October 14, 2015

Re-Entry (ish) Revelations

A lot of things have been happening lately that we weren't expecting.
Our family trip in July/August.
Some {new} friends arriving in Tz for a visit and bringing with them a Target bag full of goodies and surprises for our whole family.
A four-day whirlwind missions/meet-up trip.(pts. 1, 2 and 3 here)
An on-the-edge couple of months about our futures here in Moshi (don't worry, it's all working out, I hope to be able to write in detail about it all soon!)
Anyway.  Among all those things, one thing I really never expected, was dealing with re-entry after my latest international excursion.
I didn't really think I'd have issues in South Africa, but I did.  And once I processed those and was good with them, I thought I was in the clear.  But then I got back home.  And my brain, well, it just refused to brain.

Don't misunderstand - as a full-time missionary, I'm plenty familiar with re-entry.  We've had our fair share of it on our numerous trips to and from this gorgeous country we call home, back to our friends & family in the states.  Not only do we deal with the culture & life adjustment of returning to America, but we (to a much lesser degree) deal with re-entry when we get back home.  But I really had no iota of an expectation of having to prepare myself for re-entry after only 4 days in South Africa.
When I returned it was about 9 o'clock at night, so we pretty much drove the hour home and everyone went to bed.  The next day I had planned to take off work and spend the entire day home with my little bear.  We slept in, made a lazy breakfast, cuddled some more, played a lot and he helped me unpack and put away some laundry.  But then Bill got home and asked what we should do for dinner and we should probably go shopping and make a list and get airtime for our phones and... and.. and.... and my brain just stopped.  It literally turned off.  I looked at him like he was a martian, I'm sure of it.  And he wasn't even being demanding or 'chop-chop' or anything, he was just asking normal life-type of stuff.  And I just couldn't.
I didn't know what was wrong with me.  I'm the planner of the family.  I make a list of meals for the week, then I make a grocery list, sub-divided by what we're getting from which market/store/stand, then I enter all the receipts into our Excel spreadsheets and I keep airtime tickets so we can top our phones off and... and.. and.... None of it was coming to me.  Not even a little.  I felt like an infant.  And I wanted to cry like one.
I didn't.  But I did just ask him to hold me for a minute, as we stood in the kitchen just then. And I confessed.  "I just. Don't. Know."
So {like the amazing husband he is} he gave me space.  Gave me time to breathe, played with Owen so I could process.  And thirty minutes later my brain decided to work enough to tell me we needed to go shopping.  And we did.
And we got bread and milk.
And then we came home.
And I wanted to cry again.
What the?!  What is wrong with me?!?
That night I started praying for God to help me get out of this funk, to explain it to me, something, anything to help me figure out what was wrong with me.
And that's when he answered: Re-entry.
And then I cried myself to sleep, like an infant.
The next morning I woke with a fresh revelation:  I. Am. Weary.
This is all being so hard, so brain-intensive, so emotionally draining because I am weary.
It took me stepping outside of life for four days to realize it.
For those four days (well, actually three, since one day was travel) I didn't have to think.  At all. My trip was paid for entirely {no worrying about budget}.  My transportation was all taken care of and planned {no worrying about fuel/driving/crashing into goats, etc.}.  Every meal was planned and provided {no worrying about meal prep/planning/cooking/cleanup}.  I literally just went along for the ride.  I was told when to be at breakfast, when to be on the bus, when to be in a meeting, and I did it.  For three whole days my brain got to go into hibernation.  This is not to say that I was a zombie walking around South Africa, if you read about the experience (linked above) then you'll see that clearly.  But it was truly and blissfully a time of rest.  Complete rest.  For the first time in at least two years, but probably a lot more.
And then I felt bad.
Wait a minute, we just went on a two week trip to South Africa for rest.  To escape the past very hard year.  To start fresh as a family and be renewed before the next school year started.  And it was all of that.  It was all of that and so much more.  But as I look back on it - it wasn't truly rest. I planned all the flights to get us there and back, the rental car situation, the excursions we were going to do, all the meals we were going to eat, the shopping that needed to be done, the budgeting for our special days we went into the city, etc., etc., etc.  It was fun.  It was a HUGE blessing.  But, for me, it wasn't true rest.
The thing is - this isn't a 'missionary' thing.  Sure, it may be magnified for missionaries because of the intensity of life in spiritual warfare, but it could happen to anyone.  I don't take enough time for me.  And so many of us don't.  And it has taken it's toll.  I'm treading water.  I love my life.  I love my position at the school.  I love our home and community and all that stuff.  But every day I feel weary.  No amount of coffee helps.  Chocolate only takes the edge off.  And honestly, I don't even know where to begin to ward off this weariness.  But the four days helped.  It helped me recognize the need within me to turn off my brain.  So now every day, I'm relying on God's grace to get me through.  And I'm seeking him more and more to show me ways that I can re-fuel, stay afloat at least, and make it toward that next, glorious time of true rest.  So, though I don't know exactly what to do, or how to achieve it, God's got me.  And he won't let me drown.