In 2011, after returning from the World Race, I needed some…um, special attention?
That 11 month trip around the world altered things inside of me that I did not expect to have altered; parts of my personality were chiseled into a new version of myself and ways that I responded to situations was no longer the same. A lot of good things came out of that whirlwind experience. I learned the importance of using my voice, I learned some of the qualities of a good leader and I met some of my most dear friends.
I also came home from this experience incredibly depressed.
Depression, while not at all a friend, became a constant companion in my life. Beginning the last couple months of the World Race my new companion taught me how to withdrawal from relationships and shut off my emotions.
Being welcomed home by all my friends and family wasn’t an easy task. I knew that they had missed me and I had missed them too, but with my new companion I wasn’t exactly very engaging. No one was expecting me to bring this companion home and I wanted to avoid their questions, so for the first couple months of living in America I pretended that I came home alone.
Oddly, while I was going through the motions of christian life in America, I was also walking through the process of becoming a church planter to Thailand. Through the early stages of this process, the church leadership thought it important for me to get some help sorting through what was going on inside of me.
That’s when I met Norma. I can remember our first meeting so vividly. I was scared, cold and walled off; she was bright, open, full of love, light and warmth. I felt safe. I didn’t know Norma–had only seen her at church and heard her name, but something about her set me at ease. I knew that with her I did not need to pretend.
So I didn’t.
I was honest about my companion and remember distinctly telling her that I don’t believe in the ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’
Somehow, the things I said to her didn’t scare her away. She wasn’t scared of my companion, of my pain, of my mess. Instead she loved me, listened to me and taught me.
I left America, still holding onto the fingertips of my trusty companion, but have since been able to let go completely and through a lot of grace and relearning how to trust my Papa, have been freed completely from it’s influence.
During one of our first meetings at the Tea Smith, Norma asked me what was one of the hardest things for me during the World Race.
Simple enough question…I can still write a pretty substantial list without thinking too hard, but that day, for whatever reason, I told Norma that the hardest thing for me was the incredible difficulty in finding loofahs.
In case you don’t know:
a coarse, fibrous cylindrical object used like a bath sponge for washing. It consists of the dried fibrous matter of the fluid-transport system of a marrowlike fruit.
- the tropical Old World climbing plant of the gourd family that produces these fruits, which are also edible.