Sunday, July 12, 2009

To Grow Where I Am Planted

It’s been a month. I haven’t written. I’ve sat down countless times to write this post only to find myself at a loss for words. I begin just to delete. I can’t tell you what I’m feeling because honestly, I don’t know.

The things I do know are this… I miss Haiti more, not less, every second of every day. I can’t just lie down to sleep in my bed because when I do the sleep never comes. I miss the frogs and the dogs and the muted Creole voices outside my window. 90% of every day I feel so overwhelmed I want to scream. I walk down the street, where I pass people whose eyes are glued to the ground. There is no bonjou, no good morning. I am invisible, after being stared at everywhere I went for the last 9 months. These are the things I know…

The things I know are this…I’m not the person I used to be. Last week I faced, for the first time since being home a tiny black baby. I’m not sure how I didn’t anticipate the effect. My palms became sweaty and my hands shook. It was a reaction I instantly recognized. I’ve seen it in numerous faces of parents, both biological and adoptive, who have left their babies in Haiti. My only instinct was to grab that baby and hold on for dear life. When I laid my children in their cribs and walk away, I didn’t just leave their faces. I left a part of me, the very best part. It is the me that was brought out by the precious lives I have encountered. It is the person brought alive by a zeal I was created for. Once you’ve lived as that person it is unimaginable to not be living surrounded by that passion. Unimaginable, inconceivable, and yet somehow it is necessary. I miss the person I was in Haiti and the lessons I learned so easily. I miss the voice of God speaking so clear I had no question as to what He was telling me to do. These are the things I know…

I dreaded the day I would leave Haiti. I watched the hours slip away before my eyes. I knew it would be horrible and still it hit harder that I ever imagined. I walked onto a plane in the land that I loved and walked off in a place I had never been. The place I returned to was not my home. This was not the place I remembered. These things were not the things I once lived for. It couldn’t be possible. The people rushing by made me so dizzy that it took all I had to stumble my way to a seat and just collapse. I couldn’t move. At that moment I would have given any of the things I once thought important to wake up and find it all a dream. To realize that it was all a mistake. I prayed fervently that getting on that plane would have been obedience enough and that God would look upon me and see that I did what He wanted and maybe that would be sufficient. That He would decide that since I trusted enough to follow him when it was so impossibly hard, He would just take the pain away. At any second a perfectly made up woman, with her every hair in it’s place and her American Airlines uniform crisp and pressed would walk up to me and tell me that my seat on their next flight to Port Au Prince was ready and waiting. Instead, as I sat on the airport bench the announcement was made that my next flight had been delayed, just long enough for me to miss my connection. The tears I had been holding back began to fall. Why on earth would He make it even harder? What in the world could I possibly be expected to learn? In a moment where I was so broken, it felt like He was just pushing too far! I cried out! “God there is only so much I can take! Can’t you just let me be?” Silence… 9 months of His voice being clear as day and when I truly needed him most, silence. I was sitting there, feeling sorry for myself and to be honest, as angry as I had ever been, when a dear friend, who knew I was traveling home that day come online and asked me how the events were going, in the way that we humans are so good at, I proceeded to throw myself a pity party and whine about how horrible the day had been. I told her about my delay and missing my connection. I would have to stay the night in Atlanta and of course my bags were well on their way to Minneapolis. She signed off only to return a few minuets later to tell me that my flight for the next morning from Atlanta to Minneapolis had been arranged and that I had a hotel room near the airport set up when I arrived that night. He was back. Not to disregard Miranda and her amazing generosity, but God had once again, provided all I would need. He used her to reassure me that He had not in fact abandoned. While I had turned my face, I was always in His hands. The ways he speaks to me here are much different than the ways He spoke to me there, but He is speaking all the same.

I miss the conversation like relationship we had in the past year, it is such a comfort not to have to search out the meaning of what God is trying to tell me, but I also understand that life without trials is life without faith. And the sweetness of faith is what this relationship is built upon, a faith that is growing every day by the trials that I encounter. I was incredibly blessed to be able to be involved, just a week after I got home, in a mission trip to Fergus Falls, Minnesota. I realize that sounds unconventional. A trip involves going somewhere and I live in Fergus Falls. I myself was fairly unimpressed, and honestly, a little prideful at the idea. I had just come from Haiti, a 3rd world country, why would I waste my time going on a “mission trip” to the town where I live. God don’t you know I belong somewhere else! Don’t you know I can do bigger things than this!? Once again how wrong I was. God put me in the only place I could have been that week to learn the lesson that I will rely on every second of every day, for this season of my life. During worship one night I heard the voice again, quickly and softly he gave me these words, “You are to grow where you are planted!” Wow! When He whispered those words to me I went weak in the knees. Here I was, walking around with my head held high because I was being so “good”. People, look at me, I followed him to a country that I didn’t want to go to, then I followed him back again. I trusted him for my finances and my safety. Of course I could never have a problem with faith. But here I was, falling back into the role of the stubborn child, throwing a fit, because Dad wouldn’t give me what I wanted. The head held high fell face first on the floor. The pride that I had let build and build lay shattered and broken.

Leaving Hilltop Church after that week was almost as hard as leaving the fellowship of Haiti. I was back in the real world once again. I couldn’t “hide” in the church forever. Those late nights of praise and worship which filled me so much could not be the basis of my Christianity. I don’t believe because of how I feel, I believe because of the faith He has given me, not in what I see or touch, but in what He has taught me. The lesson is ongoing and it forever will be, but I chose to make it difficult or not. The attitude I have and the choices I make lead me where I will go. I am in his hands, forever and always, I know that because of the promises he has made. But the way I wander between them is up to me. While his face is always upon me, I chose to turn toward it and soak him in, or to face the darkness and try and make it on my own.

Though today I face him and I know I am safe, I still have many struggles. Just because I am determined to do what I need to do no matter where I am, it doesn’t mean I don’t long for the place I love. The physical pain I feel in my stomach is a constant. The homesickness for my passion is alive from the moment I wake up to the moment I close my eyes. Sometimes it is just a dull feeling and sometimes it is a roar in my ears, drowning out the rest of the world. I feel sick when I try to eat and I feel a lingering sadness even when I laugh. But I know it is allowed. I don’t expect to just be able to fall back into the past because truly, the person I was is not the person I am today, I rest in the fact that I have these physical reminders to keep my passion alive. Sometimes I think it would hurt worse to not be feeling this way, because if I was able to just go back to the way I felt before, what would that say about the last 9 months. No, that time meant something and did something in my life that will never allow me to be the same. I embrace these trials because they keep Haiti real!

I have put off for so long facing all these feelings. Addressing the real world is tough. When I run errands I undoubtedly see people whom I haven’t spoken to since I got back. I can hear the questions before they are voiced…”how does it feel to be home?”
“It sucks”
“What are your plans now that you are back”
“Breathe in, breath out, try not to fall apart, try not to cry in walmart, try not to hate the world I am surrounded by”
“You must miss it a lot”
“More and more with every second that passes”
But these are not the answers I can give, these are not the things people want to hear. If I were to break down and tell them the things I really want to say they would be shocked. And so I don’t. Instead, I put on the smile and the cheer that doesn’t make people uncomfortable. Instead I tell them what I know they want to hear, all the while crying out to God to bring me to a place where it is the truth. The reality is, no one but God can possibly understand and so he is the only one I can truly turn to and let go. He sees their faces too. When all I want to do is sit in my memories he lets me. He doesn’t just listen politely for a few minuets and then let his eyes glaze over and his attention fade. He is just there. I don’t say this to disrespect any of you who I have talked to, any of you who have asked these questions. Only to reassure that my true comfort comes from the only one with the authority to give it. I understand that it is difficult to know what to say and what to ask. I am grieving in a way that is not understood, by other people or myself. Where do I fit? I am not a mother, but someone once called me mama. My children did not die, but I have no idea what they are doing right now. I have no claim to them, but they hold all the pieces to my heart. Today as I write this I sit in a café in Bozeman, Montana and I am crying. People look out of the corner of their eyes at me as they walk past, they wonder. No one approaches me and I am glad, because if they did how could I explain it. There is no category that I fall into, no section in Barnes and Noble for books about this. But there is the ultimate author of the greatest Book, and so that is where I will run and search.

While the pain is still real and the urge to hide is pressing in on all sides I resist. Why, because I have a calling. Once upon a time, God called me to turn away from all I knew and go to a place he chose, to grow and to be made whole. Today God called me again, to a place that is no longer what I love, but that needs me just the same. He called me to grow and to be made whole. I will grow and I will bloom, where I am planted by the One who knows.

In the garden,


Bonnie JOY Kelley said...

THIS so touched me...I must walk the journey with you. You are an inspiration!! I must use some of what you have shared on Morning Coffee to send out your blogspot to all I know! AND THANKS for the WONDERFUL MUSIC!! U must tell me how u added that? WONDERFUL!! BLESSINGS and PRAYERS for YOU!!

Krista Clements Orlan said...

I am so thankful that you are going to be sharing your experiences of Haiti with our VBS kids this summer. I encourage you to tell them like it is, don't try to say what you think they want to hear, but speak the Truth. The Truth is Spirit filled and will inspire others to do as you have done.

Walking the fence is a hard thing to do. Living in the middle spaces is uncomfortable. I understand that... We should go out for coffee sometime.

Sr. Sarah Hennessey said...

"The ways he speaks to me here are much different than the ways He spoke to me there, but He is speaking all the same."
Yes Rhyan! He is still speaking all the same and I love that you recognize that you are still called to wholeheartedly follow Him in this broken world of ours especially as you confront the brokeness of being torn from the place and people that you love. That love is precious and still shines for all of us.
You are called and you can choose how to live that calling, today and everyday.
So much of what you wrote resonated with me with my own struggle with God when I felt I was being called to be a Catholic sister. Didn't I have a choice? wouldn't God want my freely given choice? And I found that the answer was Yes... and I am called and have to live into that calling with all the pain and glory. God has called you and you are choosing to live it where ever you are! God Bless you!