learning to let go

My man is leaving me.  Not for another woman or forever or anything like that.

He’s leaving for the summer.

I found out about a half an hour ago and it hasn’t really hit me yet.  I’m trying to keep myself from thinking about it, or I’ll cry and cry and cry.

He’s going to Bangladesh.

This summer I’ll be in Greeley, completing my internship, looking for a job, spending time with friends, enjoying the warm weather, and missing my man.

We’ve been dating for two summers.  And we’ve been apart for both of those summers.

Long distance relationships are not fun, especially when you can’t have any contact with one another.   The trip that the bf is going on allows him to send one group email home a week, as well as a 20-minute phone call home to immediate family every two weeks.  Which means there will be no contact between us from when he leaves until he gets back home.

I want to support this and believe he has pure motives in going, but it’s hard for me not to think that he wants to go because his best friend is going and because Bangladesh is where his friend/discipler moved last July.  And because he wants to get one last adventure in before he gets a job and ‘settles down.’

As he left my house tonight, he said, “You better get this single bug out of you, because once I get back, we’re getting married.”  I chuckled briefly and said, “I don’t know about that…”

To me, him leaving postpones everything.  It postpones an engagement and a therefore a wedding as well.  It postpones him getting a job and learning to live alone (without the eight guys he lives with now) and fend for himself like adults do.   It postpones us growing closer to one another.

Him leaving makes me want to withdraw and not invest very much of myself in the relationship, because perhaps doing so will help me miss him less while he’s gone.  I don’t want to get too attached to something that’s leaving soon.  That just makes the good-byes and time apart even more painful, at least in my eyes.

I’m so scared to hurt and miss him and cry, or at worse, lose him completely.  I’m scared that things will be different when he returns.  I’m scared that we’ll take so many steps backwards while he’s gone and have to regain a good deal of ground.  I’m scared that I’ll be lonely without my best friend and lover, my handsome prince.

Here begins a journey of learning to let go…from now until he departs, in roughly three months.  Dear Lord, hold me tightly!

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break my heart till it moves my hands and feet

I really love music.  I can’t sing or play an instrument or keep a beat, but I can listen.  I listen in the car.  I listen while I’m baking.  I listen on the plane.  Everywhere, really.  iTunes and Pandora and KLOVE are my best friends.  A line from a song that was on the radio while I was driving to my internship today has stuck with me:

“Why don’t you break my heart ’til it moves my hands and feet?”

How true this has become in my own life.

I’ve never really felt like I have passions.  I’m not into playing guitar or sewing or Africa or photography.  I like a lot of things.  I’m not good at a whole lot.  That being said, for some reason, my heart doesn’t break  a whole lot.

Yet God knows that it needs to so that I can learn to love like He does.

Today I took a father, Jo, and his son, Steven, to a pediatric cardiologist.  They’re refugees.  I’ve had a lot of interaction with the boy’s mother, Ja, in recent weeks, so I’ve had a fair amount of contact with the family.  Ja had surgery about three weeks ago so I’ve been picking her up and bringing her home from ‘school’ at the refugee center where I’m interning.  I’ve been asking her about her life and she’s been telling me about it.  Here’s some of their story:

Ja says that she’s from Burundi, but she’s never been there.  She lived the first 28 years of her life in refugee camps in Tanzania and Kenya.

The only home she knew was a tent.

There are two bedroom tents, three bedroom tents, depending on how many family members you have, she tells me.

But they’re still tents.

Every two weeks they get food, which they have to make last for two weeks.  Some people grow things outside of the camp, but if you don’t, all you have to eat is what you’re given at the camp.

When she first came to America, she lived in Maryland, with her husband and their five children.

Her son Steven has had a few heart surgeries and currently has a hernia.  He also wears hearing aids but is nearly deaf.  Steven recently got glasses as his vision is rapidly declining as well.  Steven is 12 years old, and is Ja and Jo’s oldest child.

Jo rides his bike an hour to an hour and half every day to work at a meatpacking plant.  His shift begins at 3pm in the afternoon, and finishes at 1am.  He then rides his bike back home, arriving around 2 or 2:30 in the morning.

Recently, Ja and Jo had to go to court for a child neglect case.  Ja left their children at home while Jo was at work one afternoon, and now the family is being monitored by Child Protection Services.

At a meeting at the refugee center where someone from Child Protection Services was presenting about a month ago, Ja stood up and said, “Before I came to America, I was told that the government would teach me how to be a parent.  I didn’t have parents growing up.  I grew up in refugee camps.  No one told me I couldn’t leave my kids at home with their brother who is 12.”

Spending time with Ja, and now Jo and Steven, has broken my heart.  To the point that my hands and feet are moving.  Jesus is helping me see how He loves them and doesn’t want me to just watch these things happen and go unnoticed.  I love this family.  They may not have much to offer me and they may be refugees and they may not get me a job or into graduate school, but I love them.  May my hands and feet move and show them that they are loved by Jesus and by me.

you look good

Tonight one of my housemates said, “You look good.  Have you lost weight?”

Okay, who doesn’t want to hear that?

Inside my mind, multiple voices battle to be heard and declared the best.

One says,”No you haven’t.  That’s silly.  Must have been the shirt you were wearing or the angle or the lighting or a combination of all of the above.”

Another says,”You do look good.  She’s right.  Way to go on eating healthier!”

Yet another says,”You look okay.  Better than before, that’s for sure.  Keep up the wheat-free, dairy-free diet for a while and before long you’ll look even better.  Just think how many people would say something then!”

Do any of you out there know what I’m talking about?  This isn’t something I can really cover in a blog at 11pm at night, or any blog for that matter.  These things are hard and even harder to put into words.

I keep getting distracted…looking up who wore what to the Oscar’s tonight…writing a sentence here…reading more about Mark and Grace Driscoll…writing another sentence…texting…using Facebook…writing an (insignificant) email…so on and so forth.  Goodnight!

the somalian restaurant

I went to my internship today, as usual.  About an hour in, the director suggested that we go to lunch.  I usually like to pass on this offer for a couple of reasons:  I don’t get to count the time we spend at lunch as internship hours.  I also think it’s kind of awkward.  There’s not much to talk about, and my co-workers aren’t super outgoing/conversationalist.  But this time, the director wouldn’t take no for an answer.  And now, I’m glad he didn’t.

We went to a Somalian restaurant that just opened yesterday…I don’t even know if it has a name yet!  But it was awesome.  I felt like I had teleported to another country once I walked in the door.  Those working there (only two people) speak very little English.  There weren’t menus or salt and pepper shakers or even glasses of water.  We got two plates of samples of all of the food they offer!  Yellow rice and tortilla/pita-type bread things, goat and beef.  Some shredded iceberg lettuce and sad-looking tomatoes on the side too.  We sampled all of the items with our fingers, aside from the rice, which we had three spoons to share among the four of us.  Doesn’t this sound like another country?

I made it clear: no dairy or wheat for me.  So said the tortilla/pita-type bread things would be a good choice since they have white flour.  The three of us girls exchanged smiles.  No, even though it’s white, it’s still, wheat and thus I can’t have it.  Shortly afterwards, they brought me a large plate of yellow rice and goat.  With shredded iceberg lettuce and sad-looking tomato slice on the side.  Oh and a banana too.  I asked if it was for dessert, since its common to have fruit for dessert in many countries.  The director showed me that, no, it was for the meal.  He cut it up with the spoon and put it on top of the rice, showing me how to take a spoonful of rice and a slice of banana.  I must admit, it was yummy.

I had so much food leftover, I have a full takeout box full of goat (bones still in), yellow rice, and an unpeeled banana for the rest of my rice.  I also have a to-go cup full of Kenyan tea.  At first the combination of its temperature and sweetness stunned me, causing my face to do things I didn’t want it to do, making the woman working at the restaurant laugh.  I didn’t mean to react in such a way, nor did I know she was watching.

Little things reminded me of China: the way the people watched me eating and the way one person takes your order, assuming you already know what’s offered and what you want, and then brings it to you, takes your money, cleans your table, and also makes the food.  Oh, and the same person sits and watches you eat in between doing those things.

It was an excellent experience…I would love to take the bf there, but seeing how I speak no Somali, it maybe quite an adventure.  I asked if the people working at the restaurant own(ed) the goats that we were eating.  The director told me they come from goats in the area…I had no idea there were goats in the area.  I certainly haven’t seen any grazing around town.