In early 2013, I was living in a city in Africa that had a lot of unrest and violence. In March of that year, a major terrorist group sent a car bomb into a crowded bus park a few blocks away from my apartment. I remember hearing the blast and knowing it was a bomb. Over 150 people died that day. Also, there was a general threat against Westerners in that area, and I was constantly told to be careful. Not to leave, but just be careful. Then in April, 2013, I got a phone call from the administrative office of the organization I was with telling me I had three weeks to leave the city and move five hours away, where the office was located. Three weeks to pack my entire house and put everything in storage, finish up the college English course I was teaching, pack the children’s library I ran, end the after-school program I taught, and say goodbye to all my friends, all while dealing with health issues and the frustration and despair that comes when it feels like your life is falling apart. Being a procrastinator, I waited until the very last moment to pack, hoping secretly that this was a nightmare and I’d just wake up. Thankfully, a very patient friend came to help me pack and in three days, I went from a cluttered, full house to an empty one. But when I went to bed the night before I left my house finally, I was nearly shaking with all the panic and grief involved in such a manic packing situation. I packed about three outfits, some food, and a few toiletries, and I moved to another city for five weeks before flying back to the U.S. I nearly burst into tears on the plane from the pent up emotions that I had tucked away all those weeks.
When I moved home, I house-sat for several months for an older couple who were travelling around the U.S. The owners gave me an estimate of when they’d return, but one afternoon, weeks before their estimated return date, they called to say they had a problem and were returning that evening. In a panic, I packed up all my things, cleaned, and did laundry in about an hour and a half. All the emotions of leaving my home in Africa came rolling back in that moment. I drove into my parents’ driveway shaking.
After that, I moved into an apartment, but in late 2014, I had to return to my parents’ house to live for while because my illness had gotten so bad. I hung onto the apartment, though, paying the rent, believing that I’d get better any day now and be able to move back in. I didn’t want to loose that independence. I was terrified of losing it, really.
Today, after a very disturbing phone call with my landlord, I had to make the decision to move in permanently with my parents. I have an apartment full of beautiful things that I now have to pack away. The panic, the grief, the anxiety from leaving Africa once again returned. I know that God is in control, but quite frankly, I don’t know how I’m going to get through this week. After the tone of the conversation with my landlord, I think I need to leave fairly quickly. I’m grieving over the loss of my independence. It feels final, even though I’m believing that it’s not. I have no idea how I’m going to have the energy to pack. I’m trusting the Lord, but I’m going through a series of awful emotions about this move. My parents have been amazing about all this, and I’m sure we’ll survive. But seriously, I never want to move again. Never.