mental preparations weren’t necessary anymore. God had made it abundantly clear that He wants us to stay in China. What was more convincing is that our school didn’t use any 关系 (guanxi, or relationships) or bribes to make this happen. It wasn’t a matter of knowing or paying people, it was a matter of faith and believing in Him who can make all things happen.
My wife told me later that she was praying the visas would work out. It warmed my heart to hear this. I, on the other hand, found it quite hard to pray because I was upset, doubtful, and questioning (all in a bad sense). Time and time again in my life, God has proven Himself faithful and present. Not only had my emotions been stirred these past few weeks, but the Holy Spirit was also trying to tell us something.
My dad once told me, “Daniel, if God tells you to do something, you run with it. If you think He is checking you, turn around and run the other way.” It’s been nothing but peace knowing that we’re now running the right direction, His direction.
Some will find this hard to believe while others won’t be surprised. My family and I will be returning to America. And not just for the summer. Starting late June/early July 2015, we will be back for a while. We found moving back a necessary decision for several reasons, some of which I don’t need to go into detail.
1) My work: I work at a private Chinese school, and I don’t mind it. I used to really enjoy it, but some things have changed. Some haven’t. If you’d like to know more about it, just ask. 🙂
2) Caleb: Our son will be going through some pivotal years being almost 6 months old now. Thus, numerous questions have come to mind regarding his future, education, friends, influences, environment, and the list goes on, though I know there will not be a “perfect” scenario for him.
3) Our future: I will teach at another school. My wife will care for our firstborn (and maybe another in the next couple years), continue to guide our son and learn what we should do to best care for him, and finally support me. She’s such a blessing, and it’s been amazing to see how she has developed as a person in so many ways since becoming a mother.
We don’t know what else the future holds. What we do know is this next move, wherever it may be to, needs to last more than two years. We have sought out God’s wisdom in this matter. We originally thought God had called us to China long-term, but plans have changed for the time being.
What’s more important in this life is purpose. I believe that God created me and has made me for purposes, most unbeknownst to me. In the meanwhile, I am striving to discover the life He has intended for me and how I can be intentional with it for Him and with people.
Therefore, this will be the last blog written on the dscottinchina website. Thank you all for reading and discussing Chinese life and culture. If you’d like to read more of my professional/teaching blog, simply check out: mr5scott.blogspot.com
Yes, it’s true. I’m going to be a father! My wife is now in her fifth month, and I’m doing fine. (HA!) I say that because it’s our first child, and we plan to have it in China. It’s also because I believe the news is hitting me more and more while the number of people I tell grows larger.
Countless thoughts have run through my mind in the past month or so, but none compare to the ones I have had related to responsibility and limited time. I have considered our family’s future, along with its education, air quality, medical care, culture, church, etc. But some recent experiences have been reminders that have shown me the weight and span that all this parenting business will encompass. Continue reading →
Recently, an event happened within the Chinese culture that did not make much sense to me at the time. It’s easy to feel disrespected no matter where you are at in the world, but the difference comes in the reaction. Though I try to be more proactive, there are still those times that come out of nowhere.
Exhibit A I was waiting at a local bus stop behind a wall providing shade for me. I knew there was a space under the wall, but I didn’t know how important that space would be. Continue reading →