In the last two weeks I have noticed something missing in the my life. It was something that has had a grip on my heart and my life for the past year or more, so to notice it’s absence was jolting. However, for the first time in a very long time, I realized that I was content and relaxed. My heart was at peace and hopeful. I was not in the very throes of an insane adjustment and on the precipice of a profoundly huge change on life. Suddenly, the anxiety of of being “the new kid” or facing a loss that I couldn’t fathom, or being unfamiliar with everyone and everything around me was not there. And I could breathe again – like a huge weight had been lifted, and my vision had cleared.
I hadn’t realized how much this had become part of my daily life, this carrying around of unfamiliarity and stress of never knowing what to expect. The truth is, we all have this – even now I realize that in honesty I don’t know what will happen before I finish this blog. However, the last 16 months or so have been filled with the type of intense changes that bring your stress levels off the chart. I jokingly took a couple of those tests where you are assigned a number for everything that you are experiencing in your life at the moment, and each one said something along the lines of, “You are at high risk for illness with the amount of stress you are undergoing.” Ha!
So when I sat in my living room the other day, watching the curtains blowing in the breeze, and simply sitting in silence for a few minutes, I was startled to realize that I am not feeling these things anymore. Our kids are doing well – settling into Rosslyn and Nyack and figuring things out – even our homeschooled child is doing well. Every night of homework is no longer a huge stress, because we are all starting to know what teachers expect and how to do it. Our huge fear of John being so far away and not understanding how that would work has been put to rest as we facetime regularly, text often, and watch him growing and maturing into an amazing young man and thriving in his environment! We miss him, but this new stage of relationship is sweet and wonderful, and I will immerse myself into it wholeheartedly. There’s not the threat of gunfire and evacuation everyday, though certainly those days that we have security threats here in Nairobi (often) are padded with the comfort that we are not so isolated. I know that we were exactly where we were supposed to be at each stage in the last year and a half, but I am thankful to be in one place longer than a few months.
We no longer have to wonder about where to shop, or to buy gas, or to eat. We have “our” regular places, and we are enjoying a new stage of routine and schedule in that for now. When I get in the car to drive, I am not regularly going to the wrong side to get in or flipping on the windshield wipers rather than the turn signal. In church I was looking around and realized that I can at least tell you the names of most people there, so it’s not like worshipping with a bunch of complete strangers each week. We are growing relationships and friendships with this new family, and even developing those little jokes and nuances that make a friendship feel as though it will stand over time and be life-giving. I will never again underestimate the toll that having nothing around you be familiar takes and I will try to remember this as we welcome new people and friends here.
We have started to figure out how to have purpose and relationships in each part of our different communities here – Serge team, Rosslyn, and New City Fellowship. There are some areas where those three things overlap, but each could be a full time pursuit when it comes to real depth of relationship and meaningful ministry. Then add in trying to keep things real with people back in the States, and it can be overwhelming. However, God is slowly showing us how to not feel spread so thin, but to take each person and each moment as it’s own thing. In our ladie’s time for team we are reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller, and one of the things he says is that learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart in the midst of outer busyness. I am understanding more than ever that this is true. If I am praying and wanting to be deeply and intimately involved in the lives that God puts in my path, I am going to be busy in serving and praying and loving. The only way to do this to the fullest and most fulfilling is by learning to quiet my heart.
In the past year, I felt on survival mode. The “mother bear” in me was in a constant state of guard and ready to spring at any moment to help my kids in whatever ways they needed. Even in that, I couldn’t protect them from many things. Evacuation, gunfire, illness – these were out of my control. And I felt helpless and angry as I watched them struggle through. Yet now, on the other side of it, I see kids (young adults!) that are well – grounded, love Jesus, and have eyes that see much more of what Jesus sees than I ever did at that age. I am humbled and have had to confess to God that I too often tried to play his role in their lives.
So I am thankful. Not only for this time of respite and routine right now, but also for the chaos that lead to me being right here in this spot. I am grateful that as I come out on this side of this “stage” I am deeper with him and so much more aware of my own weaknesses and faults without him. I know I will try to do it on my own again, but hopefully next time the period of self-reliance will be shorter, and I can be assured that it will end with yet another level of intimacy with him.
Thank you all for your love, encouragement, and prayers in the past year.