Every June 3 I will make this blog post:
“XX years since I returned from living in Uganda.”
It’s impossible NOT to write about the year of my life that has had such an impact on who I am today.
This post today is 2 years since I got back from Uganda. The excitement has faded some, but is still there. The pain has faded some, but is still there. The scars are still pretty fresh, but I also know why I have them. God doesn’t want me to forget.
Only 1/35 of my life was spent in Uganda, yet I think about it every single day.
Seriously. Every. Single. Day.
How could I forget? It was best AND worst year of my life thus far.
So many of the memories were experiences that blew my mind. Washing feet at the jigger clinic. Visiting the babies at the baby home. The amazing chocolate cake at Cafe Javas. Stoney! Trips to Kenya. Late nights with my roommates dancing in our living room. Getting to teach the greatest teens from around the world. Going on safari. The list goes on an on.
Somehow, depression made its way in. Doubt made its way in. Insecurity took over my life, and I felt like I had no one, not even God, to save me. Few people know this about my time in Uganda, but it was the first time I ever seriously considered ending my own life, and that’s mainly because I truly believed that no one cared about me. I look back now and see how untrue that was, but you couldn’t have told me that at the time.
Needless to say, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” What ended up helping towards the end of my stay was learning that I wasn’t alone. Others were hurt. Others were struggling. But our school was less than supportive when we needed it most.
I’m working on having grace for the people who hurt me and others. It’s not easy, but who am I to judge them for not having grace on those of us who struggled? I should model what I preach. I need to forgive. Easier said than done.
Wow. Two years later and I’m still processing. Two years later and it still hurts. Two years later and I still miss Uganda every single day.
I wish had something more profound to say. Maybe it’s this: I wouldn’t change a thing.
Two years ago I stepped foot on American soil after a year in Uganda, and I was a totally different person. And I continue to change. God isn’t going to let my suffering be in vain.
My prayer is that when I post my “3 years since I returned from living in Uganda,” I’ll have found the grace to forgive, not only those who hurt me, but also forgive myself for mistakes I made while I was there. I hope to have processed more, grown more, and accepted the fact that if I’m going to want people to show me grace, I’m going to have to show it to others as well.
I am a work in progress. I should probably walk around with an “Under Construction” sign around my neck. It’s a sign I would have to wear the rest of my life because I am so, so far from perfection or anything near it.
Most milestones in my life are now built around my year in Uganda because that’s when everything changed for me. And like I said, I wouldn’t change a thing.