Love bridging two worlds

Love bridging two worlds

I walk around and I’m really two people (or maybe more…). I’m then and I’m now. There are so many different experiences that make up who I am today, who I am now. But how do I live in the today when the yesterday is so vivid and real to me, but maybe not relevant to the situation at hand? A simple balloon popping makes me jump, fireworks send my heart racing, and generally those around me don’t think much about it. It sends me right back to where I was hiding in our little tiled bathroom (where we didn’t even have a flushing toilet) in Conakry when military drove up and down the street, shooting into the air and herding people like cattle. There was a mass shooting at a stadium just down the street from our apartment, and the capital was in absolute chaos. We would soon have to evacuate the country and head to another West African country, leaving behind friends, our church, our African host family, and many of our possessions, along with our hopes and dreams to set up and live there long-term as missionaries in a nearby village. Day in and day out, I feel torn between the culture we live in now, the culture we were born into, and the Guinean and Senegalese cultures that became our host cultures for many years. It can leave me feeling isolated and lonely to feel like I don’t fully fit in either culture.
I also feel at times like a stranger living this life as a mom but also unable (and unwilling) to forget the many years of negative pregnancy tests, negative blood tests, and failed fertility treatments we experienced. I’m a mom who didn’t think she’d ever be here, but can also relate to the struggle before me and my mom friends as we try and grasp the magnitude of the responsibility of raising these little souls.
I can relate to the frustration of your local store not having your grocery store pickup item, but we also lived with friends (who are still there) in landmine territory. How do I relate to the here and now while all along I can’t escape the realities of where we lived and what it was like? I can relate to a bruised and swollen belly as you go through your 3rd or 4th fertility treatment, but I also relate to the overwhelming day in and out of teaching, training, correcting, responding to, changing, buckling, tucking, and feeding kids!
I don’t really know how to live in between so many worlds at once. I guess all I can do is continue to be grateful for the lessons learned through those experiences and take hold of the lessons I’m learning now as I look back on what was, on what made me who I am today. In these lessons I never want to stop looking and listening to others in their here and now. What have they gone through? What are they going through? What are they trying to say? How can I relate in some way? Do I pull from the experience of this season I’m in or the season I’ve just come out of? And it all makes me wonder, what was God’s plan in allowing me to go through that season, meet that person, survive that thing, or see God in that way? And if I can’t relate, how can I love and respect them and listen to them in their “was” or “is” life situation?
The beauty is that the pain of isolation, the heartache of grief, fear, PTSD, and struggles can translate across cultural boundaries and even across various seasons of our lives if we let God’s voice be what guides us as we interact with others. Let His grace and compassion be what ties our hearts to the couple struggling to get pregnant, let our grace and generosity be evident as we interact with those living in poverty. I don’t want these experiences to make me feel isolated, even though that can happen when two worlds collide. I want, instead, for love to be the central theme between the various worlds and lives that make me who I am. I want love to be the bridge.


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