Five Years

A lot can happen in 5 years.

I mean, a lot can happen in any about of time, but 5 years seems like a significant amount of time, ya know? Don't so many parents have those moments like, "How in the world do I have a FIVE year old?!"

Anywho... in my life the last 5 years have been full. Very, very full.

Five years ago yesterday, I left for Honduras.

I had just left my awesome job, ended a whirlwind couple of months of travel to visit all my family and friends that I wouldn't see for over a year, and then hopped on a plane to a place I had never been to follow the Lord's call to serve. Him. The children. The poor.

While there, I had some of the best experiences of my life, and some of the toughest. Being there was harder than I ever thought- emotionally, spiritually and mentally (maybe physically if you count all the times I was sick and such!). Not because of the service I was doing. Not because I had to deal with cold water and roaches. And not even because some of the things that I saw were just heartbreaking.

It was because I was broken, and I didn't realize how much. The wounds- they were deep.

I was stripped away from all that I knew... new place, new people, new job, new language, new everything. And this stripping of all that kept my world together (friends, family, familiarity, etc), forced my wounds to surface and come to the forefront of all that I was doing. At the time, I just thought I was overwhelmed with being in Honduras. That I couldn't handle being there. That I wasn't tough enough be there in this situation that I clearly felt the Lord calling me to do.

It was a lot.

And I made the excruciating decision to leave. In the middle of my year commitment. It was a very tough pill for me to swallow. And look at my fellow volunteers in the eyes. I was sad. I was upset to be abandoning them. And the children. But, I just knew that I had to get home. And work on myself. To figure out what was going on. To heal.

I've heard many people say that you shouldn't do mission or service work if you aren't mentally "okay" for many of the reasons that I have listed above. I get that. I get that on a practical level because you can't be your best for others if you are dealing with your own stuff. But, see, it's precisely because of Honduras and my mission work that I realized how broken I was. I didn't plan on it. I didn't do it maliciously. It can't be a blanket statement for all people... no one would take the leap to do the mission work that the Lord needs to be done. The way He works is mysterious and doesn't always make sense to us on the outside. And it's taken me a while to not be ashamed of the fact that I did have to leave. I did, and it's part of my story. And I still wish many times that I could have done it differently. But, that's not how my life unfolded.

That moment of getting on the plane to Honduras 5 years ago to serve, deciding to leave 9 months later, was just the beginning of the crazy awesome. I:

  • Became a Godmother
  • Moved to Southwest FL
  • Became a school nurse
  • Started a young adult group at my parish
  • Began therapy
  • Met some amazing people
  • Traveled to some beautiful places
  • Got my "dream" job at my old hospital
  • Moved back to DC
  • Lived with my grandparents
  • Bought my first home
  • Healed
  • And continue to heal
Therapy has been the biggest thread throughout the last few years. I talked about things that I never knew I could talk about. I learned things about myself that I didn't realize. My wounds were ripped open. I was forced to see myself as a beautiful daughter of the Lord and how much that can play into how I view life. I have healed in so many beautiful ways, yet still healing in others.

I hope to share some more specifics of my healing and the realizations that have come from it at some point. But for now... reflecting on the last 5 years of my life, and seeing the beauty within it (when I don't always remember feeling the beauty at the time) has been good. I am no longer ashamed of many aspects of my life.

That is a beautiful and refreshing thing.

Shame is a nasty chain that holds on for a veryveryvery long time. It sneaks up at moments that you don't expect. The devil likes it that way. Shame prevents you from being completely you, being open to others, allowing the love of the Lord to seep in and change you.

I pray that if you are holding on to shame from your past that you figure out how to let it go. Give it to the Lord. He wants to spare you from it. He wants to love you deeply. If it's really deep and you are really struggling, please consider talking to someone. Therapy has changed my life. And there is definitely no shame in that. :)

The life that I am living is nothing like I hoped. I would be married and have multiple kids by now, yet this is the life that I am living. Right here. Right now. I am doing my best to let that be enough. That the Lord's will for me right now, is this life. Today. And that is enough.

Please, Lord. Let this life be enough. I want this life, and you, to be enough.



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8 comments :

  1. Love this, Jen. It's so incredible to be able to look back at life and be like WHOA, I SURVIVED THAT. It took me a while to "get" how much God loves us no matter what, and I think we have to be reminded of that every so often. You've done some incredibly adventurous and brave things in the last several years. Go you! May the adventures and healing continue. So glad for you!

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  2. You're so wonderful, Jen! I'm so happy I got to meet you via the blog world and even better in real life! I hope you have a wonderful rest of your Advent!!! :)

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    1. Thanks, Joan! I am so happy that I got to meet you, as well :) I hope you had a wonderful Advent and Christmas AND New Year!! Man, I am not doing so good with the blog thing lately! Forgive me!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Jen. I agree, shame is difficult to identify and heal. Here's to healing in 2017! Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks, Julie! Yes, more healing! If you are in need of it, too... know if my prayers! Happy New Year! (sorry for the delay!!)

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