The Carroll Clan is back in the US and it’s been one crazy ride!
As of about two weeks ago we became residents of North Carolina and here is how it happened:
As many of my friends and family know, I was working as a fundraiser at one of the larger universities in Aberdeen, UK when, due to some unfortunate circumstances, we had about a month’s notice before our visa expired and we were no longer able to stay in the country. This led to a frenzied attempt to accomplish the near impossible task of getting a family of 5 ready to move “overseas” with only a few weeks notice. The task seemed so insurmountable that we almost didn’t know where to start. Thankfully, my parents offered us a place to stay while we sorted things out.
To be honest, those few weeks were mostly a blur. We pretty much sold everything we could through various channels and then gave tons of good stuff to our local charity shop. In over 4 and a half year we sure did manage to collect a lot of stuff. Originally, due to the heavy cost, we decided to only ship 3 boxes over to the US. Things like the boy’s football (soccer) trophies made the cut but a lot of things attached to precious memories were going to have to be left behind. However, God stepped in through the finial support of several of our family and friends. Because of this support we were able to send over 6 boxes. They were thoughtfully packed to the brim as we carefully sorted what would help most during the transition. To date, 4 and a half boxes have made it to the US. One was torn apart by customs and another has been delayed.
Jamming your life into 6 boxes can be a somewhat daunting, and even tragic, experience. We had to have a serious talks with the boys and explain to them that only the essential and mostly irreplaceable things could go with us to our new home. As a whole, I think they have a good perspective on not placing your faith or identity on material goods. That being said, it was still difficult to explain that some things like bikes and plastic ninja swords had to stay behind. They took it well, shedding only a few tears. Thanks to a generous donation from Melodie’s aunt, our dog Prince was able to come with us. He has been a stable source of rambunctious encouragement during this upheaval in our lives. Also, the sense of continuity he brings to our transition from Scotland to the US has helped immensely! He’s as daft as ever, but an essential member of our family.
As you can tell from the timeline I’ve related, we didn’t have much time to think, let alone plan everything out. It’s all hit me pretty hard in this last week. Our circumstances required action and we worked hard up to the very minute the taxi came to pick us up for the airport. Melodie had a relapse of her sickness about a week before we left, probably due to the stress of our situation. That was difficult. When it came to getting the job done, packing, cleaning, and preparing for the move, I just buckled down and made it happen. I really didn’t realise the bitterness that was creeping into my heart.
Now that we are here, I’ve had a bit of time to prayerfully reflect on our situation. Several people with whom I spoke about my visa sponsorship were angry for me. I honestly didn’t have time to be angry, I just felt numb and maybe even flippantly laughed it off in an attempt to avoid the stress.
Currently, I’m feeling a bit let down. Not by people around me or anyone has has helped with support during this difficult time. I’m feeling let down by God. We tried everything possible to stay in the UK and continue our ministry to our community. I really struggled through the decision to move back to the US and agonised over one important question. “Am I being faithful to God’s calling in our lives?” Additional follow-up questions developed from there: Was there a way to stay that I hadn’t thought of? Was I retreating from a difficult situation, hoping for the proverbial ‘greener grass’ that might be available in the US? Should I have fought against the injustice of my situation? We prayed that if it was God’s will for us to leave that he would shut the metaphorical door firmly in our face, leaving us no other option. This is what seems to have happened.
Upon arriving to the US I expected things to take shape. For the past few months, I’ve sent out application after application for different ministry positions. Some were gracious enough to responded with a kindly written rejection letter. Some haven’t bothered responding at all. A typical rejection response includes platitudes like “although we are impressed by the qualifications listed on your resume, we have narrowed our selection down to a list of candidates, a list that doesn’t include you.” One response just thanked me for “taking time to fill out the application.” Given our situation, and the blatant lack of options other than a move back to the US, I figured something would have materialised by now. It’s disheartening to keep receiving these rejections, each seems like an antagonising poke in the ribs telling me that my hope in God’s provision is unjustified and my calling is naive at best.
Despite my intense training in Spiritual Formation, a training that sought (among other things) to make me aware of my false notions of identity and reliance on the worldly systems of achievement and accolades, I am struggling. I’ve never felt so at home than when engaged with the academic process, researching and teaching about God’s word. To do this for “a living” would provide for me a context in which to flourish. Instead, I am stuck in a sort of limbo, wondering if a multitude of factors (an oversaturated job market, a need to do something productive, a lack of finainces to provide for my family’s basic needs) will eventually force my hand, causing me to look elsewhere and sidestep my calling to an important aspect of Christian ministry.
Although I am not feeling particularly loved or sustained by God at the moment, I know from the past ways he has worked in our lives that he is faithful. For the time being, I hold on to this aspect of the unchanging character of my God. Limboland is a miserable place but it is only temporary.
Psalm 131 O Yahweh, my heart is not haughty nor my eyes arrogant. And I do not concern myself with things too great and difficult for me. Rather I have soothed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like the weaned child is my soul with me. O Israel, hope in Yahweh from now until forever.
Please pray that God will provide ministry or academic post in which I can write, teach, and serve. Let me know how I can be praying for you!
If you would like to help finically during this time of transition, you can make a gift to our PayPal account: firstname.lastname@example.org
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