This week marks 8 months since I left Haiti. Most days it still feels like I should be mentally gearing up to go back for the next stretch, yet here I remain in this new life. I’ve been pretty silent on the blog for the last few months because, well, truthfully I haven’t had a lot of words. It’s taken me 8 months to come up with words to describe it and not too long ago i came up with two…
Those are the words that so perfectly describe this season. Leaving Haiti was painful. Saying goodbye to the 61 kids and the dear friends who will forever have a special place in my heart was painful. I knew leaving was going to be hard and I knew it was going to hurt, but truthfully? It was a million times more painful then I could have ever anticipated. I was hit with grief so deep that for weeks upon returning home I could barely even leave my house. If I’m going to be real here there were days that getting out of bed and joining the world was even too much for me to handle. I’m telling you, it was painful. But that second word is so crucial in the description of this season because despite the pain it has been one of the most beautiful seasons I’ve walked through.
Upon leaving I realized there was so much that I walked through over the last 5 years that I had never even been given the time to process. Life was non-stop there and while you had a day off here and there you were always on, even on the “off” days. God taught me so so so much and I wouldn’t be who I am today without those 5 years. But coming home and having some distance showed me I needed to work through and process a lot. I had to process the deaths I experienced, both at home and in Haiti, over the last 5 years. I had to process being hurt by people that I had never really faced. I had to rest because I poured out so much of myself for the last 5 years and looking back I didn’t do enough to keep myself filled up . But the biggest thing I saw when I got home is that I had become so comfortable in the UN-comfortableness of life in Haiti. The un-excpected was normal. The chaotic was normal. The struggle was real…and normal. I had become comfortable. At the beginning of 2016 I started to get a glimpse of that and started to pray that the desperation to be close to Jesus would rise up within me again..and it did, it has, it is.
I long for knocks on my door and dirty feet all over my furniture with my tiny little tile-floored apartment full of way too many kids talking over the movie that nobody is even really watching. I miss it more than I can ever express with words.
I thought that coming “home” would feel like coming home. But it hasn’t. It’s almost harder than moving to a new city because everyone’s lives have gone on without me (as I fully expected they would) and I just don’t really fit here the way I did before. I’ve been on this journey of searching for home. God has so gently been reminding me that my home is with Him, wherever He leads me. From the time I got home in July until the end of 2016 I was stuck on the struggle bus. I felt like an alien wondering around in this land called America trying learn the ways of the land, remembering not to speak creole to every African-American I see and seeking out what God wants to do with me here. I felt kind of hopeless and lonely most of those months and it was really hard. As i rolled into 2017 I took time on January 1st, as I do every year and asked God what His word was for me. He very quickly gave me the word RESTORE. You see, I spent so much time pouring so much out that I started to lose little pieces of who I was in Christ. Early on in January I started attending the Life Center in Harrisburg, PA. It’s an incredible, beautiful group of Jesus loving people and I instantly felt at home there. I was listening to a podcast from one of their services and this little blurb stuck out:(paraphrasing)…
“You’re like a runner in a race that’s fallen down on the track. All these runners start trampling on/past you…the runners are called discouragement, depression, despair, etc. All of a sudden hope comes up to you and stops. Hope takes your hand, helps you up and as you are filled with hope you start running again. The announcer comes over the speaker and says “oh wait, you won’t believe this, but Hope is up and running! It’s running past discouragement…oh man! now it’s passing despair…and it just passed depression! Hope is in the lead!! Hope just won the race!”
I’ll never forget the moment I heard those words. I was working out at home that morning and was doing a plank. I literally started weeping and fell to the ground because that was me. I was that runner who had fallen on the track. I was that runner getting trampled on. But for some reason something in the atmosphere shifted at the beginning of this year and I felt hope again. I’m up and running again and I’m winning this race!
I’m confident that I’ll never stop missing Haiti. I have a book of pictures of every single kid and I look through that book praying over my babies every single day. They hold a piece of my heart that will forever be reserved for them. But friends this is more than just the next thing. God is doing a new work in my life. He is preparing me for a new season and He is raising me up for the adventures to come.
Over the last few months I’ve had the most beautiful encounters with the Lord. Encounter’s that remind me that He has so much more in store for me. Encounters that remind me that my mission didn’t end in Haiti. He’s been romancing me and in this season of feeling lonely on this earth He has been my constant friend and guide, so gentle and gracious with me as I find myself realizing He’s been waiting for me to dive in to this next season all along. I remember feeling this way two years before I moved to Haiti. I remember that feeling of anticipation, knowing that God is preparing me for something. And just like He told me for those two years before I moved to Haiti he’s telling me again, “Katie, go be a light wherever you are. Love me people and point them to me. And make sure you’re ready because you’ll know when it’s time, just like before”.
There have been some ugly days for me over the last few months, and I mean u-g-l-y. I’m so thankful for each friend, old and new, that God has placed in my life to walk through this season. I’m so thankful for the JOY He has placed in my life and I’m so excited for what’s to come! If you’re in a season of despair, get up and run with Hope! I promise the prize is worth it!