Monday, April 17, 2017

On light.


The sun always rises.  Sunday always comes.  Light brings hope and truth and new beginnings. 

I am so grateful these things are true, and have always been true, and will always be true, until forever.

I’m so grateful for the caring love that was shared after my Saturday post. I’m also grateful that I don’t sit in that darkness forever.  I want to assure the well-meaning readers out there that the depth of feeling I shared in that post – that isn’t my living, breathing, daily gasping for breath. That was a moment in a sleepless night that somehow felt worth capturing and sharing.  I am grateful that God uses vulnerability to speak to others, to make others feel a little bit less alone in the world, in their feelings, in the depths.  I am grateful I feel deeply because it means I am alive.

I am grateful for seasons that bring us to our knees. I am grateful for seasons that are filled with joy. I am grateful to have friends on the journey, and grateful that vulnerability allows light to shine in to dark places. If we hide the places that are dark, light won’t ever get in.  I am grateful to have a platform to share light, and life and truth and the journey, and I'm grateful that he always shows me it’s never actually about me anyway.

I am grateful God has given me a gift of words, and I am grateful when I have the courage to be obedient and share them.  I am grateful for the quiet seasons, and grateful for the crazy ones. Each and every season is a gift, is part of the rhythm of life, and the sun rises and the sun sets and we have another day and another opportunity to arise, shine, let our light out into the world, into the darkness, into the places thirsty for hope and healing and life and goodness. 

I am grateful for quiet office days that help me to feel less overwhelmed with the work to be done. I’m grateful for lighthearted laughter and friends to share life with.  I’m so grateful for team members who are incredibly capable, willing, and able to help share the load.  I’m grateful the work of bringing light and life to the world is not only on my shoulders; that I am gifted for a purpose and want to see that to fruition, but beyond that lies only trust and hope. It doesn’t mean the hard things aren’t still there… it means they aren’t quite so scary. 

I am so grateful for the light.  


Saturday, April 15, 2017

In the meantime.

I’ve avoided writing lately… because I’m a bit afraid of what will come out, if I let it. 

It’s a hard, dark season.

I feel guilty for even writing just that.  I’ve got an incredible life and get to do incredible things; I’ve got a dream job lined up and a great place to live already and both came so easily it feels scandalous, like somehow I believe these things are supposed to be hard and because they weren’t at any minute the glory will crack and crumble and all will fall apart.

I’m about to embark on a major life transition, and I’ve read all the books and the blogs and the words of wisdom from others who have gone before me.  It’s an exciting time and I’m thrilled about where I’m headed but in the meantime… in the meantime… the darkness is real.

Seven weeks left in this place and what feels like eighteen weeks’ worth of work to do in that time. In my sane moments I’m excited to hand it all over and watch it thrive and grow and flourish under someone else, but what if it doesn’t?  Because I’m analyzing everything I’ve done and trying to capture it appropriately into manuals and how-to guides and final reports, all I can see is where I’ve failed.  Where I’ve made the wrong decision or didn’t do as well as I could have; seeing all the places I wish I had more time to develop…  I desperately wish I could have made a bigger impact, I could have done more, I would have worked harder and longer and better and maybe then I would leave a legacy in this place worth remembering. 

Have I made a difference?   Many of my closest friends have left and I find myself withdrawing from those who remain… withdrawing from community, because it will be easier to leave in a few weeks’ time without the hassle of emotional ties and tears.  The masses of people present at a recent goodbye highlights the impact those people had on this community, and it was beautiful; but comparison steals joy and I feel like that wisp of smoke that remains after the candle has been blown out; no one notices when that disappears.  Maybe I should have tried harder.  Maybe I should just disappear without saying goodbye.  Who would notice, anyway?

So I spend more time alone in my cabin or at my desk, pouring all my energy into what is left to do; the things I can control, the things that don’t require emotional investment, drinking coffee to stay awake, eating enough to get by, but trying not to feel too much.

My thesis is breathing down my neck and I wonder constantly if I will be able to do what I need to do when I need to do it. I can’t control the timeliness or response of the proposal reviewers and I can’t control the timeliness or response of the ethics committee and in the meantime I need to plan flights and housing and visas as I’m staying in Benin after ship departure to finish the research, but I can’t possibly guess the timeline, which means costs creep up by the day and my tuition bill is due this week and I wonder how on earth I’ll make it through the next few months of crazy expenses without anything coming in.

Anxiety lurks constantly. And then there’s the sciatic pain I’ve been experiencing the last few weeks; I’ve never had nerve pain before, and suddenly it’s clear to me why people get addicted to pain medication.  Running, biking, Frisbee, they all keep me sane in this place, they keep my moodiness in check, so to gradually be doing less and less of these things isn’t helping my current mental state.  The darkness whispers, what if this problem can’t be fixed? What if this is just a side effect of getting older and I’m destined to a life of pain and minimal activity for as long as I remain on earth? I won’t be able to join that running club in Boston I’m excited about, or play Frisbee ever again.  How will I stay healthy?

And then lurking even further back, that biopsy I had a few weeks ago that I haven’t gotten the results of… it’s probably nothing, I’m sure it’s nothing, but the darkness keeps sending me back to the what ifs, what if that’s how this story ends? What if I’m about to take a drastic turn that I’d never considered?

And I lie in bed in the darkness, exhausted all day but suddenly wide awake all night with fear clawing at my chest and tears dampening my pillowcase.  I just need to make it to morning; things are much less scary in the light.

~~

It feels incredibly raw to write and feel… but somehow it seems appropriate to share this, this day. This darkest day.  This day when the light of the world was extinguished.  The hope of a nation… I can only imagine the hopelessness, anguish, fear, desperation that was plaguing the followers of Jesus on this day.  This king that was supposed to come in glory and throw off oppression, who brought hope and healing and life and light to the world, lay dead in a tomb. 

How could God be dead? Is any of this even real? What do we do now?

They didn’t have the privilege I have.  I know what is coming.  And because I believe in the resurrection, I can feel deeply the pain and the sorrow and the separation of this day, knowing it isn’t forever.  And because of the resurrection, I can feel deeply of the pain and the fear of this season, knowing it isn’t forever. 

I’ve been practicing lectio divina throughout this season of lent; meditation and centering prayer focused around a specific piece of scripture each day.  Last weekend the scripture was the story of Lazarus… and what I realized this time was that Jesus knew what was going to happen, what he was going to do, that he would raise Lazarus for His glory, but in the meantime, he still grieved and felt deeply. He still entered in to the depths of pain and despair felt by Mary and Martha, to the point of weeping.  I get hard on myself for feeling deeply sometimes; for being anxious when I know and believe things will work out and all is for good and I trust and blah blah blah.  Emotions, tears, they feel illogical and a waste of time… but Jesus didn’t think so.  He entered in, and felt, and loved, and held, and wept. 

As He did again on the cross. The candle, blown out; the people, hopeless, and fear, and anxiety, and the darkness whispered and taunted and swirled and I am sure, it felt like drowning.

It was a dark day for the followers of Jesus, but light was coming.

It is a dark season for me, but light is coming.  The Hope of Glory. May it be so.




Saturday, April 1, 2017

Found at Sea.

Somehow March got away from me, and here we are, staring down April and suddenly I realize that two months from today I’m scheduled to walk down the gangway the final time. 

In those two months I’ll finish up some big projects.  I’ll teach a few more times.  I’ll travel across a few more countries for a quick visit to a surgical institute in Accra. I’ll write some project reports.  I’ll finish up the paper I’ve been working on. I’ll start my thesis.  I’ll finish recruiting course facilitators for Cameroon and hand it over to my replacement. I’ll write a manual on how to do my job (?) and hand that off, too.  I’ll play Frisbee a few more times and I’ll sit through a few more community meetings and I’ll pay my last monthly crew fees and I’ll stand in line for the last time in the dining room.  I’ll say until next time to old friends and new.

And I’ll say goodbye to the place where I found out who I am, what I’m made of, and what I’ve been created to do. 

I found a shirt at Old Navy of all places, that says it perfectly.



I love it.

I was found at sea. 

I will leave this place standing taller than when I arrived; more confident in who I am, in my gifts and my strengths, and most especially in my calling.  I feel slightly guilty that I’m not desperately sad; I’m excited about what is next and while I know this season is drawing to a close I do think I will be back at sea one day.  I know that I have been put on this earth to serve and to love and to learn and to be an agent of transformation for this continent and all within her. I’m excited to see how that unfolds, as it has already begun; blessings and favor, with a dream job and a place to live sorted long before I even started asking for them.   It’s a roller coaster of emotion; one minute, I’m frustrated and upset at something I wish I could change but I can’t… and a few minutes later, tears of awe and gratitude, because I’m just so darn happy.


It’s crazy, this life I lead.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

xKrissy

p.s. I'm facing some crazy expenses in the coming weeks, as I look at getting there and starting life up mostly from scratch in America.  If you can help, make a tax-deductible donation here.  Thank you, from the depths.