I have been back in the states for 4 weeks and it has been a whirlwind of a transition. Reverse culture shock, I must say, has been much worse than the initial culture shock of going from America to Africa. I’m not sure how to describe the exhaustion of this transition except to say that it has been challenging mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
For one, it was difficult to say goodbye to the community of believers from all over the world who became my family for 6 months. While I was eager to see friends and family back in the states, the ache of goodbyes is never easy. Emotionally, I have been up and down as I try to figure out how I fit into life back here in the states. Physically, I’ve been trying to re-adjust and figure out some stuff going on with my body that may or may not have to do with being in Africa.
Spiritually, it has been very hard to enter back into a culture where the spirit of religion, apathy, and self-preservation reign after spending 6 months on a continent where material poverty is common yet spiritual hunger and awareness is so alive that it is practically tangible. My heart became burdened for the American Church to experience the unfettered heart of worship that the African Church has. And I am grateful to be here and re-engage with my beautiful church family (and Church family) and am praying for an awakening in the American church. But that is a subject for another day. 😉
A friend from church approached me the other day to see if I was doing okay and half-jokingly said that on my first Sunday back, I looked like a soldier returning from war who was suffering from PTSD. I laughed and sincerely thanked him for checking in, because I felt like he discerned the difficulty of the transition well. In YWAM, they say that in the course of the 6 months of DTS (our missions program), we absorb about as much information and growth as we would in seven years of church attendance.
That’s a long time. And perhaps that is why I don’t fully know how to reconcile the past six months with the life here that seems to pretty much be right where I left it. Except it’s not where I left it. Because I have changed and I know the people around me have changed. Before I left, I had a job, a car, and a place I had called home for 2 years. I don’t have any of those things right now.
But the more I travel, the more I realize that home is the people around you rather than a place. And I definitely have people around me who feel like home.
I’ve been staying with my AMAZING parents who are loving me well, exercising soooo much grace with me in the ups and downs of transition, and are so generously providing food and so many other things for me, which has been an immense blessing and privilege in this season. I have also gotten to catch up with some great friends, am still planning to catch up with many more, and have even made some new friends since being back. A friend graciously loaned me a car, so I had wheels for first few weeks and am trusting God to provide day by day in the weeks to come. God is faithful!
Many people have asked me the “What’s next?” question, and my honest answer is that I do not know at this point. “What are you doing?” is a far easier question to answer. Because what I’m doing right now is reading the Word and praying to hear God’s voice, interceding for friends here and in Africa, sending emails and praying into a couple of options for further ministry and training since I feel 100% called into full-time ministry and missions, and trying to spread the word about Re:Generation, a new prayer blog that I just launched.
Right now I am waiting on the Lord to reveal the “next step” to me and am faithfully trusting and seeking Him in the meantime, because that is my charge and aim, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Nothing else matters if I am not seeking Him. I must say, I have been discouraged and some days are harder than others. I very much feel like I’m in a season that lacks a lot of definition. But I am confident that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing in seeking God and diving into His Word, seeking to love others well, sharing the testimonies of what God has done and is doing in my life, and committing to pray daily and post prayer to encourage and inspire others to seek God’s heart too.
Sometimes I forget that God sees my heart and I have to remember that God does not want my striving or my attitude of “doing stuff for Him.” He just wants me to enjoy Him and bring glory to Him as I fall more in love with Him! Some days I feel very out of place. But I know that God is faithful and I need to stay close to Him rather than running to friends or activities to sustain me. God is the only One who satisfies us completely!
I really appreciate your prayers and support and welcome your continued prayers in this season. There are many of you who I would still love to see, so please feel free to email or give me a call if you want to get together. (The only reason I haven’t been more on top of setting up times to see people is because my access to transportation varies from day to day.)
I love you all and am SO thankful to have such quality people in my life who love and support me and are invested in what God is doing in and through me. You all are incredible friends and I am beyond blessed by each of you. Thank you for journeying with me. Our God is amazing!!