A year ago today I landed back on American soil after spending the summer in the bush of Northern Uganda. I couldn’t wait to hug the necks of my parents, but my heart also was in shreds knowing when my feet hit the ground I would be 7,000 and something miles away from my Acholi family. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from last summer.
I had no idea that when my feet hit American soil, I would be in for some of the hardest days I have ever experienced. Dark days. I can’t really put it into words exactly, and if I could fully express it you’d stop reading this post and think I was crazy. I felt like I lost a part of me. Culture shock was hard. Yes, I know I have grown up here, but I had lived two totally different lives. I missed people who I had no way of checking in on. I put down my Bible because it hurt too deeply. It hurt too deeply to mourn that life. This emotionally driven heart of mine shut down. I became numb. I felt like robo girl. Walking through life without it ever touching me. I spent months like this. Totally numb. I had no idea that the next year of my life would bring some of the darkest, most painful days and experiences, and yet bring me to some of the most beautiful realizations.
Here I am a year later. I still miss my Acholi family EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. But here are two major things I have learned in the past year…
- The Lord is so patient. Like I said, I put down my Bible after coming back. It all hurt. & guilt wrecked havoc on my life for a little while for doing it. I felt like a fake, like a hypocrite. I had just spent a summer trying to show the love of Christ and how good it is to people and here I am being unable to open the very book I was telling them to cling to. Unable to utter a prayer. And there were days where my guilt got me and I said “okay, I’m going to read my Bible today because I know I’m suppose to do this”. And I would try. And I would open and close it quickly. I say all that to say this. The Lord was never angry at me. The Lord was never standing by a calendar putting x’s over the days that I didn’t read The Word. Did He want me to? Yes, because He wanted to show up for me. But was he angry or disappointed in me? No. He waited for me. Because He knew my heart. He wasn’t screaming why at me. He was waiting. Waiting on me. Placing people in my life that would help heal me, that would gently push me to Him. The Lord is patient. He knows our hearts and He waits more patiently and longer than we can fathom because He cares.
- This next point is about to sound ludicrous. It’s even going to sound anti-Christian. Seriously, here is your upfront warning. This is something the Lord has been showing me in the past few months and drove it home today. Today, during my time with the Lord, I journaled this…..(again, PLEASE BEAR WITH ME. I PROMISE IT’S NOT ANTI-RELIGIOUS). “I don’t want to lead others to Christ & Jesus. I don’t want to live in a foreign country as a missionary & Jesus. I don’t want to write blogs & the Lord use them to impact the Kingdom & Jesus.” WHAAAATTT??? YOU WROTE THAT?? IS THAT LIKE AN ABOMINATION OF EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER CLAIMED TO WANT AND BE? Yes & no. All of that is good things. All of those are things that impact the Kingdom. Each are things that matter and make a difference. So yes. But no, it’s not. It’s exactly who and what I want to be. Because the line that followed those three was this “I just want Jesus“. I don’t want to be known by many for my faith….I just want Jesus. I just want Him. Whether that means I’m surrounded by people that I can point to Christ or that I’m isolated with only Him to cling to. I don’t want Jesus plus anything…even anything good. I just want Jesus. Period. The end. A few weeks ago, our Pastor did a series on Revelation. Honestly, Revelation has been a book that scares me. It shouldn’t. But it has in the past. Just keeping it real. But he went through the Letters to the Seven Churches. I found the whole series incredible. (Thank you Pastor Nathan for seeking the Lord and preaching Truth.) Today, after writing the above in my journal, the Lord led me back to the letter to the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2. The Lord commends the church in Ephesus for it’s diligence and endurance in speaking the truth. In staying with true doctrine. Which is awesome. He tells them he knows they can’t stand evil and have protected their teachings. That they are enduring patiently for His name. Incredible right. They are doing good things here. But then he says this “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4). Here they are doing incredible things, good things, but yet the Lord says they have lost their first love. The love that matters. The only thing that matters in the end. You can do all the deeds and works in the world, but the Lord says “STOP TURN BACK TO JUST LOVING JESUS” if that’s not your whole world. They have to turn back to their love of Christ. This is what I mean when I say I don’t want those other things. I just want my first love. I just want my Jesus. DON’T LET GOOD THINGS TAKE THE PLACE OF THE BEST THING. Jesus, only Jesus.
Those are just two things that the Lord has taught me over the past year. Two things that I am so thankful for. Thank you Jesus for my time with the Acholi people…..& thank you Jesus for my time, though sometimes dark, over the past year. You’re such an incredible Father. I want you, Jesus, only you.