I have been deliberating for over a month now on how to blog. If I should blog at all. The camera has hardly come out of its bag since my return to Colorado at the end of January. But then I think that the most successful blog posts I have shared have been from the heart. I am hurting. Broken. But if my hurt can encourage someone else in their healing, then it is by far worth it.
Life is difficult sometimes. You know, I am supposed to be in Africa still. But here I am in Colorado, in the middle of a snowy winter. You know what? It is perfect, too. I do not feel out of place.
I went to Africa to help, to contribute something to humanity, and to seek out the possibilities of long-term work for me there as a photographer. It was completely wonderful. So many things revealed. And then the brokenness and sin of this world hit me from left field. Literally. I felt sucker punched. I was hurt in the worst way possible, and have spent much of this month in just a stupor, wondering at it all. I don’t know that specifics are necessary here, just know that the recovery process from this wound is a very long one.
Trauma is a strange creature. It comes and goes in waves. The numbness stayed with me for a few weeks, until I cracked one morning. I was thankful that a kind soul happened upon me, and sat with me as I wept. The tears come and go. The heaviness comes and goes. Sometimes it is completely overwhelming, and I feel like it is a mighty accomplishment to even get out of bed. Other days, I feel angry. And some days, some moments, I feel nothing at all, as though nothing happened to change my life forever. I feel impatient. I want to get on with my life, and to be joyful and fun again. I feel like such a downer to be around! But it has been wisely advised that I seek out the help I need, and give myself plenty of grace and time. If you don’t deal with the emotional wounds that come with trauma, they will come back and paralyze you at the most inconvenient times. I have found many patient people, and some who are also impatient. Some people do not know what to say, and they tell me to just get over it and move on with my life. I know the sentiment is meant well, but it causes more hurt than help.
This trauma has revealed to me so many things. The good, my family and friends. I had no idea just how surrounded I was by people who were willing to catch me when I fell. When everything suddenly went south, I had hundreds of people praying for me with little to no explanation of my circumstances. Now, as I am settled in Colorado for a season of healing, I am grateful for the family I have been given. Family goes much deeper and further than blood… my church, my friends, the women who are more sisters to me than my own will ever be, I am grateful.
There has also been the revelation that it is okay to slow down. I have been so eager to jump into life, into ministry, into my full blown career. I have been going and getting, and working horrific hours, and volunteering until I am completely exhausted, and now I am rendered mostly useless. Another strange thing about trauma, is that though my body is not physically hurt anymore, it is so completely exhausted and weakened that I feel ill. My normal activities, running, hiking, even swimming or yoga, are incredibly difficult. It is hard to grant myself some grace in this too, and allow myself to move slowly. But it is necessary. Migraines are my newest companion, and crocheting is my best occupation.
I don’t know what all I am trying to say here. I wanted to be in Africa. There is not a doubt in my mind that I belonged there for the time I was there. Someone made a horribly selfish choice and harmed me. For my own safety, I returned home. Yes, my heart is broken. Yes, the road to healing is long, and many days it completely sucks. But God is gracious. So very gracious. I do not even pretend to understand why bad things happen. I was doing good, and something horrible happened to me, that will leave a scar for the rest of my life. But God. But God is good. I cling to that every single day. But God is good, and has put me in a safe place, surrounded by incredible people. I have shared my story with my close friends in detail. What I have learned is that many of them share common circumstances, minus the Africa bit. I have learned that many broken people hide their wounds in shame, and take many years to get up the courage to share. If my dealing with a wound can help you to deal with yours, then come and let us hold one another in this.
So, what now? What does this mean for my business, for my travels? Are the adventures over? This is the question I have grappled with for a month now. No, the adventures are not over. In fact, the very definition of adventure includes unexpected twists and turns in the path. My adventure does not currently include moto taxis or bartering for my potatoes in Swahili, but it now consists of being still, waiting, and crocheting. Is is any less of an adventure? Not at all. Nothing, NOT A THING in God’s kingdom is wasted. I am planning on staying in the mountains through the summer, and enjoying the full glory of Vail in the height of my favorite season. I am continuing to run my business, just limiting the number of clients I take per month. I will continue to travel, a bit here and a bit there– in fact, I am still going to Alaska in a few weeks, which was originally the end of my long trip. For the most part, you can find me at the Bookworm, enjoying a crepe and my journal.
If this means my life has suddenly turned boring, then boring it is. Let me only be present, whether the season be one of joy and exploration, or one of sadness and mourning. Falling down is part of life, but getting up again is living.
Here are a few things from my camera, from February. Most are from the iPhone, a few from the Mark II.
Bubby. We love him.
I was graciously given a few nights at Sanctuary, Buena Vista. It was a place to retreat for some counseling, lots of prayer, and delicious food. And a big, roaring fire. And a Valentine!
I have played the piano more in the past month than in the past several years combined. They had a beautiful baby grand at Sanctuary, and it was good for the soul to plunk out a few songs.
Coffee and doughnuts with the Pops. The only way to get a photo of him is to sneak one.
I crochet while Debi Schneider knits. We drink tea or cappucinos and talk. It has been my saving grace.
Debi asked me to capture the amount of snow that was outside earlier in February. Her little birdhouse looks like it is bearing a terrible burden.
The Lemons dogs also enjoy crocheting. They are very willing to help me untangle things, if necessary.
And Jamie’s cooking. Yes. Please.
And Bentley, my love. A quick visit to Erin, the newly engaged bestie, and the dog that lights up my world. See, he even smiled big for the camera!