As I write this, Josh is sleeping soundly and peacefully and I’m wide awake fighting the ever-nagging jet-lag.
I’m jet-lagged because I just arrived home to Uganda one week ago from a month-long surprise trip home to Canada to see my family – a long journey that I made on my own because my mom has been sick for a few years now, and is not getting better. I needed to go. With Josh’s encouragement, this seemed like the right time to do it.
It’s been this weight that I’ve been carrying for so long and I never really feel settled no matter where I am. When I’m home in Uganda, I know it’s where I’m supposed to be right now and I love our life out here, but part of my heart also lies in Canada with my loved ones. And when I’m home visiting in Canada, I feel like I’ve changed so much, everything around me has too, and I don’t quite know how to fit in like I used to. This grows the longer I’m away. It’s just a feeling that is part of life for me now.
Apparently just days before my arrival, my mom was expressing to my dad how much she missed me and how she wished I was home with her. When my dad brought me home from the airport at night and I walked into my mom’s bedroom, the look on her face and the tears that followed were unforgettable.
It was time that I wanted to give to my family but also a time that I needed for myself.
Because of my mom’s illness, my parents have never been able to come and visit our world here in Africa. Whenever Josh and I have been able to go back to Canada for a visit, it’s been hard to make up that quality time that we’ve been missing out on and spend enough time with my sick mom. This is because we are naturally pulled in many different directions, with lots of precious people to see. It’s always a great time, but also a stressful one for us too. I’m a people pleaser. And I tend to try and make everyone around me happy, all the while being affected by the stress and anxiety of it all. But I also know, that no matter how much time I have with people, it’s never enough for me or for them. And it’s not going to be.
It was a stressful month where I felt drained and emotionally exhausted, but at the same time, a beautiful one where I felt filled-up by the love of my family and close friends.
A lot happened during my visit. And a lot that I didn’t expect.
Our tenant of almost 4 years trashed our condo and left suddenly without paying her rent. When I found out about this and went to help clean up the overwhelming mess, I cried in my dad’s arms, expressing that I didn’t have time for this. It was going to take days and days to fix everything up and that is not what I came to spend my time doing. But my dad helped me realize that maybe this is one of the reasons I was supposed to be back during this time. If I wasn’t around, my in-laws would have been all alone doing the work for us. Friends and family volunteered to help clean and paint, and as hard as it was, it ended up being a special time together where I felt ministered to through the grace and overwhelming generosity of Josh’s parents and all of the other family and friends that came to help us.
The main focus of my visit was my mom. I tried to keep most of my time clear to spend with her. I was able to take her to important appointments, advocate for her, lay in bed with her, talk with her, cook for her, clean the house for her, and just be near her. I was also able to spend precious time with my dad and be there for him by helping out my mom and helping around the house.
My family is dealing with some heavy stuff. We received some sad news about my mom’s condition during my visit. I was able to be there for her in person and for the rest of my family as we work through this together. It’s easy to feel hopeless, but I am seeing the Lord at work in the lives of my family.
I just wanted to carry the weight for a little while…
My FaceTime dates with Josh were mostly heavy with lots of tears and prayers. He reminded me of James 1: 2-4. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
That pure joy does not mean happiness. It just means thanking the Lord in the good times and the bad, trusting Him, and allowing Him to work through us to strengthen us.
As we prayed together, we thanked God for each of our struggles. We thanked Him that His hand is on all of it.
In our recent trip to Morocco, as we were sitting down for a rest, I saw a little old shop keeper, who was trying so hard to nicely stack the tissues and puff up the little bags of chips to make the display look nice among his dusty bare outdoor shop. He was so cute, that I was almost brought to tears and had to buy some tissues and chips, even though we didn’t need them. I feel a lot. I feel deeply. Those who know me well know this.
There is a part of me that feels heavy and burdened and sad. I feel up and I feel down. And the tears come and go. But it is well. I’m reminded of the deep deep love of Jesus and the way that He carries those burdens for us.
No matter what each of us is going through, lets not forget to thank God for those hard times, knowing that He is the one who will give us strength and courage and carry us through it all.