enduring this night

“Nothing’s forever and we deserve better than untimely exits with half of our souls.” // Heath McNease, “Endure The Night”

I’m sure you’ve all experienced a situation that hurt so much, you felt like you would explode. I’ll preface this post by letting you know that this is it for me. I simultaneously feel like I’m exploding and like I’m being torn to shreds. I miss France so much, it physically hurts me. I haven’t known how to tell my story for 2 months now, but now I’ve found a few words. This is just a small piece of what my life has been since getting back. I’m hoping that it will help you understand where I am in life.

The realization hit me yesterday that I’ve been back in Iowa longer than I was in France. That was tough. Sometimes it feels like my time in France was all a dream. The memories are less vivid. I no longer look for the Eiffel Tower on the horizon when I’m driving somewhere. In theory, the pain of missing it should have passed by now…right? Or at least eased some? You’d think so.

Ah, but reality is different than theory. There are some days when I don’t cry, yes. But the hurt hasn’t lessened. Honestly, I feel like some days it’s even worse. I constantly feel like I’m missing something— missing out on something. The sense of purpose I had in France is a stark contrast to the gaping hole I now have to stare into every time I try to figure out where my life is headed.

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t dealt with this transition well. I have avoided God for 2 months. At first it was because I was just too focused on my own hurt, but it grew into a deliberate act spurred by frustration. “Where is your goodness, God? I do not see any goodness in this. Make it stop hurting.” Those were the words I would hurl at Him anytime there was any form of communication. How could a good God tear me from the only place I’ve ever felt purpose after only 2 far-too-short months?

“Seriously, God, how can there be any goodness in this? Your plan hurts and I hate it. Make. It. Stop. Hurting.” Continual frustration evolved into anger—with God and with myself for being angry at God. I was not equipped to deal with this anger I had inside me. I stood in church with my head down, hoping no one would see the tears that I could not for the life of me keep at bay. I sang the songs half-heartedly, feeling guilty for even singing them at all without meaning any of the words. I dreaded contact with most people because I knew they would ask me how I was and conjuring up a smile and “I’m good, how are you?” was utterly exhausting. So I avoided eye contact with people and I avoided almost any contact with God.

And Christmas came and it was good. I talked about Paris a lot, but I never felt like I was being grilled for answers. Not many family members asked me what’s next, which was the best Christmas gift I could have been given (aside from Captain America: Civil War on dvd—thanks, Mama and Daddy). I thought about France so much less in that week of Christmas festivities with family. Even when I did think about it, it usually wasn’t accompanied by tears or (as much) pain. There’s nothing like having 30 Johnsons in your garage celebrating Christmas to make life feel good again.

But then Christmas was over, with New Years at its heels. I had a pretty terrifying reality check about how 2017 is a year full of unknown, and some temporary motivation to be intentional about making plans and goals. I made goals for the month of January and I haven’t even accomplished the easiest goal on my list yet. (I still really need that haircut.) I got discouraged. Family left, life went back to boring, and I started thinking about home again. Oh, here comes the sadness. It’s like it never left.

This pretty much brings me to where I am now. Sad, lonely, and longing for France. Overwhelmed with fear that I’ll be replaced and forgotten. Wondering if I did any good in my 2 months there. Missing the people who I grew to love fiercely in such a short time. Feeling like I got short-changed by only having 2 months there. In general, a total mess. I have a new nightly routine of apologizing to God for ignoring Him for so long, telling Him I want to do better, then going to sleep and forgetting until the next night. I’m in a vicious cycle of dissatisfaction and depression and I can’t seem to stop spiraling out of control.

I know several people’s immediate response to this will be “Just go back!” and I appreciate the thought behind this statement, friends, but please save it. Were it up to my own emotions and desires, I would already be back there. But I am slowly trying to reconcile my relationship with God and seek Him before I make that decision. I do believe than I will go back someday. My time in France was so short and it feels like that chapter is unfinished. I don’t know when I’ll get back to it, but I do hope it’s soon.

It feels like I should have a positive conclusion to this. I don’t have one. I haven’t had one for over 2 months now. All I have is this: I’m not okay. Someday I will be, but not today. And that is okay.