Afraid of Africa (a post about callings, a post about courage)

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“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Joseph Campbell

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Joseph Campbell

Lis and her husband relocated two weeks ago to Tanzania, Africa. She asked for prayer to lighten her sadness about leaving behind belongings, friends, and family including her three-year-old granddaughter who calls her Lolly. She asked for prayer to calm anxieties about things like plane crashes and Ebola. And she asked for prayer because it’s scary to move to Africa.

She’s now settling into a routine, but not like one we have. Her luggage hasn’t arrived, the toilet and sink overflowed into her new-to-them home, and both the refrigerator and washer stopped working last week. Despite all this, Lis committed to Africa because she’s committed to God.

Her faith was evident when she returned home to say goodbye to her parents before leaving for two years. It was evident when she got vaccinations that threatened to make her sick. And it was evident when she packed the bare minimum because that’s all she was allowed to take.

Her faith was most evident when she posted photos of her final goodbyes with her daughter and granddaughter.

“If she can leave behind the life she loves and physically relocate to Africa, surely I can sit in the comfort of my own home and tackle my own “Africa” (writing a book). What am I so afraid of?”

I thought it might help to share –

  • I’m afraid of being judged. I’m pretty sure some of my feelings aren’t theologically sound, but they’re part of my story.
  • I’m afraid of being misunderstood.
  • I’m afraid there won’t be enough time for relationships while I’m writing and editing.
  • I’m afraid my story will come across as pathetic rather than powerful.
  • I’m afraid I’ll sound like I’m blaming (especially my parents) because sometimes I am. There’s a fine line between telling what happened and whining.

So, why write the book?

Because I think God is calling me to this “Africa,” and because I saw for myself (in photos) how Lis came alive holding one of the children she’s now ministering to.

I want to be that kind of alive.

What’s your “Africa”? What’s stopping you from starting?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Dear God, I’ve started and stopped, started and stopped … until now. I’m finally convinced the book is our project and now is our time.

On the side: Thanks for the photo and the inspiration, Lis. I love you.

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16 responses »

  1. We faced the same fears when we wrote Grandma Layton’s memoir/biography, SIGNS ALONG THE WAY, but we knew she wanted her story told as she’d written most of it herself. If you’ve not seen Grandma Layton’s Glory drawing it is a good thought to keep, under the print Grandma wrote “all glory comes from daring to begin”, a quote by Eugene Ware. I know she would tell you everyone has a story, and like her art, the healing can be in the telling! Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!

  2. I honestly don’t know what to say or how to thank you for sharing a piece of “me” with your readers. I’m convinced that THIS BOOK of yours is definitely THE PROJECT that GOD has for the two of you. I love you, my sweet Kimmy and on the side-you have NO idea how much your encouragement and friendship has meant and CONTINUES to mean—to me. ❤

  3. My Africa seems to be broken down into so many states I’m not sure where to start in completing the goals. So sometimes I do nothing. Well, not nothing exactly. I TALK about what I’m going to do – or what I SHOULD do. OK, Kim – if you’re going to Africa, I’ll stop TALKING about goals and go with you.

    • Oh, Shel, are we twins? I keep looking at our pics and we don’t really look enough alike, but our actions … I mean, our talking. Well, it just seems we’ve got too much in common not to be closely related. Africa would be a lot less scary if you’d come along.

  4. I have been reading a lot about prayer in the past few months. The more I read, the more I seem to “stumble” across more books, readings, and commentaries about why it’s so critical in deepening our relationships with God. I don’t know if what I’m thinking has any bearing here, but recently my personal “aha” was that I need to stop praying I will tackle/finish/attempt all the things I want (or think I need) to do, and just pray for a passion for whatever it is He wants me to do. This is a daunting revelation because what if it’s something that is not even on my radar?

    You have a passion for writing, and our passions are gifts from Him. You can trust Him to travel with you to your Africa. I will surely pray for you and your friend. You’re both embarking on amazing journeys!

    • I can so relate, Natine. I remember walking out of a conference about a year ago, after listening to a missionary from Haiti, and saying, “I’m not going to Haiti.” It made the heads spin of the friends who were with me because we all know not to say what we won’t do. I quickly changed it to, “I mean, I hope he doesn’t want me to go.” I was so moved by her story, but it was because of her passion (your comment may have finally helped me identify this), not because I was supposed to room with her. 🙂 Thank you, God.

      I love your “aha” moment. I needed to hear it. God and passion will get me through this project, not pulling myself up by my bootstraps. Remind me, okay? I appreciate your prayers and I know Lis will too. And I’ll be praying that whatever your passion is, God breaks it to you gently and it’s not too scary. By the way, I wanted to write humor pieces, not big drama. I’m still shocked because a suicide post and ones like it were not on my radar!

      Thanks for your friendship and your wisdom.

      • Interesting anecdote about your Haiti comment. Last fall I emphatically stated to my Sunday school class I would NEVER go on a mission trip to countries like Panama and Cuba. I knew as soon as the words were out God was laughing. In June I went to Cuba. He’s still laughing. 😉

  5. Kim, I love this post. Of course, you know I am still finding excuses not to tackle my own Africa of the moment. Some days I feel like all I’ve done in recent years is conquer my fears about various Africas. Moving from PA to SC was surely one of those. But the book still eludes me, for some of the reasons you’ve mentioned. Anyway, thanks for another thought-provoking post.

    • Mary, it’s comforting when others (like you) share their struggles with the same sorts of things. I think most of us have many “Africas” that can’t be tackled all at once. I also think they come in an order that may not make sense to us, but that God orchestrates. Seems our books are later-in-life Africas and I’m grateful for that. I’d hate to think what I would have written years ago. Thanks for sharing the journey!

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