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Travel bags and curling irons

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About two weeks ago, I went on a business trip. I travelled through two cities with a small travel bag, my handbag (which ended up being a handbag, a vanity case and a make-up bag all at the same time) and my laptop bag. I was only gone for four days so I packed light. By light I mean I packed enough for the trip but not too much in case the weather got bad and I needed to buy some warmer clothes (and this happened). That was two weeks ago. Two weeks. But I still haven’t unpacked.

Here’s why; I’m not an unpacker, if that’s even a real word. I hate unpacking as much as I hate packing. I’d rather shuffle around my travel bag every other morning looking for a blouse or shoes than take time to take everything out, fold it and place it back where it should be. I mean I might need to go again. In fact, I know I’m going to need to go again and the thought of having to re-pack… I’m not an unpacker.

It’s not easy being in a relationship with someone who always seems ready to leave.

When I was 12, I made what was said to be the best decision of my life. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Thing is, I knew nothing about what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know I was getting married when I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I didn’t know I had to speak to Him everyday if I wanted things to work out between the two of us. I didn’t know. The only thing I knew was that this guy was supposed to make everything better. He was supposed to take the pain away. He was supposed to help my parents stop fighting and make my skin a couple of shades lighter so I could get a valentines date. He was supposed to fix stuff; my very own Olivia Pope.

So I set back and waited. And while I was waiting, things got worse. And when things got worse, I got disappointed, packed a light travel bag and made sure everything was just right for when I would decide to leave this union.

But I stayed.

Sometimes, I’d sit alone and read His Word and find myself completely enchanted by this love that I really don’t deserve. And sometimes, when things got tough, I’d wobble from my seat to the alter and cry my lungs out.

And other times I’d leave, mentally.

I’d imagine all the parties I’d go to and all the new friends I’d make. I’d imagine myself laughing and not really caring about anything or anyone. I’d imagine being in a relationship with that guy who believes in God because he went to a Catholic school but has questions about God’s ways because he went to a Catholic school. You know, that guy I had a crush on but ended up dating my friend. I’d make plans, but every time I had to execute those plans, I couldn’t; not because I didn’t have the courage to but because I knew that if I couldn’t be happy with God, I wouldn’t be happy anywhere.

Staying is not easy. You need to unpack to stay. You need to take out your curling irons and hairdryers and untangle them. You need to make space in your closet to fit everything back in. You need to sort things out either by colour or by category. You need to assess what needs to be washed and what doesn’t. You need to empty out the travel bag to see whether anything spilled in it.

You need to unpack to stay and that’s what I’m learning to do. I’m learning the beauty of going into my secret place with God and saying “Hey man, my heart hurts. It hurts and I know it hurts because I didn’t listen to You when You said ‘No’ and I know that Heaven is Your throne and the Earth is Your footstool so what I’m crying about may be insignificant but I need You to let it matter because my heart hurts.” I’m learning the relief of shouting “I needed You to come through for me and You didn’t. I don’t know why, but I know that You love me so I will trust You.” I’m learning the art of unpacking.

God is not a monster. He doesn’t sit around and plot silent treatments and persistent temptations. He’s not a monster. He is Love personified. He is gracious and righteous. He is full of compassion. Sometimes His ways aren’t easy to understand but then His love comes shining though and what doesn’t make sense starts to not matter much.

I’m glad that I stayed, but I’m overjoyed that He stayed with me. Through thick and thin, He’s always been there. In times of icky sobs and ineloquent prayers, He remained my person.

I don’t think I can ever make sense of having things falling apart on all sides and being fine, good even. Because that’s what happens. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at you right hand; but it shall not come near you. It won’t come near you. It is not in Gods nature to hurt us or let us down. He promised to never leave nor forsake us. We were in the dark, incapable of pleasing Him and He promised to never leave. All He wants is for us to stay and experience His love so that we may be made whole and point others in His direction.

It’s been 12 years and I’m still unpacking.

Stay. Unpack.

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