I wonder if sometime you'd tell me what it's like to stay--to be grounded, to keep roots in one place instead of ripping them out over and over in thick, messy clumps. In the meantime, I'll tell you what it's like to leave: it hurts like hell. There's nothing romantic about feeling the solid ground torn from under your feet and having sown in your chest a constant overwhelming ache that leaves you on your knees sobbing in the shower, begging for the pain to ease. What have I done? you ask. And, My power is made perfect in weakness is the reply day after heavy day.
That heart-wrenching walk out the door is paramount, and yet, I still wonder what life would be like if I hadn’t left. What if I hadn't divided and folded my entire existence into a suitcase and a 46-liter backpack and headed south? Would I be less of a girl (the word woman still sticks in my throat) than I am now? Would I be weaker, more dependent, more unsure? Or would I be stronger, more independent, and more sure?
For 17 years my soul searched for home and the second it left, it realized it'd been at home all along. The other night I skyped with my German professor—she’s more my friend and mentor than professor, really—and I told her about my life and she told me about hers and I’m so dang far from home but I’ve never felt closer. Picturing my life in the future isn't something I've ever been much good at, but becoming an adult in Africa certainly wasn't part of those imaginings. They say truth is stranger than fiction and "they", whoever they are, are right. 17 felt like a hundred years, a thousand fragments stitched together into a lifetime.
Still, I don’t think I’d have it any other way. Tonight I blew out the candles and I didn't make a wish. Life is ferocious and ugly and dismal and hard and messy but without the downs there couldn't be the rich and joyful and dazzling ups. I miss home like you wouldn't believe but all that is left in me is gratefulness. My Jesus has helped me through these past 18 years and I'm confident he won't ever stop helping me through the next 18 years.
My cup overflows.
(But I still wish you were here)