Sunday, 4 June 2017

Ten Months

I wish I could say after ten months being back in Australia that I had adjusted to life here. In some ways I have, I mean, I know what side of the footpath to walk on without being bumped into again. But deep down I know that life is passing and not getting any better.

The days somehow slip away faster in Australia than they did on the ship. I barely know where the past months have gone and what I have spent my time doing. I feel in some ways like time is in fast forward yet other days have stretched out much longer than I would have cared for. These days are usually the lonely ones when my sister is at work and I'm home, plodding around the house with no one to talk to but the plant on the window sill or the neighbour's cat if she is around. Of course there's always someone at the other end of the phone, but some days I just don't feel like talking and I'm too tired to go anywhere. 
Other weeks my time has been full. Full of work, full of study, full of looking after other people's children, full of keeping the house clean and stocked with food. In the busy days I'll sometimes feel full of purpose and others days like I'm just filling in time waiting for the next thing to happen. 
But what is next? What am I doing in this strange season of waiting? What can I find here to feel passionate about?
I would say that I'm surviving but not thriving. What would it take for me to thrive here, I ask myself every so often. I haven't come up with an answer yet. I might have grown out of this town. It doesn't seem to fit me anymore. I feel like I could slip away unnoticed, except for my family. They have been my roots through this whole replanting. As for me, I feel like I've been harshly pruned for a new season but no buds have grown yet. The losses from the ship; my community, a job I adored, single friends to take adventures with, new places to explore, is more grieved all these months later than the day I walked down the gangway for the last time.

The one thing I can do is hold onto the hope I know that I have in Him. He sees me, He knows me and He loves me and that will have to be enough.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Days That Seem Dark

“No matter how long we’ve walked with God, we will still have days that seem dark. In those times rely on who He is.” Beth Moore

I found this quote in my journal this week when I opened it to write some New Year goals and dreams for the year. I was struck with how appropriate those words are for me in this season. The darks days seem to stretch on and on, with definite glimpses of light and beauty but always a shadow of darkness.
It feels as though leaving Mercy Ships has stripped me of my purpose. I lived and breathed Africa and her people, meeting new friends and having adventures. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things to love about being back in Australia and around my family, but I’m a different person now and won’t ever fit back into the place I left. The place that I have left has changed too. My community has dispersed over the last six years and is no longer as it was.
To make matters worse for me, I am single in a world of married women who have become mums in the last few years. So not only do I not fit into this Aussie culture, I’m husbandless and childless. Talk about not fitting in. When I’m looking for projects to occupy my time outside of work, my mum friends are run off their feet. Am I the only one in the world with this dilemma?

I recently watched the documentary The Insanity of God created by Open Doors and had the opportunity to hear Nik and Ruth Ripken speak at a church in town. I highly recommend watching the documentary or reading the book (although I haven’t read it yet) because their story and the stories they tell of persecuted Christians across the world are absolutely amazing. One thing that Nik said the night that I heard him speak was, when the persecuted Christians were told by authorities to stop praising God and gathering together, they knew that if they obeyed the authorities, the enemy would win, so they decided to do the opposite. Despite the fact that we live such free lives in Australia, the principle can still be applied here. I felt encouraged to turn my defeated, negative feelings around and not let the enemy win, to choose joy and thankfulness in all circumstances. I’ve had to practice this a lot since coming home. I made a list of things I’m thankful for:

For praying family and friends
For the ability to grow plants and nurture them and see them flourish
For good coffee, all the time
For being able to walk around home in my pyjamas with bed-hair for as long as I want
For having a bedroom and bathroom to myself
For having a car to drive around in and not count kilometres travelled
For being able to eat whenever and whatever I want
For being able to cook fresh foods and add lots of spice to my meals
For having windows that open
For hearing the birds out my window
For warm weather
For electrical storms, hearing the thunder, seeing the lightening and smelling and feeling the rain
For yummy cheese
For a job that pays good money
For a good team of nurses to work with
For family close by
For friends that include me in their daily lives
For being able to light candles in my house
For a washing machine that I can use any time of the day or night and there is no one waiting after me to finish
For a clothes line in the sunshine
For FaceTime and across the world face to face conversations
For ship friends in Brisbane
For my little home, all the space and comfort of having a place to call my own and be at peace

I’m waiting, semi-patiently, for a few new opportunities to open up in the new year but in the meantime I have to keep going back to the reminder in that quote. I don’t know where God has me, where He is leading me, but I have to trust and rely on who He is, to choose joy and thankfulness and for now that is enough.

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isa 42:16

Three of my little lights


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