I am just one week shy of being back stateside for a full month. As I have seen so many familiar faces, I get the very familiar question.... “How was your trip?” There are many reasons this question is a hard one for me.
#1) It is scientifically impossible for me to take 4 months of outrageously amazing adventures and experiences and shove it into 3 or 4 sentences.
#2) Even though I know that question is vastly approaching, I can never truly prepare for the emotions it evokes because everyday of re- entry (the process of coming back into one's home culture), I am “unpacking” and processing a different part of my journey. Who knows what part of my journey I am processing the moment someone asks that beautifully complicated question.
#3).... #1 and #2 are plenty, but alas, I could truly name a dozen, but then I would have to think of another title because then the focus wouldn’t be on defining “Struggle Bus” and why I am currently riding it. But before I can begin my definition, I must set the scene a little more.
So after the question escapes the lips of said human, whom I love with all my heart, I then fumble through a few sentences of what I have already unpacked and processed to share bits of the goodness of my trip and something that God did that changed me in a powerful way. Then comes the next question that flows out in various forms. “So are you glad to be home?” Or “How are you adjusting to being back home?” Or even still “How’s your heart with coming home after all that God used you to do?”
Now theses are the questions that I am currently still unable to answer at the moment. What I can answer, is that I am truly happy to be “home”. I do love all that Jesus does where I live and in the amazing ministry in which He has placed me. I feel overwhelmed by His Goodness every week because of the people we get to love. But as far as my heart or how I “feel”, I feel torn. Torn between so many places that words lose meaning if I tried to explain it. Thus enters said “Bus”.
In the places I go, we often turn a phrase that greatly expresses life in ministry. There are days that one weary heart turns to another and simply states, “I am really on the struggle bus today”. Or maybe even the verb tense when the bus just isn’t expressive enough as a noun. “I am Struggle Busing it today!” As a missionary or someone in full time ministry, there is this idea thrown around that we are all transported around by the wind of the Holy Spirit. As true as I wish this were.... it’s a lie from the pit of hell. The truth is sometimes you are indeed onboard the struggle bus, and those wheels are not exactly going round and round. But the Goodness of God IS, the Wind of the Holy Spirit may not sweep in and transport you to your destination. But it for sure will sweep in and blow subtly across your face and neck. Not because He has to, but because He loves you and because He wants to! It’s in those moments that the rickety bus of struggle is chugging along, hitting every pot hole the size of Africa, that I hear His whisper. “At least you’re moving, and you're moving forward!” You see, even in my struggle I am still moving forward. I know that I won’t stay on this means of transportation and as soon as I look to Him, I see His plans for a bus stop. You don’t always get to pick the type of struggle. I didn’t ask that man to bring me his dying child in an African village where hospitals are scarce and witch doctors rule by fear. I can’t force the temple prostitute to stop selling herself for food. I don’t get to choose the struggles I face, but I do have choices. I can choose to sit by the broken window on that bus and let the Holy Spirit speak to me. I can choose to trust in His Goodness and in His truth and get off that bus the FIRST time it stops. Transparency used to feel like a trap, but now I see it as the first stop to getting off that bus and choosing a different mode of transportation. He is so good and so faithful I can’t help but ride with Him, and He loves all of my journey. Even the times when my burden outweighs my desire for forward motion. That’s why, even in that, He has plan. I take His yoke and His load full of promise and purpose and He carries mine... and at times He even carries me.