Tuesday, August 18, 2015

transitioning, ugly-crying and carrying on

 8 days, I tell people. I have 8 more days until I get to go home. This is the conversation that has been happening a lot lately. My husband is across the ocean and I have two little girls who are heavy and poopy and we’re all hot and cranky and tired of waiting and ready to get back to real life. Jeremy made Bronwyn a cardboard calendar with quarters on each of the days with a message underneath each coin. The messages say sweet things like, “I love you” and “give mommy a hug”; I think I look forward to pulling each quarter off more than she does.

We were in the States to have a baby and now that Leonie is here and truly healthy and happy and all loaded up on immunizations and mommy milk, I feel confident that we are indeed READY. It has been long haul, and I’ve been honest about my discontentment in a few different posts here. It’s hard being in not your home, driving not your car, eating not your food and generally being at the mercy of all the people around you for basic sustenance. The lack of self determination has worn me a bit thin, and I’m planning on bellowing a William Wallace-esque FREEEEEDOOOOM the moment I step off that plane. (Because I'm dainty like that.)

But for all of my excited anticipation, I’m simultaneously sifting through the curious grief that I’ve learned accompanies all transition.

I’m well aware of the fact that I don’t transition “pretty”. After college graduation, I shut myself in my room and wept heavily for a good hour. I had an Ivy League diploma and great things ahead of me. Was I really mourning the end of finals? No more all-nighters? No more walking to class in blizzards? Hardly. And yet, I couldn’t escape that pressing sense of loss.

Here’s another goody: thirty seconds after Jeremy and I had left our wedding reception, we were driving down the road on our way to get our honeymoon started and I burst into full body sobs. Poor Jeremy, he silently patted my hand and let me cry but was probably like, Um, I’m really happy to be married now too, babe! Was I not thrilled to have married my best friend? Did I really want to go back to being lonely and single? Of course not.

I cried when I left for the Peace Corps even though I was excited beyond words. I cried when I finished the Peace Corps even though I was not even moving out of the village. I cried for days after Bronwyn was born even though I'd never imagined loving a floppy baby so much. 

sometimes I feel like the one on the right, sometimes the left
Transition brings into acute focus the good of what once was. And sometimes, seeing that good catches us by surprise, particularly if it previously seemed commonplace, or maybe even overshadowed by a whole lot of not good. You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone, go the words. Thanks, Joni Mitchell, for setting my angst to tune.

Now again it’s hitting me. I at least recognize the symptoms this time. I was completing a simple task, writing a thank you note to a lady. My girl loved so much the VBS so had just attended and I wanted the team to know how much it meant to me for her to have that kind of experience. I rambled a bit, explaining that we were missionaries and we were going back to Zambia soon and I knew my girls wouldn’t have access to that kind of programming for quite some time because we live in the bush and a VBS will only happen if I run it… and my eyes started leaking all over the thank you card. I started thinking abut the Sunday school teachers she’s had these past 8 months and the friends who have loved her and the resources for growth and learning she’s had available to her. I started thinking about the lack of malaria here, and the clean beds and the grandma hugs... and the waves of emotion just kept rolling.
this. good.

so good

In the days since, my mind has continued to add to that “this was a good thing” list – and not only with regards to the kids, but for myself as well. I’m happy for the safe place to deliver my baby and the nutritious food that was always available. I’m thankful for the small group that took me in and showed me such kindness. I’m thankful that I got to witness the beauty of all four seasons and that I had appropriate clothing for all the weather. I’m thankful for the internet access that let me stock up on planning materials and needed supplies. I’m thankful for the hugs that I received in person and not just over e-mail. It was hard in so many ways. And yet, SO VERY GOOD.

more than good

lovin' all the good

So if you ask me how I feel about leaving, I’ll still likely over-emphasize that I am totally ready and I can't wait! But I might also start to tear up too, because I know both the good I’m going back to, and the good I’m leaving behind. Part of me hates the constant flip flop of emotion, but strangely, I take comfort in knowing that this too is grace. All transition is loss, largely because God works everything for good, which means we’re always leaving something good behind.

all kinds of good

and more good still
If you’re in Dulles airport next week and see a bunch of sorry looking white girls who are schlepping luggage and ugly crying, know that its ok. Just flash me a sign of solidarity and say carry on, sister. And that we will.


  1. and through it all, we learn to trust in Jesus.

    You are deeply loved wherever you are and however much you are ugly crying.

  2. Love you girl! Endless prayers from Minnesota.

  3. You are such a captivating writer Beth! Thank you for sharing your incredible experiences...kafikenipo mukwai!!!!!! Love to the fam!