Regrets and Lessons

As our project in Chad is finishing up, I look back and think of a few regrets I have. The biggest is that I never formed a community of people that I can be vulnerable with. I have friends here, and we spend time with other missionary families, but I can’t say that I took the time to find safe people here.

I learned about safe people when Robert and I started marriage counseling and recovery 7 years ago. During that time, I learned that safe relationships are where we can be present with one another, connecting on a deep level; we receive grace and acceptance with no condemnation, giving us freedom from the fear of rejection; we can speak the truth to one another, confronting each other as needed. (Cloud-Townsend, Safe People) These types of relationships are not easily formed. They take time and energy and vulnerability.

Being an introvert, it’s never been easy for me to make safe friends. I have lots of friends whom I don’t mind sharing some intimate details, but there aren’t many with whom I’m truly vulnerable.

I wasn’t always this guarded. I built a lot of walls to guard my emotions after my dad passed away. And I built these walls even higher when my marriage fell apart. I was embarrassed, angry, and disappointed and wasn’t ready to share those feelings with anyone. Through counseling and support groups, I learned who my safe people are, but I still struggle with letting my walls down around them.

I thought this would make being a missionary easier – that it would help me to not be lonely while so far from family and friends. But this year has taught me that I was wrong. I’ve learned that wherever I am, I need to be vulnerable with people who are physically close to me – not a phone call, text, or email away.

I noticed on our first trip to Chad that there was a great missionary community here. I thought we’d fit in right away. I didn’t think my walls would keep me from immediately connecting with new people. But they did.

When we first arrived, I was exhausted from the transition and enjoyed spending time alone and with the friends we already had here. It wasn’t until the New Year when I realized that while these friends are great, they’re not as familiar or safe to me as my friends back home are. I was so homesick then that I didn’t have the energy to try and connect deeper, to be vulnerable with these friends.

I wish I would have responded differently. If I could go back to last September, I would try and force myself to be vulnerable and develop a safe community among the missionaries here in Chad.

But since going back is impossible, I can only take this regret and learn from it.
I can fully embrace my safe people from now on. I realize how important they are and how much I need my them around me. I want to sit on their couches and have them sit on mine and talk to them face to face. I want to tear down my walls and let them in completely.

I don’t want to take these friendships for granted. I don’t want to hold myself back from them. I don’t want my walls to keep me from being open. I want to embrace the community around me…no matter where I live.

Advertisements

Weekends in Chad

It is Friday!

I’ve always loved my weekends. They are a much needed break in between school and work. They give me time to relax, get personal things done, spend time with loved ones, etc. But I really, really, really love my weekends in Chad.

Saturday mornings start off very similar to how they did in the States. We sleep in, lounge around, and make pancakes for brunch. After everyone is fed – and I’m caffeinated, we each go our separate ways and decide whether we want to read, play, watch a movie, or just stare off into space.

After doing one or all of the above, we gather back together to eat a late lunch/early dinner. Sometimes we decide to play a board game or watch a movie together and other times we decide to each go our separate ways and read, play, watch a movie, or just stare off into space again.

Sundays are just as nice. We attend an English-speaking church service two Sunday mornings each month. The other two Sunday mornings are spent relaxing just like Saturdays. Sunday afternoons differ for me though. I spend my time in the kitchen by myself. I make cookies and muffins for the coming week’s breakfasts and snacks. It’s just me, my music, and my recipes. I love it!

Come Sunday evening, a few missionary families will meet up to play volleyball and hang out. Robert and the kids often join in the fun. But me? You’ll find me hiding in our quiet, dark apartment reading by the light of my Kindle.

Every now and then, the kids might have a birthday party to attend or we’ll spend a few hours with friends, but for the most part, our weekends are very slow. Some may say they are boring. But to me they are lovely.

Weekends in Chad are this introvert’s dream!

1D1B460D-CAC0-49C4-A366-1DEA48D35E1C

Saturday morning bedhead –  no one needs to see this pic enlarged. Ha!

IMG_5133

A slow morning with a taste and smell of autumn

Processed with VSCO with kk1 preset

Weslee enjoying some alone time in the sun. I think she’s a bit introverted like her momma.