Monday, November 14, 2016

On Learning

One of my favorite writers/bloggers, Hannah Brencher, has long been slaying me and putting me in my place with her encouraging words and calls to action. This morning she wrote about what she's learned in the last year and asked her readers to respond to her email with what they've learned this last year. I thought I'd share my response with you here. What are you learning this year, love?


After I read your email I sat for a while at my desk. I sat at the desk I write at everyday, looking  into the eyes of the orphans I get to share stories for. A lot can happen in a year.

 A girl can grow from the bed of miserable she's built for herself over being single and nearly thirty to some sort of flourishing she never knew existed within her. You see, I've written you before - about the sadness that built up within me like plaque on a tooth. It grew harder and harder with time, refusing to crack and brush away from the surface of my heart or from underneath my collar bone. It clung tight - making the air thicker and more difficult to breathe. And then, almost like whiplash, I realized I'd spent a lot of years praying for something - for someone - and I wasn't entirely sure it's what I wanted in the first place. And now I am here, feeling okay about my current status - feeling welcoming at what may come, but confident in the fact that this life thing is manageable and enjoyable on my own.

A girl can start a new job. She can work for four years with an organization that is making a difference and and changing lives, and yet never feel fully "fitted" for what she's doing. And then that degree she was convinced was wasteful, ended up getting her a job she never could've hoped for. She gets to work on the behalf of vulnerable and fatherless children around the globe - raising her voice for those who don't yet know they possess one.

And those are both major things. I have learned so much in this last year - about waiting and praying. About what I see for my life and what the Lord knows for my life. About pocketing dreams, assuming they've expired, and my world being flipped upside down while God says, "It's expired when I say so, kid. And that ain't just yet. You with me?"

But the biggest lesson I've learned is likely this -- home is places. 

I used to think the farm I grew up on was home, and always would be. And it's certainly a piece of my home. But how can one location only ever be your whole history? Sure the yellow walls of that childhood bedroom know about the first crush I had and how fun that first slumber party was. They remember how loudly my heart was beating when a boy came into my room for the first time. They know about the little girl who grew to be a wild weed and then figured out how to find some middle ground to avoid sudden death of emotion and recklessness.

But the dirt on a campus in India knows about the moment my heart willingly broke to beat across oceans simultaneously. The open roof of the girls' home knows of the salt in my tears as I begged my Father to stay, to just stay right here. Why did I have to go back? The clattering of dishes and the rise and fall of songs in Telugu know of the moments when a girl recognized the woman in her and whispered, "Thanks for showing up here, for this very moment. I think we're gonna be okay."

The little two story on Morton Avenue knows about the joy that is found in solitude; the walls covered in syntax and gentle reminders know about the coming of age that occurred when a girl who hated to be alone finally started choosing herself.

And then there are the people who have come in and chosen to stay - time and time, again - who make any place home.

So, home is places. This is what I've learned. A heart can stretch far and wide and still remain faithful to the people who have, and will come to be, pages in a history. Each place I call home always reminds me of where I come from, who I've become, and the beauty in recognizing that being willing to bend often stops some of the breaking.

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