This post was written a year ago yesterday, and so much of it still rings true. In a way I am thankful. I am thankful that my heart has not atrophied, that it is still pliable and the bruising still hurts. I was scared that I would forget. Yet, I am still confused and searching for how God wants me to use what I saw. I still do not know what to do with all of this.
43 days ago I did something so horrible, that I never predicted I would have to be faced with. I kissed my second born son, the one born in my heart, goodbye and placed him in the arms of strangers. Then, not only did I turn and walk away - not only did I leave him, but I also left his country and flew an ocean away from him. And I literally feel as if I left half my heart behind with him. I am functioning here only half-heartedly, and in some ways that has numbed the hurt of the reality of what I have done.
It has been much harder than I ever expected to come back home, and not all of it is because of Jamesy. Africa - Ethiopia - burrowed itself into my heart and leaked into my blood, and I will never be the same. Much of what I saw was hard for us here in America to even fathom, and most of us cannot unless we experience it first hand. I now know that. My photographs, Jim's videos, and certainly not my words - none of it resonates like seeing it with one's own eyes. My memories are not only filled with the cruel truth that is life for many in Ethiopia, it is also filled with a sea of brown faces that were filled with JOY. A joy that did not come from possessions, status, or circumstances. We were met with kindness, some of the most genuine kindness that I have ever experienced. A kindness that is not found here. We experienced and witnessed community and relationships so full, authentic, and vibrant it left me feeling empty when I compared it to what I know to be true of relationships here.
I miss the beautiful people, the children, the babies, my street boy, our Ethiopian guides, the other adopting families who understood the bruising of our hearts for a country a world away from our everyday lives.
I miss seeing with new eyes and feeling as if I was truly Kingdom living - really making a difference.
I miss the coffee ceremonies and the popcorn and the sunrise on the roof of our guest house, and our cook with the kind, soft brown eyes, and the way the clouds looked so puffy and white against the dirty but beautiful city of Addis.
Not a day goes by without the remembering, the knowing, that my life here is far from normal for most of the world.
Yet, I am still terrified that I will somehow forget.
And I have yet to learn how to live in the middle.
Jim and I have talked a lot about how to go on from here. We are both changed, and we want this change to be permanent. We never want to go back to who we once were. But how do we live in the middle? Obviously poverty is not the answer. We do not feel as if God is calling us to a life of poverty - living homeless on the streets so that we can truly know and understand what we saw in Ethiopia . However, living in excess is not the answer either. Both of these are so extreme, and I believe neither is at God's heart for our life. But what measuring stick do we use for excess - certainly not America's. Yes, I know God's. But what is that? What does that look like? Is it different for every believer. I think it is different for us. I think it will be more extreme for us. It has to be, because we were given that amazing blessing to see the truth, and I pray that truth lives in our heart and our every decision and every purchase.
I do not think that God wants me to walk around Walmart, to yard sale - just because I might need something there, to shop on ebay without remembering the children I saw eating scraps from garbage on the side of the street wearing their entire wardrobe in rags that hung on their bones.
Is there a way to live in the middle and not forget?
Is there a way to live in the middle and continue to have the scales ripped from eyes?
I don't know, and that terrifies me, because maybe truly the middle is not where God has called me to live.
I am called to be an imitator of Jesus. Did Jesus live in the middle?
Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. Psalm 119:18
A mother on the streets of Addis begging for food with her young child.