Separation and joy

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Chelsea-Paulsen-separation_5-13-14.jpg
Chelsea Paulsen with her mom and sister from her new
Hungarian host family.

 

Chelsea Paulsen is spending a year in Hungary with the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program. Here’s an excerpt from her recent newsletter. To learn how to sponsor a YAGM, see www.ELCA.org/YAGMsupport or contact globalchurch@elca.org.

Growing up I always heard and learned about our separation from God. I learned that God loves us and because of sin we are always seperated from God. This is a simple explanation of a complex theological concept and to be honest I have always struggled with understanding the true impact of the meaning of separation from God. It wasn’t until last week when I began to understand.

I was doing my favorite weekly task, walking to the grocery store. I have always loved grocery shopping and I purposely buy just enough food for seven days in order to make the weekly trip. The walk to the store takes about 10 to 15 minutes. This weekly ritual is my time to reflect on the previous week, have some quiet time, and time to talk to God. The weekly shopping trip that occurred the Monday after my birthday was a conflicted one. I had been thinking about how wonderful my 23rd birthday had been. It consisted of a beautiful and delicious lunch with my host family and family friends, an afternoon filled wandering a rododendron arboretum, and birthday ice cream.  It was a glorious day. That night I Skyped into a virtual birthday party my family threw for me. I talked to the people closest to me and I went to bed feeling blessed for the two families I have — the biological one and the new Hungarian one. 

Yet, Mondays are hard and my walk soon took the turn of thinking about how much I missed the loved ones at home. The pain was almost physical and I didn’t know how to solve the problem. Then, the God moment, the light clicked on. Perhaps, the pain I felt being separated from family and friends is on a small scale the pain God experiences being separated from us. 

It all fell together on my walk. God gives us experiences of pain or missing people to help us understand God’s love. I may be separated by countries and an ocean but my love for those at home is always the same. Even though sin separates us from God, God’s love is always enduring and is with us. We may experience pain, but sooner or later we will also experience joy. I must say that I am filled with joy by the amount of love I have from family and friends, from the support and love of my fellow Central Europe YAGMs and YAGMs abroad, and the new home that so many people have helped me create here.