That summer in Bangladesh? I chose that specific project, from a missions catalog that came in the mail. There were other trips, to more glamorous places: England or France or New Zealand.
That year in the RV? We chose it - to give up our jobs, our health insurance, our upscale grocer, the comforts of security and routine.
Those kind of choices don't really make sense. They're hard to explain. (Some people shake their heads). (Some people are even a little bit angry). Why not spend your high school summers lifeguarding and singing along with the radio? Why not stay on a safe career track with retirement plans?
It's the same reason why runners will sign up for marathons. In the moment, it is pure agony. At intervals, you feel defeated, unable to put one foot in front of the other. Afraid. Your mind must fight for courage, your lungs must force another breath. But the end result is humbling, glorious, powerful. You learn you can do it. Those miles of misery are overshadowed by triumph. Even as you nurse your wounds, you look around at the other runners, a shared sense of camaraderie and pride at being brave enough to take the challenge.
In the middle of difficult seasons, we shout: "I never ever ever want to go through this again."
But then you realize that "hard" is a good teacher. That If you take big risks, there are also big gains. It's good to step out into the unknown, into the arena of dreams and possibilities. You push your brain, mind, and body to new limits - and then realize you can go still further.
Most of all, it is beneficial to experience suffering so that we can feel compassion. As others hurt, we understand the pain of sacrifice. We dare not judge, but instead lift a hand of mercy as others falter on the course.
Will I ever step back on Bengali soil? Will we ever do another RV experiment? Perhaps not. (I sort of hope not). But maybe we will - and there's a part of me that looks forward to that. Because I know that, with God's help, we can do most anything.