A little while ago I wrote HERE about the year of rest I was taking. That year ended in January. I've been thinking a lot about the past 12 months lately; how much I have learned and grown in that 12 months. And how, oddly, as January 1st hit, everything changed in a while way.
I started reading through my journal from last year. I had a goal of writing every day and I came so very close. I missed just a handful of days. I went all the back to last January - before the decision to stay in America. Amazing to read and remember the peace that I had at that time. Before my January permit was denied I wrote about how I had a strange feeling that my time in Kenya had come to an end. One of those entries said this:
I had another session with Dave this morning. He said “you're not telling them anything that they don't already know”. I wonder though. Are they going to think I'm giving up too easily?...
Then...another said this:
What a day…I'm actually feeling a strange peace about not being able to go back to Kenya...I'm looking forward to seeing where the Father leads me next. I keep going back to august. I know that for about $50 I could have bribed my way out of the whole situation. And none of this would be happening. I'd still be in Kenya...50 bucks…50 bucks could have avoided this. Instead, I paid $2000 for a flight home. And I've spent the past 4 months in the US wondering. Wondering if and when I can go back. Wondering why this happened. Wondering what the next steps are. 50 bucks and this would be different...50 bucks…and a sacrificed moral compass. No thanks. Not worth it. I have no regrets here. Not one. I did the right thing and I'm damned proud of that! I may not be welcome I Kenya anymore, but I can hold my head high knowing that the reason I'm not welcome is because I did the right thing. I didn't back down. I held my ground and stayed strong...As the past year went on, I see more and more of why I so desperately needed to take a year of rest. I took a job working in a warehouse for the Witmers at TheFireStore. I'll be honest. That was hard. Very hard. In my last job before Kenya I think that I was doing pretty well. Then I lived this amazing life in Kenya. Somewhere during that time, my old nemesis started showing up. Pride. I tried to fight it but it was always a stones throw away. Working in the warehouse was just what I needed. It allowed me time to reflect on WHO I AM, not WHAT I DO. WHO I live for and not WHAT I live for. The warehouse allowed me to blend into the background again. As the months went by, I moved to a couple new positions to finally end where I am now in Government Sales.
I took the year off of serving and being involved too. I helped with powerpoint at church and that was about it, really. I signed on to help lead Elijah House and I know that it was not the best thing but I had a hard time saying no. It's why I pulled away so much towards the end. Not being involved is hard for me. If you've known me since high school (when I started being a little less shy), you know that I like to be involved. I love being busy. In the past 12 months I've learned that I'm actually a huge introvert. I have some outgoing tendencies, but Im an introvert through and through. And, for perhaps the first time, I've begun to embrace that.
The other morning it hit me as I was thinking through my busy week. I needed a year of resting. I needed it because i finally realized that I wasn't taking care of myself very well. I wasn't even close to diligent about taking a real day off. Believe me, you want to see burnout in missionaries? Watch the ones that do not take a real sabbath. You'll see it in them long before they see it in themselves. I started to think about when a parent corrects a child. Correction comes from a heart of love and compassion. It says "I want what's best for you". That's a consequence. Not a punishment. Punishment says "you did something wrong and now you pay". In my case, the consequence was not being involved. But now...now I see the joy in even that. I see the love in that. I see how, after 12 months of downtime, I have come alive again. I said that after January 1st things changed and they did. It was like a switch was thrown and I became a live again. More alive than I had been in a long time. A feeling of passion returned. A fuller identity was restored. A year of staying low was difficult but oh so worth it in the end.
I'm excited for where this year is going now. I said goodbye to one chapter of life this past year. And I've welcomed a new chapter with new life.