Monday, March 23, 2015

Living In The Blender.

Most of last night was spent laying in the dark with eyes wide awake. 
That seems to happen a lot these days. 
I was upset about so much of the injustice I have seen and experienced here. 
A vivid imagination was playing scenarios over and over on the walls of my mind, 
continually upset about the unfairness that I have experienced even in a few short months. Ridiculous fees that were unwarranted. Someone (I probably trusted) stealing good money and a phone from me. Anger burned under the surface, wanting to find just the right moment and spot to explode. 

This morning my dear friend reminded me that these are common things in South Africa. I must not allow anger and bitterness to consume me, or I will be swallowed whole like so many here. This is the way the enemy is at work in these parts, and I have to let it go. (Let it GOOOOO. Let it GOOOOO. There. It’s in your head for a week now. You’re welcome.) All of this was coming from someone who’s repeatedly been robbed, mugged, and treated unfairly by those who should’ve been safe. To witness her attitude completely put me in check. I can’t imagine all she’s been through. 

My entire morning and then some was spent in tire shops, trying not to impatiently tap my foot and make it obvious that I am not a fan of the pace with which things are done here. Can’t they see I was dressed in my dance gear and trying to squeeze Zumba in at the gym? What was their problem? I thought to myself how it will be such a comfort to be back in the states. And as soon as that thought entered my mind, something in me immediately said “Will it, though?!” I had a sinking feeling that little voice was very onto something. Something unsettling. I didn’t want to think about it, so I tried to get lost in my book. And ran smack into Kelly Minter describing the challenges of re-integration and reverse culture shock after spending time in the Amazon. Her beautiful and colorfully crafted words resonated so well that I believe she just may have taken a glance into my brain before writing them. 

Here I was, sitting in a tire shop, reading about what I will soon experience upon returning to the U.S.  A sweet woman sat down next to me and asked me where home is. ( A question I am asked daily because as soon as I speak I give myself away.) 
For some reason, I completely froze. I didn’t quite know how to answer her. Nothing I could have said to make it simple seemed right. I tried to maintain my calm composure as I slightly freaked out on the inside. Home. Well, do you mean the small Dutch community I was raised in? Haven’t lived there for a long time.  How about the mountains my grandparents were forest rangers in-where I hiked and explored every summer? Or the beautiful Oregon coast that hosted my Spiritual growth and taught me about unconditional love? Perhaps it’s the Santa Cruz redwoods and the small conference centre where I worked and lived nestled away- finding Jesus and myself among the canopy of those old beautiful giants? Maybe home is the safety, beauty, and serenity of my friends and their property in the Washington countryside. A place where I know I shall always find peace and be allowed to simply be. Or the big southern charm of Texas, where my tendency towards big hair, country music, cowboy boots, and serious women’s ministry is completely normal. So much of myself needs not be explained in the big city and big ministries among the southern heat.  Right now I’d say home feels a lot like South Africa. I’m used to the way things are here. And the various cultures, the beauty, the frustration, the visible scars that I see all over this place daily but love deeply none-the-less. The children and their un-briddled enthusiasm over the camp of a lifetime. The slower pace that life takes. The way my friends tell me I am considered “family status” and are always available and checking on me, making time for me, letting me share in meals and game nights and loving me well. The thought of “home” becomes suddenly quite overwhelming and lost to me all at the same time. And like Kelly describes in the book I’m reading, I will forever be missing all the paces I am not. Nowhere will ever feel complete to me again. And the gravity of a life lived with that fully begins to set in for the first time. When I am here I miss the states. When I’m in California I miss Africa and Texas. When I’m in Texas I miss Washington. It’s a puzzle. A puzzle of life in ministry and missions. I have only experienced a slice and I’m forever ruined for normalcy. This makes me even more amazed of my friends who’ve lived this for years. The puzzle is never solved outside of knowing my true home is waiting for me in eternity. Amidst the constantly feeling “out of place” with any group I’m around, I recognize the strange and unique blessing of living this way. Learning to love in all conditions. Extending mercy and grace especially when I may not feel like it. Especially when the people I most want to understand don’t. They can’t. 

As I contemplate these things, I simply say the the sweet woman sitting beside me: “Home is many places. I’ve been privileged.” Just then the car is ready, and I smile, knowing that when I get to the gym, the same songs that we dance to in Modesto and Texas will loudly fill a room filled with at least 4 cultures. Suddenly everything feels a little less big and shaky.  Sure, I have an interesting road to navigate from now on, but the little things like this make it all okay. 

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