It’s been a very long time since I’ve written anything. In fact, the entire time I was in Nigeria, I didn’t find myself able to write anything at all. My lack of words while in the field, was definitely not an indication of the work or experiences had there. And honestly, my absence in writing was not due to just one thing or one reason.
My time in Nigeria, while full of adventure, love, and enlightening experiences, was not what I expected. It’s amazing to me that we as humans truly believe we can enter into any kind of experience, or even conversation, without even the slightest form of expectation. Even when we try to eradicate any amount of expectation from our preconceived notions of how life, or an event, will unfold, we are unsuccessful. It’s simply impossible to not expect something. Good, bad, exciting, devastating, or even “nothing”, we will still expect something.
My expectations: I believed the Lord was calling me to Nigeria for a longer period of time than just over three months. I expected to settle into life in Jos for at least two years, if not a lifetime, if the Lord would’ve allow it. I expected hard times, sure, but I never imagined having to survive a nearly fatal case of Malaria or trudging through relational turmoil as soon as I arrived on the field. I expected so many more things in and for Nigeria than what the Lord had in mind.
And that’s my take-away from my expectations. Although I still have zero doubt the Lord called me to Nigeria in the exact time He did, I know now it was for reasons beyond my view or imagination. And admittedly, some of those reasons are still unknown to me. And in that space of uncertainty, grief, and pain, I must choose to trust His timing and His ways. Because my expectations were not, and rarely are, His plans.
Do not misunderstand me. Although my time in Nigeria was difficult, I am not for one second sharing regret, anger, or bitterness. Because my three months in Nigeria were also incredibly beautiful, in almost every single way.
Nigeria reminded me to live in joy, to stand resolute on right and wrong, to laugh at myself often, to slow down and take in every moment as a precious memory, and to love as fully as I possibly can. And the ladies of the ministry I was working with, taught me more about grace than I even realized I needed education in. They loved deeply and honestly, and showed me how to do the same.
In 2 weeks, I will be returning to Jos, Nigeria to pack up my home there, and say goodbye to a place and people who managed to change my life and heart in just three short months. It’s a little crazy to me that one place could imprint itself on my heart so deeply in such a short amount of time, but it’s true. Nigeria was my home for just a short while but I believe she will remain with me for a lifetime.
When I return to the states in June, while I know I will most likely be hit with a wave of intense grief once again, I plan to carry it into what the Lord has next. I hope to use it for His story in my life. For me, that’s the only way to survive it. I have to let the Lord have the pain, let Him use the raw ache in my heart, and lean in to Him so that He may slowly heal the bleeding places of my soul, as He works for my good and His glory.
Giving the pain and leaning into the Lord is one of the scariest things for me, but I trust and know it will be so, so, SO good in the end. I love the line in C.S Lewis’ book, “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, when one of the children asks Mr. Beaver if Aslan (written to portray God) is safe. Mr. Beaver looks up and says,“Safe? Who said anything about safe? Course’ He isn’t safe! But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you!”
With faith in that good King, I move forward.