Tomorrow marks the 3rd month of living in Kenya for my husband, my two little girls and myself. Wow, a quarter of a year already. I must admit walking through the experience has been quite different than I had for so long envisioned, which of course, was to be expected. Very little is ever as it seems it will be. That being said though, I have been surprised to see how I in the end, reacted to all of the changes, challenges and chances presented. Even though I knew it was going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever endeavored to do, I still envisioned myself powering through it, a pillar of strength, ability and grace for my family and those supporting us. Instead, I more often than not felt bowled over by emotions of loss, grief, deep-seeded insecurity, vulnerability, crippling self-doubt and anxiety. Not exactly a pillar. Yet feathered in between all of these varied emotions, I discovered a tenacity to my personality that I never knew existed. As I daily dug my heels into the African soil I was now standing on, with each hand holding one smaller and more vulnerable than itself, I pressed through the labyrinth of my soul and to my surprise stumbled across traces of strength, depth, love, openness, optimism, and unfettered joy. Elements that I had long forgotten existed that were appearing as seeds of hope.
As I began to take heed to these perceived seedlings in my spirit, something within me suspected that they might not in actuality be seedlings but roots instead. As the days went by and I struggled with emotion after emotion, I continued to meditate on this with the Lord and felt Him ushering me to a revelation: The winds of change will always shake the leaves from the trees, but what remains unshaken are the roots of the tree that those leaves perpetually grow out of. If the tree focused only on the leaves being blown from its branches, would that serve anyone? No. Rather it remains steady in itself and allows the storms to come and go. Likewise, if you focus more on what holds you steady and strong within rather than what shakes the surface, you will remain standing tall.
This might be an elemental lesson for many but when you’re the tree at the center of the storm, sometimes you have to re-learn these lessons from a different vantage point for them to really sink in. Remembering who you are at the center and Who is at that center means the difference between surviving and thriving in times of change; is the north star that enables us to navigate successfully the challenges surrounding us; and is the vision needed to not only identify but make the most of the chances presented to us in the midst of the storm.
In closing, I feel the page to a new chapter being turned in my life and as I take this initial lesson to heart, I will begin reflecting on the ones to come…