So, yes, I'd heard about it. I heard it was a "thing" but I didn't believe it was a "thing," per se.
The first Sunday I'd been back home from my time in Swaziland, Africa, I went to church. I hugged the people I had missed so much. I had great conversation with those I hadn't seen all summer. I sat in my favorite spot. I prayed harder than I usually prayed. I closed my eyes and worshipped with the same reckless abandonment that I always have. But as far away as Cold Spring, Minnesota is from Manzini, Swaziland... I could not shake the feeling that I, sitting there in my home church, was not home. In fact, I felt the furthest thing from it.
At one point during the service, some of the kids played a game where they had to unroll a roll of toilet paper the fastest. Feelings built up FAST for me and I just about got up to leave because I couldn't control the tears that were forming. All I could think about was the carepoint I'd just spent 12 days in and all I could picture was the stack of notebook paper next to the "toilet" (if you want to call it that) in the makeshift "outhouse" (again, if you want to call it that). Yes, you read that right. I started crying about toilet paper. Or lack of thereof, I should say.
I felt crazy walking out of church that day and in the days to follow. EVERYTHING I did felt selfish. Even something as simple as unpacking or having one of my favorite snacks frustrated me to the point of tears because it was so self-serving. I felt useless because anything I was doing couldn't compare to what I could and would be doing if I was back in Swaziland.
I'm doing better now, you could say. I'm praying through it and attempting to write it out instead of internalizing it and letting it all turn to tears. Hence the blog post. Everyday does seem to get a little easier, but then there's a tough one thrown in. Some days I'm speechless... Some days I start drafting 6 blog posts. It's just hard not to wish someone would've told me.
I wish someone would've told me that I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning thinking about the kids I got to know in Swaziland. Wondering where they are and what they're doing 7 hours ahead of the time zone I lay awake in.
I wish someone would've told me about the nights I'd move from my bed to the floor just because it feels too comfortable. Because I need to be closer to to the same earth those kids are walking on in some remote villiage in Africa.
I wish someone would've told me that every time I now go to my closet, all I really want to do is throw everything out. That my style will never be the same again because the maxi skirts and t-shirts I lived in during my time there now hold a whole new meaning.
I wish someone would've told me that every time people ask how my trip was, I would daze off for a solid five minutes and still struggle to utter the words: "It...was...uh...perfect. It was perfect." Only to be disappointed with my response because HOW? How do I even begin to explain the way Jesus shattered my heart during my time there?
I wish someone would've told me I'd want to punch a wall when the response is, "Oh Kenzie, you are such a good person!" or "You have such a big heart!" or "You are a brave soul!" Because I'm not. I'm not any better than Abraham and Sarah's doubts or Rahab's lifestyle. My heart is the size of everyone else's and I am anything but brave. What I am is real. I'm afraid. Of being where God wants me to be. Of not being where He wants me to be.
Truth be told, I didn't go to Africa because I have a heart bigger than anyone else's. I didn't go because I'm the next David defeating Goliath or a giant of any kind, really. I didn't go to Africa because I have an answer to the world's problems or because I have the resources to fix those problems. I went to love. That's it. Because God first loved us and it is the most valuable thing you and I have to offer everyone and anyone we come in contact with.
Is there a need to be met? Yes. There are so many needs. But caring for and tending to those needs should come out of a genuine love for people and Christ, not out of pity or a sense of obligation to this world. When our actions align with the desires of His heart, things change...people change.
So, yes. I wish someone would've told me. I wish I would've been warned. I wish I had known that the tears were beginning the healing process, not making me crazy...but I wouldn't change where my heart is right now for the world.
“It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us and to spread His light. This is the dream...and it is possible.” - Katie Davis