rounded the bend

The other day I was responding to a friend's email and found myself rambling. In a good way (hopefully). I was updating her on where I'm at and how I'm doing, and — as usual — writing it out was so good for me. I wanted to share bits and pieces (edited for context) here in this space, because I want you, my friends, to also know what's going on with me. And I already found some of the right words to articulate that, so I might as well start there. The first half of this year has been crazy-transitional... I've moved into an apartment, begun navigating a new "career", and started to get established in a new city. The changes I've faced in the past few years have been plentiful and overwhelming, and I feel as though I am finally exiting the limbo stage. I'm beginning to feel some stability and normalcy, like I haven't experienced in a very long time.

It's all still very new and it's a daily process of embracing my "new normal", but it feels good.

And it is no small thing for me to say that. Things haven't felt good in years, and so it's almost with trepidation that I acknowledge out loud that they do now. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for so long that it feels almost surreal to be out of the tunnel. Quite extraordinary actually...

My Africa trip brought a lot of much-needed healing. It was equally good and hard to be back again, but my time there was long enough for me to eventually begin feeling okay with where things are. With where I am.

A place that once felt like home no longer does, but it will always have my heart... and I'm more okay with that now. For so long I've grieved the loss of even that sense of home and belonging, and I am really starting to be okay with that having been a season. I'm not saying there isn't still grief in that — there probably always will be to some extent — but there is nothing to do but embrace it.

Africa is — and always will be — in the fabric of my DNA.

It is a huge part of what makes me who I am, and for that I will always love her and be drawn back to her.

I am a contributing author to a book that is being published in September. My section is about finding God in Him leading me to Africa as well as in Him leading me away from it. As always, it's about my wrestling... about my questions rather than my answers. While I'd written it prior to my trip, I rewrote it while I was there as I worked on it with my editor. It was certainly not a coincidence, and entirely reshaped the direction of the entire piece. And God really used it to work His healing in my heart. Just incredible...

My Africa trip also brought some much-needed stability. My roles with the two organizations I work with there were solidified and clarified even further. I am now the Brand & Communications Manager for Love Botswana Outreach Mission (Maun, Botswana) and the Communications Director for Bridge for Hope (Cape Flats, South Africa), working from here in the States with trips back there as needed (hopefully a couple times a year). I am assisting both ministries with branding initiatives, online presence development, design project management, and copy writing, and also getting to do some program architecture, which I love. I feel very blessed to be able to work for such incredible organizations, each at very different phases of development: Love Botswana will soon be celebrating their 25th year and Bridge for Hope is in their first. I absolutely love that, as each comes with unique challenges and joys, and I'm grateful I get to be involved in both.

For the first time in years, I have a steady income again. And for the first time in pretty much ever, I'm being paid an actual salary as opposed to raising financial support. It feels unimaginably freeing. Just this past week I was able to purchase a used car (thanks to my parents' assistance with a loan). It feels like such a gift to be mobile again. To have reclaimed a level of independence I haven't had in a very long time.

I've heard it said that in walking through grief, you don’t realize you are turning a corner toward healing until after you’ve rounded the bend.

Then you look back and see that somewhere, something changed, even though you may not be able to identify specifically what or when. That is exactly what happened with me. Right now, looking back, I see a bend in the road. And I have no idea how or exactly when I turned that corner, only that I did. And I find my heart open at last to the possibility of a different future.

I am not saying it was a passive process — that I just woke up one day and suddenly I am “better”. Because that’s not it at all, and I think “better” is somewhat of a mirage anyway. Walking through grief is active. Very active. And doing the hard work of actually walking through it means eventually you find yourself on the other side. Looking back. And seeing that you’ve rounded the bend.

It remains a road I am still walking, and one I will likely be walking for a long time to come. But now, just like way back when I moved to Africa — practically a lifetime ago — my heart is once again filled with a cocktail of hope and doubt, faith and foolishness, and as always, more questions than answers.

And it feels good. Really good.

Thank you for standing with me. For walking with me. For prayerfully carrying me through. I'm grateful for your love & friendship. Tell me about you. Where & how are YOU?