It caught me off guard, the date.
It’s December 18th. The day we came home from France.
One year ago today, we plodded off an airplane, fluffy cat in tow. We made our way down the long escalator to baggage claim. Friends greeted us with signs. I kept it all together, smiling, exhausted, until I saw the praying man. I barely knew him, but I knew him to be one who sincerely followed Jesus and dirtied his knees in prayer. When I looked into his eyes, I couldn’t keep the tears back. His Jesusy eyes saw my grief. He knew.
Today I’m a bit of a mess, remembering. How kind everyone was. How our little temporary home had been decorated for Christmas, complete with tree. How folks lent us cars, took us to dinner, prayed for us.
The scar that is France is raw today. So much heartache there. So many lessons. Trials heaped upon heap in such a pile I felt suffocated most of the time. If you had told me what we would’ve gone through, I would never have had the courage to go. I would’ve crawled back into bed, humming praise songs.
But we did go through the gauntlet. In every possible way. Though I feel terribly sad that we didn’t stay there the rest of our lives, and guilty too, I am thankful that my children are in love with Jesus. And I am too. Patrick also. I never thought I could endure such stuff, but Jesus gave me wings when I felt like digging holes.
Was it a victorious homecoming? Not really. More like a marathoner crawling past the finish line, fully spent. But I thank Jesus from the deepest part of my tired heart that He pulled me across. And He gave people to cheer us forward.
A year ago today, we came to Texas from France. We all left parts of ourselves back there, I’m sure. And the me who was me then is not the me today. I’m worldworn, more cynical. I’m still so tired. But I still love Jesus with a desperate passion I didn’t know before I left American soil. Why?
Because He held me.
He shaped me.
He walked me through the valley of the shadow.
He became my best friend.
He sustained me.
He wept with me.
He bore the weight of my grief, particularly concerning my children.
He upheld me.
He became home, my safe place.
Back in America one year, I still see Him as I did then: the great Rescuer. The Bearer of harsh words. The Healer.
Patrick and I came down that exact escalator two days ago. We waited at the same baggage claim. How much life changes in a year. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same having gone to France and come home early. I’m not stronger. If anything I’m terribly weak and needy and insecure as a result. But I see Jesus clearer now. Understand His strength because of my frailty.
And for that, it’s all been worth it.