One year ago today, my feet stepped back onto American soil after spending one month in Kenya, I wrote in my journal. I took a deep breath, and let my head rest back on my pillow, remembering the journey and how good it felt to be home. It felt like yesterday. No, it felt like three years ago!
It was after that trip that my life completely changed.
So much change happened all of a sudden that I don’t even want to retrace it, yet here I am writing about it.
This change rocked me to my core. It put me flat on my back and knocked the breath out of me.
First sadness set in, then grief, which turned to anxiety and finally depression.
Before last year, I’d not had a personal encounter with those words. Sadness. Grief. Anxiety. Depression. I knew what they meant and I knew people who struggled with them, but they were not feelings I lived with. Sure, I’ve had a bad day or an off week, but eventually the clouds would part in my world and the sun would shine again.
But now I can say I have experienced those words personally.
Even when the sun shone brightly outside, the feelings those words produce came upon me like a wet, heavy blanket and blocked out any hope of joy. I yearned to roll up my sleeves and expose my bare arms to the sun’s rich, nourishing rays, but I couldn’t get there. In my world, it was cold, damp, and dark most days, and I was drowning in an ocean of tears.
I tried to snap out of it. My husband tells me I’m a strong-willed woman, so I thought I could do it. But no amount of sleep, morning jogs or mustered up willpower jarred my spirit out of the mire it was in.
I desperately wanted to figure out what was going on, but the only thing I could do was stare blankly at the walls in my room as I sat on my bed. As I stared, I would freeze frame a minute of time in my mind, step out of my skin and survey the life buzzing around me.
I would just stare, open mouthed at the sight of it all and think, What happened to me? What happened to my life?
The fact is change is heavy, no matter what kind it is, how strong you are or how you carry it. It left me looking like the pruned crate myrtle bushes in the spring – bare branched and blossom-less.
Because of all this change I was forced to rest. The Kenya trip last May, the house remodel that followed and caring for Papa later that year had left me exhausted. So in January we declared this semester a Steck Sabbatical.
My kids went to public school for the first time, which gave me a much needed break from the responsibilities of homeschooling. We did no sports and planned minimal weekly commitments. I focused on basic, daily things like eating three meals a day, reading, resting and getting myself healthy again. I wrote when I could, edited my book, took walks and spent as much time in quiet as I could.
My words for this year were Cozy, Beautiful, Minimal. A friend of mine told me that sounded like a cocoon, so I needed to get ready to fly. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Now, looking back she was right. This year has been a cocoon phase. A time to pause, wall off the outside world and focus on things internally. A time to heal and grow with the goal of eventually flying. A time to be transformed.
Although it’s comfortable, I’m not to stay inside that cozy, beautiful, minimal cocoon forever. Recently, I’ve felt a gentle tap on shoulder, a shake in my spirit alerting me it’s time to emerge from this hibernation.
I feel like I’m stretching and groaning like I woke up from a five hour nap. I’m a little groggy and foggy but I’m trying to get my bearings.
For I know, it’s time. It’s time to speak what God taught me on this journey. It’s time to lock arms with others caught somewhere in the middle of their own journey and encourage them to keep fighting the good fight. Keep the faith. One day we will finish the race.
Until then we must trust the One who redeems the story, for I see Him redeeming mine!