I’M GOING TO AFRICA FOR THE SUMMER! I have the amazing opportunity to work alongside Four Corners Ministries as an intern in Uganda all summer! (If this was a Lizzie McGuire episode, the cartoon me would be standing with her mouth open and the thought bubble “WOW GOD!!” above me). I can’t even wrap my mind around it! I’LL BE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD!!! This small town girl…SAY WHAT??! But wow, God is good….and somewhat crazy. So I titled this blog “Healing for Africa”….and I know…you’re probably thinking…’wow, how vain of her to think she is going to go over to Africa and just be the greatest gift and solve all their problems and be their total healing’…let me be the first to tell you…I’M NOT…nothing will be of any good this summer except the Lord through me. But I did choose this title very intentionally….
This past December, I found myself in a hospital bed with wires coming off of me from everywhere. I felt more like a surge protector with a thousand things plugged into me rather than a person. I found myself repulsed by light or noise or movement. I found myself terrified as doctors threw around words like brain clots, blood clots, and aneurisms. I found myself weak…both physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
But let me not haste this post, (PS. if you aren’t one for lots of words…I’M SORRY). Last May I found myself living what I thought was PERFECTION. I had just received a job offer from the most amazing school on the planet (seriously), my best friends Betsey and Morgan were in my town, I was getting to move to Auburn, my family was rocking along, and most of all, I was dating a boy that I thought hung the stars (the moon is reserved for my daddy…he hung it…can you say daddy’s girl????). Life was GREAT! Seriously. I thought that this was it. This is what my life would look like, and I looked at it and I was happy…I was glad. It was a good life. My version of the BEST life.
*INSERT THE MONTH OF JULY* It was like war broke out. There was stress on my family with things changing, there was stress for trying to somewhat figure out how to begin my first year of teaching, there was the fact that my friends were miles away from me, there was an empty trailer that I was trying to make become a home, and worst of all….there was a day where my heart and everything I had my hopes in, was gone…aka my heart got broken…aka BREAK UP.
Can I be real honest….Can I tell you that last semester was the hardest few months of my life…The most lonely…The most moments of worthlessness, of giving up, of pain…there were more tears shed then than I think it would take to drown an elephant. In trying to find words to describe just those times, the word that constantly comes up is darkness….total darkness. I felt so lost…as if I was underwater and I had lost my bearings and didn’t know what way was up. For a while I tried to find up, and then when the waves kept violently thrashing my heart around, I just gave up all together. I just let the darkness drown me out. GOOD THING I SERVE A GOD THAT SAYS “NO WAY JOSE”.
For several months leading up to Thanksgiving break, I had been telling my mom that I was just exhausted. That I knew I was busting my tail at my job, but that something was just off. I was way too tired for how I should have been. I was so worried about myself that I even scheduled bloodwork for when I was off for Thanksgiving break….here’s a little Ander 101…I DO NOT DO NEEDLES! OH MY NO! They are from Satan himself, I am sure. So for me to willingly, without my mom threatening me in her mom voice, say I needed to have bloodwork done, my parents knew something was off. So the first day of my Thanksgiving break, I had the bloodwork….funny thing…I would be back in that office in less than 24 hours due to intense pain in my head. Within the next week, I would see a neurologist, get shots, get crazy amounts of pills to take, and somehow walk like a zombie through the Thanksgiving break with my family. (Don’t ask me anything about the big football games this year…Auburn vs. Alabama, FSU vs. Florida, or Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss…cause I can’t tell you a thing…physically there, but SOOO not there mentally…and yes, I say that because it’s like a sin to not be able recall every play of those games in the South.)
The next Monday morning I would find myself unable to form words in response to my mother on the phone, which led to my mother coming to the rescue, and the next morning I would find myself with a hospital band placed around my wrist and a room with my name on it. I can’t tell you much else about that time because I honestly don’t remember, which I am forever thankful to God for because from what my parents said, it was a lot of tears and pain. I found myself there for days and then found myself confined to the couch at my house for a month. Because of the swelling of my brain and inflammation, I lost my ability to walk. Here I was, a girl who spends her days being momma, nurse, counselor, shoulder to cry on, juice opener, teacher, and friend to 90 kids and I couldn’t even make it to the bathroom by myself. ** I want to take a minute and put in here that thinking about all of this again leaves me with tears running down my face at the complete blessing that my parents were and are to me. They showed me so much of Christ’s sacrificial, selfless love in these weak moments and I could never tell them thank you enough**
I cannot possibly put into words the emotional wreckage I was dealing with. Of being so helpless. But hey…when you hit bottom and you are terrified beyond belief…sometimes that’s the only way God can get your attention. AND HE GOT MINE.
*Jumping back* A few summers ago, summer of 2014, I had just come back from my second international mission trip and I found myself at New Camp. (Heaven is going to be something like this place….it’s one of a kind.) It’s the youth camp that my church, Bethany Baptist, has been attending for years. I found that whole week that I was having this conversation and sometimes battle with God about things I knew he was calling me to do…AKA mission work. I didn’t know what he meant by it, I just knew he had called me to some form of it. So with sweaty palms, a racing heart, and a completely terrified soul I stood infront of my youth group and told them God had placed this calling on my life and I was telling them because I was terrified and if I didn’t tell them, I might let myself slip out. Can I tell you that I would have….Had I not had every comfort, every thing my hope had been in, ripped away from me last July I would have let this calling fade away. But God is a jealous God. He is a God that won’t let me settle for anything less than the plans He has for me. & while all the things I had, the boy, the friends close, the comforts, were blessings….I would have so easily allowed them to become something I hid behind. Because they were comfortable. But God tosses comfort to the wind and says “follow me and I’ll blow your mind”.
So last semester, Africa, a place that I had sat in a small South Carolina cafe a few years back and told my family and grandparents I would one day go to which they panicked (God brought them around in his timing), began to pop up EVERY WHERE. In random books I read, in random conversations I had, in things my kids would say, on social media, in stores…literally everywhere…and all last semester I fought it because honestly I WAS SCARED TO DEATH….I STILL AM.
**back to December**And then I found myself with wires everywhere….I found myself stuck on the couch with legs that didn’t work…I found myself in a ball crying in complete fear like I had never experienced before…& I told God “okay. I quit because I’m not strong enough. You are.” I told him that I was scared, but He had proven his pursuit of my heart was never-ending. And so I told God….God if you heal these legs of mine….these legs of mine will stand on African soil. These legs will take me to Africa. I promise.
And so…..no, I’m not the healing for Africa…only Jesus is….but I know one thing for sure, and that is Jesus healed me for Africa.