Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pick Up and Go

 "For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice."  T.S. Eliot

I wasn't really looking for it, but as a young 20-something who wanted to do something bigger than herself, and a little out of the norm, I found it.  You wouldn't think that a first year kindergarten teacher would be the kind to pick up the crayons, pencils, paper, puzzles, and books and leave them behind.  But when you leave, there is always something left behind.  The past will sometimes whisper life-like dreams to you in your sleep.  It is left, but not forgotten.  The constraints of time and space reach their fingers to the mind in the night hours when the dark has come and the eyes are heavy.  It haunts  in beauty the dreams in another language, the nostalgia of the moment wringing my heart like it is an drenched hand towel.    I am not where I was, nor will I be.  For who I am now has taken the place of who I was. And yet, who I was is mystically a part of who I am now.

Those books, they line my shelves.  Stories of people and places.  Language books in script that most people can't read.  Nestled in between the stories, they speak my story.  Sometimes I forget that the girl who did that was me.  I don't tell my story because somehow the tangles and brambles that get caught in stories that aren't mine to tell.  When I was the one confided in, I knew that their stories, their secrets needed to be hid.  They could not be spoken in daylight.  Such it is when you live in a foreign country, such it is when it is not your story but your daily reality that stories effect lives.

A small piece of who I am learned to live in secrecy, in quiet journal entries.  There are stories from this era of my life, luggage that bears weight upon the shoulders turning them red.  The worst kind of luggage, the kind you can't get rid of after a long train ride, and days of stowing it and then taking it out again.  But they are not my stories, nor are they mine to tell. 
What I could tell you is of village life, vineyards, dirt roads, public toilets, food poisoning, and exotic food. I've been on five modes of transportation in less than 24 hours making it from a bike, to three wheeled taxi, to a taxicab, to a train, to an airplane.  I've worn the same clothes the whole week long and no one has commented to me on my lack of style.  My bike has gone uphill in negative temps with wind, while water from my eyes froze on my eyelashes.  But this isn't what I know now.  When it is your reality for years, the routine normalizes.  But it isn't these kind of stories that change you.

But the day to day is the stuff that makes people feel like they connect to you.  "How was the food?" they ask, and "Did you have a good time?"  Two years of your married life spent abroad is not a vacation.  There is so much more that one could never express, that one could never explain after eight years of living abroad.  These stories.  They must be lived, but I'm not really sure they could be told.  

I wish the girl who packed her bags knew then what I know now.   These stories, they change you, they wrinkle your soul.  Some stories you may wish to tell, but they are not yours to tell.  Keep them close, they remain a part of who you are and where you've been.  This my girl, is what happens when you pick up and go.  Your past and present stories merge to create your future.

Do you have a story you wish to tell?  How do you tell your difficult stories?  Do you struggle with finding your voice?


  1. Hi Lisa, I've only been overseas once, for a short-term missions trip, so I can't say that I have any stories like the ones you carry. But I do have a couple stories that I feel the same way about. They're my stories, because they've effected my life drastically, but they really belong to someone else. I'm not sure if the Lord will let me open up about these one day, but for now, I'm confident I'm supposed to be quiet. They belong to people I love, and I'd never want to hurt them unintentionally. I know you may or may not agree, but sometimes I think that the move towards being open, real, and vulnerable, can cross the lines of privacy...more specifically the privacy of others in our life. And I think it's okay to have some privacy; we just need a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit about when and what to share. Anyway, just thought I'd share my thoughts. Thanks for sharing yours! Blessings.

  2. Thanks, Jacqui. I agree with you on the privacy issue. My main thoughts would be if it is about me and I want to share, I can if I want, but where my story overlaps with other people's stories I've got to be gracious and careful. Sometimes the perspective I see something from can be different from someone else's...that is why I end up being silent even though the heart is story-filled. God fills the heart with stories, and the ink well with grace. ;)

    1. Yes, I agree! I've been working through this very thing for over a year now. It's so good to hear someone else say what I've been thinking. Thanks Lisa!

  3. Hi, friend...I was just bopping over to say hi and thinking of you and then I read this. :) Which is something I've needed to hear for awhile, I think.

    I have a 37,000 word rough draft of Indonesia stories and no direction to go with it...part of that is the fact that I'm a newbie at this whole let's-publish-a-book thing; the other is fear, I'm sure. I've thought so often about the stories I tell in the book...how they affected me, what I learned, how He changed me. It's interesting to think of it from the perspective of making sure I don't tell someone else's story while I tell my own. Definitely something for me to think about before moving forward...thank you for this!

    Hope you are doing well...happy weekend to YOU, friend! :)

  4. Thanks for your comment, Mel. Whatever stories you tell, I'm sure they will be seasoned with grace.


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