I was at the grocery store today, when I took a giant leap into my reclaimed American-ness.
I used the self-checkout lane.
The supervisor guy walked towards me quickly and I immediately looked around- wondering if there was some sort of ‘self- checkout’ protocol I had forgotten about. He came up next to me, grabbed some discarded baskets and then walked away. I breathed a totally unnecessary sigh of relief.
I followed the instructions- luckily they were pretty idiot proof (I’ve been feeling like an idiot a lot lately)- and proceeded to swipe my credit card.
And then something profound popped up on the credit card machine’s little screen.
It’s profound in itself that I found this profound, because my mind’s been a bit to slow for ‘profound’ recently.
But it stopped me in my tracks.
“Processing- please wait.”
Now, I understand that it was talking about my credit card … but it got me thinking.
“Processing… please wait.”
I should have that stamped on my forehead.
In the past year, I literally traveled all the way around the world. I lived in countless places, slept in countless beds, traveled on planes, trains, busses, taxis, tuk tuk’s, weird Thai trucks where somehow it’s safe to put benches in the bed of it, and walked for miles with all of my belongings strapped to my back.
I lived with people I loved and people I found hard to love. I went through times where I was lovable and times where loving me was a bit of a challenge. I was pushed, pulled, stretched and forced out of my comfort zone time and time again.
And coming home after all of that is a change and a big one.
When you’re gone for so long, you begin fantasizing about what you’re going to do when you get home. You list your favorite foods, your favorite spots in your favorite city and you begin to try to remember what you left packed in your closet (a totally new wardrobe now that you forgot all about it!)
There were a million things that I dreamed of doing when my feet hit American soil, and I have to admit, I haven’t done many of them. Not only that, but the few that I HAVE done, have lacked the weight of attention and appreciation that makes experiences truly memorable. I’ve just been too tired.
Instead of running around to coffee dates, lunches and nights on the town, I have to really persuade myself to leave my house.
I like it here and I’d like to stay for a while. I fall asleep every night in front of the Olympics on my couch, and at about 9:30, my mom wakes me up and gently coaxes me up to bed. I haven’t taken on Denver, I haven’t seen more than a few friends, and I haven’t done hardly any of the things I spent so long dreaming about.
I’ll venture out eventually.
And in this, I’m trying to learn to give myself the grace that the credit card machine requested for itself.
“Processing… please wait.”
I haven’t been sad much since being home- but tonight, as I was driving through Denver, I found myself with the heaviest heart, just sad for a reason that I couldn’t really pinpoint.
I drove through town seeing places where I’d been on dates, where I had my first TV internship, and then down the road, where I had my last. It’s weird being in a place that feels new but also holds the memories of a lifetime of joys and losses all wrapped into one sparkling metropolis.
I didn’t cry- but I was surprised when I realized I sort of wanted to.
We’re erratic creatures (recently docked missionaries), we cry without reason, we cannot totally get on board with carrying cell phones, and I seriously began scouting for a place to go to the bathroom the other night while I was on a walk. (Debating between various neighbor’s yards before I remembered that that’s not ok here.)
That totally inexcusable (almost)-behavior aside, we’re all processing this thing differently. But we certainly are in process.
It’s not bad- it’s definitely beautiful- and Jesus is teaching us as much in this season as He did in the last. But that doesn’t mean that it makes sense and that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily easy.
And that’s ok.
My plea is that if you know someone coming off of the World Race, or any experience for that matter, give them heaping amounts of grace. Ask them how they’re doing, and don’t ask much of them. Allow them the space and time to talk if they need to, but also allow them to be quiet if they don’t have much to say.
If they burst randomly into tears, don’t be surprised, just give them a hug.
But what we need more than anything is time and rest.
We really, really need sleep, and we need your help in turning down fun movie dates, dinners out and parties. I’m terrible at saying ‘no’ to things that sound fun. But what I need more than anything is to pass out on the couch at 9:30 with my parents.
We need to know that it’s ok that we’re in process. We need to know that it’s ok that we don’t have this whole thing figured out and that it’s ok if we cry a little, laugh a little, remember a little and then sleep a LOT.
It’s beautiful and funny and weird and hard. But it’s a process… and so whatever happens between here and the beginning of the next process is totally and completely ok.
So to you- our adorable and eager family and friends- but more to ourselves, we need this reminder. A reminder to rest, breathe and to forgive ourselves in the process of the meantime.