(This was written about a week ago as we began to learn of the possibility of being asked to leave our dear African home.)
In my hands I have so much. The life God has given us in Africa in this season is rich. My heart is here. My home is here. I am invested here. I have found abundant life here. I am thriving here. Now. Thriving like never before.
My hands are full of good things these days, yet I know I’m being asked to peel back my fingers. To release my grip.
In the summer I wanted to drop everything here. I was done. I wanted to rip my hands apart and watch our life here go crashing to the dusty floor. But when I wasn’t able to muster the strength to hold my hands together with our African life safely inside, God put his hands around my weak ones and held them together for me. He helped me hold on.
As summer continued it became clear that God wanted to place more into my strengthening palms than He has in a very long time. He placed in my hands something unexpected. Something surprisingly wonderful. He placed in my hands a precious little preschool. And that school has felt more wonderful cradled between my fingers than I could have ever known. The weight has felt good. So good.
In my hands along with the preschool is my home. My apartment. My apartment of four years that has taken every bit of that time to make it the cozy comfortable nest that it is now. It’s home. In every way. It’s me. It’s my family. It’s our refuge. It’s where my kids learned to walk. It’s seen me laugh. It’s seen me cry. It’s been blessed by many a visitor. It’s filled with love and memories.
In my hands are so many dear friends that share this city with us. Precious lives and hearts that have intertwined with ours over the past six and a half years.
In my hands are dreams of what I’d like to see the preschool become. How I’d love to see it grow. Love to see many more lives intertwined with mine through it. I have dreams of how I’d love to see Mike continue to excel and thrive with his business. I have dreams of cuddling my newborn baby in my very own African bed hours after his/her appearance and finding my way to my feet again after delivery for the first time on this side of the globe.
I look at my hands. My palms are hardly visible from so many good things filling the cup they form together.
Thoughtfully I study the contents of my hands again. My heart overflows with thankfulness for all He’s put there. But I know what I must do.
With tear filled eyes, I raise my arms up, carefully cradling the contents of my hands without disturbing it. I lift them up to my Father, painfully offering it back to Him. Choosing to let Him do as He knows is best. Offering it all up, certain that each precious item was placed there by Him.
Maybe He will tenderly lift my chin, look through my tears into my eyes and gingerly press my hands lower, whispering words of comfort that He’s not taking it away right now. These are gifts I can keep awhile longer. Or maybe He will look at me through His tears and gently and lovingly remove these treasures out of my hands back into His own until He leaves my hands nearly empty and I can see my palms once again, empty, waiting for Him to place new contents there.
So here I stand… feeling the weight and beauty of the life I have in Africa in my hands as I hold them up high.
I’m trying to hold it together. I’m choosing to trust.
(Now, a week later)
We waited. My hands remained outstretched.
And now we’re saying goodbyes. I’m packing all day and weeping into the night. We’re grieving. We’re devastated. We’re confused.
My palms are indeed about to be empty of all the beautiful things I’ve known for this past season. So many good things are being taken away. It was no use fighting to hold the precious contents inside. I trust my Father to give and take as He knows best. His ways are a mystery to me, but I choose His ways over mine.
And so now we prepare to say goodbye to this land. My heart has so much thankfulness mixed in with all the grief. Africa has given me so much. I’ll never be the same. I’m changed forever. But I don’t want to say goodbye.