When I think about the World Race, I think of it in two parts: the first half, and the second half.
For me, the first half of the World Race took place from August through December. The first half of the race took place in Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Israel and Turkey. The weather was mostly cold with a lot of rain and sometimes snow. The warmest thing I had with me was a fleece, and I would always wear my raincoat over it for more protection from the cold. Eventually I bought a pair of gloves and a hat – they were scratchy and made me itch, but I preferred that discomfort more than turning into a snowwoman.
When I think back to this time on the race I shiver – the external circumstances were cold, yes, but so was my heart. I was living through the contradicting combination of pride and worthlessness. I always felt like I was failing, and I didn’t like who I was. Yet I was unable to get over myself and let go of the things that crippled me. I made a list of these things two days before Christmas:
- I don’t spend enough time alone.
- Or with God.
- I focus too much of my attention on certain people.
- I’m selfish with my possessions.
- It’s been too long since I’ve fallen on my knees.
- I seek attention from other people in order to feel good about myself.
- When I know someone is hurting, I often ignore their problems.
- I blame other people.
- I hold grudges.
- I take myself entirely too seriously.
- I talk too much.
- I don’t listen enough.
- I get anxious because I try to control my life.
- I don’t pray enough.
- I know better.
- I want the glory.
- I’m sorry.
This is what I think of when I think about the first half of the race – my stubborn and self-loathing state of being. I think of cold and rain and misery.
The second half of the World Race took place from January to June. It was Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand. When I think about this half of the race I think of the overwhelming heat and my broken heart. I ditched my fleece and welcomed God into all areas of my life.
This is when I spent my days drenched in sweat and crying more tears than I thought possible. It was as if I was going through a detox – all that sweating and crying was representative of the pride and worthlessness seeping out of me.
It was hard. I couldn’t wait for it to end. And yet, when I look back on the World Race in its entirety, this is the time I miss. This is the time I was most alive.
When I think about the second half of the World Race, I think about the permanent dirt stain on my ankles. I think of crying by the squattie potties on Valentine’s Day. I think of my hair being pulled back with sweat and bobby pins. I think of myself collapsed on my knees, crying out to God and feeling too weak to stand.
I think of riding in the back of that big bumpy truck in Africa, and laughing. Really laughing. I think of running into the Indian Ocean with my clothes on, and feeling like I was being baptized in that moment.
I think of God, and how he called me to make sacrifices that broke my body and spirit.
I think of how once I was broken, God was able to resurrect me.
When I think about the first part of the World Race, I can only think of myself and my misery. When I think about the second part of the World Race, however, my thoughts go straight to God and how hot and hard it all was, but also how the combination of these things made me more alive than I’ve ever been.