Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Transit

We are in a motel room in Florida, waiting to leave for Haiti. We are surrounded by luggage - it's hard to walk around in the room because there's so much of it. I can't find anything I want to wear, or read, or use, without digging through piles of other belongings. I'm very tired of living out of suitcases and ready to be home.

And yet I'm afraid.

For months I have obsessively read everything published on the internet about Haiti. Now, I can't read any of it. On TV they showed the footage from the security cameras at the Palais National, taken during the earthquake. (That video was making the rounds on Facebook months ago, but somehow the US media is just now getting hold of it?) I have watched the video many times, but I couldn't watch it now; I left the room.

I'm sick, too. A friend wrote and asked, "Are you sick sick or stress sick?" Definitely sick sick, with whatever bug has been going through our family for the last week, but my physical condition does match my emotional one pretty accurately. I'm feeling fragile.

And I'm afraid.

I keep thinking about flying into the airport that I left six months ago, where rebar was hanging down from the ceiling and groups of us huddled, talking about what we had seen and heard. I think about driving through the streets of the city as we did that day, seeing destruction on an enormous scale, buildings pancaked on themselves. I think about all those people everywhere.

A woman at church the other day said to me, "I admire you so much. You are such a strong person to do what you do."

I feel uncomfortable being put on a pedestal, especially when I know so very well how inaccurate the sentiment is. Strong? Uh, no. So I replied immediately, "When all of this happened, I realized how weak I really am."

She kept smiling brightly and assuring me of how strong I am.

Believe me, I'm not. I'm weak and sick and terrified.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians: But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

It's still hard for me to boast in my weakness. I want to be strong and self-sufficient. I don't want to be the person who ran away from all of it six months ago, and is now cautiously creeping back. I want to be bold and courageous, perhaps riding a white horse. (OK, the horse might be taking things too far.)

Let's just hope His grace really is sufficient for me, and for all of us.

8 comments:

Corey said...

Ruth,
I don't know how to say what I want to say the right way. Because you don't really know me that well, and yet I've read some of your most private thoughts.. (of course, you've read some of mine, too..)

It's not that I'm proud of you.. that's not the right word. I empathize with you. I can feel the butterflies. The anxiety. I want to do this PTSD exercise that my friend taught me, with you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRXdQNA3aEk

And yet, I'm jealous too. I'm scared for you.. of what you will see and how you will feel.. and yet, I'm totally, insanely jealous, because I want to be there, and you are. And yet, I'm totally happy for you, because you SHOULD be there, it's your home, and you need to go there. And it's crazy to say I love you when I don't even know what you look like. But I love you. And I'm sending you ALL good thoughts and good vibes, and praying, praying, praying for you (for real, not just saying that) and wanting so much that when you land in PAP and walk out on the the tarmack, that the heat rises up and hits you, and it feels like HOME.

xoxo
Corey

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Corey.

Janet said...

As I recall, you didn't "run away." It was hard for you to leave.

I am feeling for you, and praying for you. Like Corey, it's hard to put much else into words, but know that you're in my thoughts today.

Kathie said...

Your fear, Ruth, will allow you to be empathetic with the many people who are still afraid to sleep inside. It will be especially important to your students. Be real with them. Courage isn't a lack of fear, it is taking appropriate action in spite of fear. Your students need to know this and you can give them permission to acknowledge their feelings, express their fears, and direct them to the One who can receive their fears and redirect their lives. Most important, your family is together. Your children have their mother and their father and they need you both. God bless you as you head back, in weakness - letting Him be your strength. Remember God uses everything, every experience, every emotion, every pain, every joy, absolutely every thing to bring change to the world. Nothing is wasted, not even fear. I am praying for you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Janet and Kathie.

Sarah SSM said...

Of course you are afraid. And of course you want to go. And of course it is all swimming around inside you at once. This is very difficult. And people trying to make you into a superhero doesn't help much, I think.

I wasn't there in January - though I desperately wanted to go as soon as I heard, and I, too, watched and read and watched and read, trying to find out how my friends were, how the country was. Read and watched till overload. I have to wait another year before I move back.

So I have nothing, in my view, to justify people trying to turn me into a saint because of a few forums I've done. Yet they do. So what they are saying to you doesn't surprise me...

Whatever happens, it will be difficult and it will be blessed. And I am so grateful that you can go and are somehow managing to walk right back into it all. Please do allow yourself to be in all the mixed-up feelings it brings, and know that God is, in fact, holding you somehow - as you said, there is no such thing as a God-forsaken town... or person.

Prayers...

Vicky said...

Ruth,
Kathie expresses my thoughts well.
As a friend & I discussed last night, life is not simple. It is complex & often not straight forward. You are doing that which you are called to do. God has been & will continue to be with you on that journey. Continue to walk humbly with our God. Know you are in my prayers. In Christ's Love, Vicky

Rich said...

If I might be a little cliché, courage isn't the absence of fear. We admire your courage, and are so very proud of you, and of what you and Steve do in Haiti. We love you, and pray for you often. We're so glad we got to spend some time with you this year, but as Corey says, we rejoice that you are getting to go home.