They had both seen it before, I had put it off for quite a while. Oh, it was an incredible film. The kind of film I would want to be a part of making, the kind of film I can see my husband really working on… One that tells an important story, presents truth in an amazing way, and challenges the one who experiences this story to think, to change, to live differently.
From the beginning, every moment of the movie, my heart ached for Africa. Not just for the pain I witnessed in this story, but my heart ached because I want to be there. Nowhere has ever felt like home like Africa did, has, and does.
I cried at different points (as I always do in movies, because stories really, really, get to my heart). After the film was over and our friend had gone home, I asked my husband if he’d ever want to be a missionary in Africa, (or somewhere that’s not America). This is certainly not the first time we’ve had this conversation, we have it about once every six-eight weeks.
What’s so hard about the six months that I spent in Africa (that I wouldn’t change for anything, ever) is that it wrecked my life. It changed everything I ever thought was real. Jesus brought me to life there in ways that I never thought possible. I can still feel the ache in my heart when I realized the emptiness of my previous life in America. I can still see the horizon, the shooting stars, the laughter of the precious orphans that just absolutely stole my heart. I vividly remember that I swore I’d come back. I vowed that my life would never be the same, that I’d never go back to a complacent, indifferent, apathetic American Way. That I’d never forget how Jesus brought me to life.
I certainly haven’t forgotten. Every moment I’ve been back in America, it’s like these little pieces of my heart just turn to stone. Since being back from Africa, knowing John & talking with him, sharing my life with him, letting him in, processing everything with him has taught me so much about Jesus & hope & grace that it’s truly amazing. I really think it’s what’s kept me from depression. It feels impossible to change anything here. People are too busy, the culture is so individualistic, moments don’t matter, accomplishment is all that does.
So I laid in bed with my husband last night, my head on his chest, hearing his heartbeat, and I just wept. I wept because I want to go home. I wept because I fear that I’ll be angry at God if He keeps me in America for my life… I wept because how hard I hold onto Africa (or India, for that matter), how much I fight being in America, tells me that this is probably where I need to be the most. I wept because I hate that. I hate it.
Today, I was remembering what about Africa it was that changed everything. There are so many things… SO many things. But when I closed my eyes and saw what just wrecked my heart more than anything, it was the children. It was the orphans. When I imagine what life would be like if I had chosen to stay in Africa and work for another two years (which I almost did) I see the orphanage in Swaziland and this beautiful little girl, Image, who still owns a little piece of my heart.
I see Swaziland, I see the place where I grew the most in the shortest amount of time. I see so many things, but what causes a lump to rise in my throat, and tears to stream down my face, is those kids. Those precious children that lost their parents to HIV, that were abandoned, that have joy in the midst of devastating sorrow… They take my breath away and grip my heart in a way that I can’t move past it. I don’t think I’ll ever move past it.
So, I text messaged my husband and said, “I want to adopt a little African baby.”
(Again, not at all the first time we’ve talked about this, it comes up fairly often as well.)
I’m a firm believer in adopting locally because this is our community, and this is where we are responsible to make change.
But my heart won’t let me get away from Image, or Noxola, or the rest of the precious people I got to encounter.
There’s something to that.
In case you’re wondering, my wonderful husband’s response to my text was: “We can start the process after we pray about the timing. I love you, sweet heart.”
Thank you, Jesus. For my husband, for the ways you brought me to life, for the ways you’ve redeemed me, for the love you put into the places in my heart that I thought were lost forever. Your beauty and glory and love is magnificent. I’ll always be a dragon, and I thank you for always being in the process of turning me back into a girl.
Maybe we’ll live in America forever. Maybe we’ll get to live in India or Swaziland. Maybe a door will be opened for us to adopt from the orphanage in Swaziland that I got to visit. Maybe we’ll get to be a home for a child that’s close by that has no one. Maybe we’ll have our own kids, and we’ll get to play a part in inspiring others to adopt. Maybe everything will change and I won’t have been right about any of it.
I pray that the part of my heart that so desires to open our hearts and home to the lost, hurt, homeless, helpless, and dying, only comes to life more and more as the days go by. I pray that being in America will stop feeling like it’s sucking the life out of me, and I can come to life more and more the way I did in Africa, and that John & I will trust in His goodness, rest in His timing, His path of wisdom and love.
Also, for an incredible, inspiring, amazing story & blog, check out Katie who lives in Uganda and has adopted 14 children in the nearly 3 years she’s lived there. I can’t ever read her blog without crying. It’s fantastic.