I’ve become a bit of a world traveler these days. A citizen of the world, if you will.
Not really sure how it happened.
I’ve now lived five and a half months in another country.
There are some struggles to living half of your life in one place and half in another.
For starters, prepaid cell phone plans are my jam. My passport is a regular purse item. The world clock on the iPhone is pretty much a must. I switch between being a person who has goats to being a person who drives a minivan.
I sat down last month and made a tentative plan for the next year of my life (I know, I know, God is laughing…) and almost every month had two options: (a) what I would do if I was living in Kenya and (b) what I would do if I was living in the US. It was overwhelming.
Then the other day Sarah, our wonderful cook at Chemi Chemi, asked me, “Are you excited about going home?”
I stood there trying to figure out how to answer her.
“I am home,” was my response. It shocked even me.
I went on to explain…when I left for Kenya in February, half of me was filled with excitement and possibility and the other half felt like I was losing all the people I value. I was ready to see what new adventures the Lord had in store in Africa, but I was so sad that it meant giving up precious moments with the people I love in the US…birthdays I wouldn’t be there to celebrate, weddings I would miss, the birth of my new niece that I wouldn’t get to see, …
Georgia is my home. Why? Because so much of my life has been lived between those state lines. So many adventures and smiles have happened there. The people I love are there…almost all of my friends and family that, since time is not infinite, I want to spend any moments I can with them. In Georgia I experienced love, heartbreak, and a world of other emotions that helped me to become who I am. Georgia is where I first learned that the Lord loves me, and it’s where I first met people who showed me what that looks like in the lives we bustle through every day.
So, yes, going back makes my heart full. I can’t wait to hug these people that I’ve only spoken to through the phone or over Skype. I can’t wait to not just see wedding pictures, but to actually be there as my friends take one of the biggest steps in their lives. I can’t wait to eat Chickfila, and to worship on the front porch in Athens, and to place my seat in the line of beach chairs with seven of my closest friends as we start new books and bury our toes in the sand.
But am I sad to leave Kenya? Of course.
Kenya is also my home. I have another family here. I have an entirely other set of friends. I have people that I dance in the kitchen with, ones who put up with my singing loudly in the car, and ones who notice when I’m not in church on Sunday. This is where I felt called to go my freshman year of college, never having heard the Lord spoken so clearly or loudly before. It is where these beautiful people captured my heart. It is where the Lord called me back to last year. It is where I have stumbled ungracefully through trials and learned great lessons about myself and about who the Lord is.
So leaving here, for whatever amount of time I do, I will also miss many things. I will miss weddings. I will miss classes with the pastors I love like brothers and sisters. I will miss moving the chairs on Sunday mornings so there is more room to dance. I’ll miss my favorite Kenyan foods like chapati and sukuma. I will miss hearing Stella sing praise as she washes the dishes. I will miss the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen, and I will miss the sound of beating drums and the calm flow of life.
It’s easy to feel fractured when you have two homes…like they are rock ’em sock ’em robots competing for your time and attention. You cannot fully experience one without, in a sense, abandoning the other. And it makes it harder to live fully engaged in either place, because you’re always feeling the pull of the other.
But then I remembered the beauty of this simple word: abide.
And Jesus says to me, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.”
Live in my love, he tells me. Make your home in my love.
It really is that simple isn’t it? My home is where He is. And He is with me always.
Breathing in this truth is what makes me okay that I don’t know where or in what country I’m going to spend the next year of my life. Well, let’s be real…I don’t even know that for sure about tomorrow. But I know He will be there. And that is where I want to be.
“Abide in me and I will abide in you.”
That is the best home I could ever ask for. To live in His grace, His truth, His mercy, His love.