I stood in the DFW airport saddled with two suitcases packed to their absolute maximum limit with not a single inch or pound to spare.
If you want a faster way to Marie Kondo your life, just play a fun game where you pretend to move overseas and can only take two suitcases weighing 32kg each. You’ll quickly discover your most prized possessions. Spoiler alert: Mine apparently is dry shampoo and fuzzy slippers.
After kissing my luggage goodbye and hoping it would make a reappearance at the intended destination I turned to my parents to say the goodbye I dreaded. Suddenly, my vision became blurry. I thought my blurry vision indicated the onset of a rare eye condition, but in reality, it was a swelling of tears on the verge of breaching its barriers to rush down my cheeks.
I am without a doubt an airport ‘arrivals’ fan. You get to see the sheer joy and excitement of travelers being welcomed home, but ‘departures’ are where you see the heartbreak, the longing, and the hugs that never want to end.
There’s definitely no webinar, map, or five-step foolproof plan for leaving those you love.
I was heading to Uganda to be with my husband-to-be which required me to leave my family and the only life I knew to begin a new life in a foreign land. Sometimes in order to step into what God has for you, you have to make some pretty serious sacrifices, not knowing when I would see my family again was as serious as it got for me.
Starting over can sound sexy and alluring, but my new beginning usually consisted of a daily display of stubbornness, second-guessing what I signed up for, and wishing my family and friends could materialize out of thin air. Although I tried my hardest to settle into a life with unreliable internet, frequent power outages, and new cultural norms I began to retreat into myself. My new world had too many unpredictable variables for a woman who loved control – or at least the illusion of it.
One particular evening, I shared my sudden struggle with homesickness. My parents divorced when I was little and I would split my time between Illinois and Texas. My mom sent me a tiny stuffed bear one summer to remind me of her during those moments when my heart couldn’t handle being away from her. The same bear I now clutched to my chest as I cried on my bed in Uganda.
Shortly after pouring my homesick heart out online, an unexpected message landed in my inbox. “You don’t know me, but I found your profile some weeks ago and have been reading your blogs and posts. I am coming to Uganda on Monday and wondered if I can bring you anything from the Netherlands?”
When we are hurting, God often sends himself dressed up as regular people, and sometimes these people bring chocolate.
I met up with this stranger when she landed in Uganda and it was just what I needed to put the wind back in my sails. Isn’t it beautiful that God cares so much about us that He can send hope directly to our doorsteps from miles – and even countries – away?
He constantly reminds me that love rises to the call, drops everything, and does not shy away from going the distance. Love shows up.
The months passed and my severe homesickness subsided as I formed a new life, routines, and memories on the other side of the world. Change is hard, but if you hang in there, beauty emerges eventually. Through this experience, I was reminded to send that encouraging text, verbalize the compliment in my mind for another, be on the lookout for people who need a little extra hope to hold onto and drown out cruelty with kindness. Kindness is a universal currency, spend it well.