I was writing an email to a couple friends today, it was an email I’ve tried to write at least three times in the last two weeks. I’ve done a lot of deleting and not saving drafts. And as I was typing I started talking about how California was never a battle. Like physically. Living in Orange County, in the environment, the air, the ocean, the sunshine.
Sure my ten years in Orange County were filled with depression and sadness, death, broken friendships and tears. But I also did yoga, on the beach, while the sun went down. And Disneyland was my backyard. And I wore sandals most days. And nighttime beach trips after mojitos in Huntington.
I didn’t have to physically battle with the environment around me.
So I came to a weird realization as I haphazardly threw words on a page.
Washington is beating me up.
The weather, the lack of sunshine, the fact that said sunshine isn’t super warm.
And then I got to thinking to the world race and the countries that physically were the hardest: Peru (both months), South Africa, Mozambique and (duh) Cambodia.
Peru was dirty, all the time, and hot and sticky. But I can never get back the month spent in Trujillo with access to some of my favorite people all the time and I would have followed pastor Nestor all day and watched him interact with the people of Chincha. South Africa was cold and cold and cold and tiring and frustrating and sad, but when I walked out of the stable every morning I could see Table Mountain and I felt home. Mozambique it never stopped raining, everything was wet, cooking was an all day event, but the spirit of the Lord was there.
And Cambodia. Dirty, small eye, cellulitis, all the freakin things. But after a seemingly rough month in Thailand of team dynamics, I dare say the 112 was officially bonded for life over Cambodian princess pictures and also Cambodian small eye.
So, what I can learn from all these experiences is when the environment is tough and dirty, and wet and you spend too much money on Clorox wipes, sublime chocolate, Maui onion & balsamic chips and ice cold pop, that when the environment is wanting you to run, that maybe just maybe you need to stick around for the view from the top.
I remember when we were in Capetown and a group of us decided to spend one of our last days there climbing table mountain. Our contact said it wasn’t “too bad of a climb”.
It was a staircase up the side of the hill.
And I was maybe ten minutes and was the least physically capable person in the group and looked at the physical challenge facing me and wanted to throw in the towel. But the ladies wouldn’t have it. They wanted me to make it to the top with them.
And it took me longer and more breaks, but I did it.
And let me tell you–it is something I will never forget.
I will never forget that view, or the view of the rice fields in Cambodia, or the expanse of the land around the compound in Trujillo.
All those times I just wanted to out my head down and run, or sink into myself (or not be in a tent in Mozambique during the rain). All of those environments, physically were everything I find it hard to exist in. They all tried too, and sometimes succeeding in their attempt to beat me up and push me out before I had the ability to get to the top to see the view.
Those were really small seasons in life, 3-4 weeks tops. They are bookmarks in my story, a place where I have dogged eared the pages in order to remember and look back on.
Washington though, is life and home for the near future.
And it’s doing everything it can to beat me up.
Telling me that I can’t wear flip flops and shorts.
Telling me that I can’t be who I am here.
Telling me that I can’t make it to the top of the mountain and find the goodness.
Washington is trying to tell me I don’t fit.
YOU KNOW WHAT WASHINGTON?
If I ran from every place I didn’t feel like I fit in at I would be nowhere.
I didn’t feel like I fit in Spain, or at Vanguard, or in Kingsburg. I didn’t feel like I fit on Team BA and I was their leader. I don’t feel like I fit or have a place at any of the churches I attended/worked.
I have spent most of my life battling the environment around me and not feeling as if I fit in it.
I just had another listen to my now over a year old prayer and prophecy from grad week from G42. And all of them are crazy scary accurate to my life.
The last two were spoken by two men whose words I hold in high regard. And as I heard them again I realized that they had truths I need for now.
“But Meg, don’t diminish yourself or shrink back or hide to make the people around you feel comfortable but just unfurl yourself in the fullness of who you are and force them to catch up.”
“Where she takes a safe place with her, not leaving a safe place, you are a safe place….. you are going back out as a safe place”
Because, if I have learned anything from my years of traveling and being places where I didn’t feel as if I fit, it’s that at the end of the day I am still the same human, whether I am in the deserts of Peru or the rain of Washington or the sunshine of California. It’s taken me a lot to get to that place and (obviously) I’m still learning how to fully remember that when my brain feels spinny.
So that’s it. No solutions. Small epiphanies. Ugly truths.
But one I thing I know for sure: if the cellulitis, small eye filled village in Cambodia didn’t cause me to give up on who I am?
You don’t stand a chance Washington.