The air is beautifully cold and I can feel its richness as I take my first lung full. It’s what I’ve been waiting for. Fresh and cold. It makes a part of me that has laid dormant, come alive. It’s home and I can feel my God singing His love song over me. I sneaked back for a visit to break up our 10 months in Guinea to escape my floating boat and catch up with friends, family, roast chicken and some cooler air.
I guess maybe it sounds funny though, that a trip home should leave me wondering who I am, but it did. I tasted all the things that have made me, me and found the familiarity both rich and unsettling. I took cliff walks, trampled the moor and giggled endlessly with my nieces and nephews but I can’t ignore the unsettled feeling it brings. Who am I? My conversations don’t always fit well and somehow I found myself often feeling like I was floating on the edge of all that was going on. It’s nothing to do with anyone or anything being wrong… it’s just a weird clash in my depths – in the part of me that wants to belong… because it feels like I should but I know the cost of living somewhere else means I don’t – not totally anyway. It’s an unexpected part of going home, and it set me on a journey of equally unexpected discovery.
You see, if who I am depends on who others think I am, it’ll never work. I’ve tried it and all I do is end up in a tangle of trying to fit into the expectations of others and end up diluting who I really am. I fought it for a few days but came to a place where I realized it was ok to be me. Not only that – but I must be me, I must embrace who I am, I must not waste my time being someone else or who I once was. Being away from my floating home made me miss the intimacy with Jesus that I find there. I wish I could grab hold of it elsewhere, but honestly, I struggle to. My love for God, creator of the world, the one who is constantly in the process of making me whole, who pursues me endlessly, desperately wanting me to become more of who He made me to be, is central to who I am and without it, I feel empty and at un ease. I don’t feel fully me. I don’t want anything else to define who I am and may be that’s why ‘going back’ is unsettling. It reminds me of who I have been and somehow gets in the way of who I am.
As I gathered myself to return, my heart was full of thanks. Thankful for time to breathe and be and treasure all that is home. I listened to the birds chirping in the trees and took in one last eye full of spring flowers. I looked up at the moon and breathed, deeply. I tried to take it all in and wondered if anyone else had even noticed the beauty in front of me? Does it hold as much beauty when you see it every day? Somehow I don’t think it possibly can. I let it fill my heart and it was like I didn’t want it to end, like I wanted to hold onto these moments at home forever… and yet, I couldn’t wait to get back and be part of an adventure that is so much bigger than me.
No wonder then, when I heard of one of our patients and his experience of love so moving. He was sitting on a chair having had his post op wound check when his nurse noticed he seemed reluctant to get up and go. She asked him if there was anything else she could do for him and so he explained. He had been so amazed at the way he had been treated when he had his facial tumour removed and explained how the nurses had loved him and taken such good care of him. He shared that he had heard of our God but now that he’d seen how much love we had and what God looked like, he wanted to know more. Now he’d seen how much love we had, he wanted to know more. Isn’t that beautiful? Oh… it brings tears to my eyes because that’s exactly why I’m here… I long for people to meet my incredible God who is so good. The One who gives me Hope. The One who gives me identity, the One who made me, me. And it’s then I start to realize again: this is who I am. This is where I belong. I love this place. I love that my days are full of mangos, life transforming surgeries and friends from all around the world who speak love and life and get excited about this crazy place as much as I do. I love it and know that this is where I was made to be… for now.
I’m so thankful to know that because it releases me from being anyone else. It helps me embrace who I am and be left satisfied, not longing to be someone else. It releases me to love and to celebrate my friends and family for who they were created to be. And even if not everyone knows who I really am inside, I know there’s a God who really knows me, cos He made me. And there isn’t anything more precious than that… it’s been an unexpectedly beautiful journey of discovery.
Love you precious friends and so happy to be known by you and to know you.