liberia, i have been missing you oh-so-fiercely as of late, missing you so deeply and true that i feel it in my bones, in the way they ache for you. i miss the heaviness of your air, the way it sits on my shoulders and seeps in through my pores. i miss the glare of your noonday sun and the blue of your sky; i miss the lush green of your tall grass, the red of your dusty earth. i miss the sound of waves crashing on sandy shores, of dance music crackling over old, busted-out speakers, of the loud, frequent greetings heard from the road. i miss the feel of your children nestled in my lap as i stroke their heads and run my fingers through their hair. i miss the way you taught me to seek the gift in every moment and showed me how to find Jesus in even the hard places of life, in all the things that don’t make sense, like poverty and war and death.
see, now that i’ve been away from you for some time, i’m able to look back and remember all the good you gave me. five months ago, all i knew about you was that you hurt me; you stretched me, hard, and drained away my strength, my joy. when i left you, i was bitter and confused, heart tender and torn, very much as broken as i was when i came to you all those years ago, just in a different way.
but i’m healing now, and i see that i’ve blamed you for so much that wasn’t your fault. and i’d like to apologize to you and make peace with all the grief and trauma you gave me. it hurt like hell, but i’ve learned and grown from it. and when i think about you these days, i want to dwell on the good, the beautiful, the blessings.
though there are many gifts in the place i find myself now, nothing can compare to you, my sweet liberia. and i don’t think anything is supposed to be able to. i think i was always meant to have a piece of this stretched-wide, bleeding heart that was reserved just for you. no matter what i’m doing or where i find myself in this world, i carry you with me always. and i know also that i’ve left behind so many pieces of myself, in both my tears that have soaked your earth and in all the love i have poured into your people.
i know also that our story isn’t over. because when i walked away from you, from your children that i welcomed into my arms and my heart as my own, i vowed to never forget. i promised i would speak up for those without a voice and fight for those who cannot do it on their own. though i am fearful because i don’t ever want to be emptied like that again, i know it’s my call to be love, to spend myself on behalf of those who are needy.
this morning, as i pray for you, for i, for our future, i carry this verse in my inner-most parts, in the deep well of my soul:
the…heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. (proverbs 21.1)
liberia, He has turned my heart ever-towards you. and one day, i know–He’ll turn my feet back also.