PASD (Post-Africa Stress Disorder)

Ever since returning, I’ve been restless at best, downright miserable at worst. I’ve been feeling this tug on my heart, like I’m homesick as I sit in the safety and comfort of my own room. Things that previously interested me seem unimportant and boring. The streets are empty. No one gives me thumbs up as I walk by, not that I’ve done much walking anyway. Everybody shows a shocking amount of skin. Kids look healthy and well-fed. I can talk to people without the fear that I’m viciously murdering their language by mispronouncing “nda” for the forty-sixth time, which is a strange thing to feel homesick about, but I do.

Simply put, I’m missing Africa, or at least what Africa represented. I had a job in Africa, and it was a fairly straightforward one: teach the kids. That was the one thing. That was all I had. When I woke up in the morning, that was my job. Yet in the return process that job number went up. Now, I’m a big sister who does school, practices music, finishes Confirmation homework, memorizes lines for the two plays I’m in, cleans the kitchen, renews library books, etc. All deeply enjoyable things, and I can’t complain about their difficulty because there is none. It’s a wonderful life to be sure.

But it’s not for me. If there’s one thing that Africa has helped me realize, it is that living my life out in the United States is not what God has planned for my life.

What frustrates me is that dropping your life isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve already ruled out pulling a Sherlock and faking my death or hiding myself in a suitcase en route to Malawi. Unfortunately, that’d be more likely to get me arrested than start me off on a mission. And, per usual, there’s that pesky Satan, who every darn time you attempt to launch yourself into action decides to be like the blankets in that one Calvin and Hobbes strip.

“You want to leave your comfy life? NICE TRY, SUCKER.”

Popping out of peace, financial security, and cheap pleasure is the path less traveled for a reason: getting on it (and staying on it) isn’t particularly easy. I know for a fact that I will struggle with it for the rest of my life, seeing as I haven’t even gotten on it yet. How does one go about something like this?

My first response is to look at the technical details. The immense cost of traveling, the organizations I would want to affiliate with, finding where my assistance would be most needed, what I can even do in situations I’m unfamiliar with, yadda yadda yadda. But my second response is to look in the Bible and ask God for what he wants me to do. The technicalities are a small fraction of a far bigger picture.

I worry and cry and beat myself over the head with questions and accusations and fear fervently wishing for the things that could be and stressing myself out over what to do, and all the while I’m forgetting that there’s a God by my side and a Bible in my hands that can answer everything.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

I have overcome the world.

Why am I stressing about a battle when the war has been won from the start? Why does my heart tremble in fear of my enemies when they have already been defeated? Why does the world frighten me when my God has overcome it?

Normally at the end of these posts I like to give some kind of closing sentence. A conclusion. An end to the rambling madness that happened above. But you can’t do that when the story isn’t finished. I still don’t know what I’m going to do. God isn’t finished with me and he won’t be until I’m dead. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to make a part two of this post. Something celebratory, even if it’s the minuscule victory of spending my Saturday morning helping people rather than sleeping in.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Prayer would be much appreciated.

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One thought on “PASD (Post-Africa Stress Disorder)

  1. Prayer? You got it. Keep wrestling with these ideas, pulling out Jeremiah 29:11 as your trump card. Maybe get a tattoo of it. Wait–how about a nice poster instead? 😉

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