January marks the 6th month since I have returned from my year in Rwanda. I rejoined my family in Illinois, I've taught and preached about my experience at 4 different churches, I got a job, I've started school, I even got a tattoo to comemmorate my time in Rwanda. Life has moved on, but sometimes it feels as though my heart and mind have not. But, I think that's the way it's supposed to be.
As people ask me how I'm doing or adjusting back to America, I find that there are still things I struggle with, and I'm left wondering if maybe I'm not adjusting anymore, maybe the differences about me are actually just who I am now. There are things I struggle with everyday - prices, privilege, entitlement, food, technology dependence - and I struggle to find ways to cope with every situation, sometimes successfully, and sometimes not. For example, on Christmas Day, I almost had a breakdown watching my 4-year-old nephew playing with his toys and realizing that he doesn't know how lucky he is and how grateful he should be.
I struggle between wanting to hear from my friends in Rwanda, and wanting to talk about my time there, to not wanting to acknowledge it ever happened because I miss it so much it hurts to think about. I struggle to not respond to every conversation with an anecdote about Rwanda because my friends and family are seriously tired of it at this point. I struggle with living in this broken, deceit-fueled country, remembering that my time in Rwanda felt fairly idyllic at times, though it was anything but (grass is always greener, eh?). These are just some of the struggles I hold under the surface, and one day I know I will learn how to embrace and conquer them in some way.
Not to be forgotten, there are new positive changes as well. My confidence, self-assuredness, my motivation in school, my determination to learn a language fluently, my increased interest in domestic and international news, and more.
Every day I try to remember and apply the same grace I gave myself in Rwanda here as well, knowing that I still need it. I need to remind myself that change doesn't happen overnight. That life moves on, but that doesn't mean we have to forget. Who we are is just a combination of past and present experiences, and I'm just finding that balance.