I’m still processing everything that happened in my heart and mind after spending 8 days in the place I used to call home. I explain it as a time-space continuum – where almost everything is the same in one place, and yet everything has changed in the other.
My prayer in entering back into that world was that I would be able to be fully present, fully available and fully quiet. I wanted to hear from Jesus. I needed truth and love and acceptance spoken over me. When we left Morocco, we left fully certain that this was the path we were supposed to take, but we didn’t leave whole. We left wounded, broken, and limping. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to enter back into that world – the one where I felt like I left in wheelchair with broken pieces of me scattered behind. The one where we were maybe looked at as failures who couldn’t hack it. The one where we couldn’t get on board with agendas and priorities. This was the world I was entering back into and I was equal parts bursting with excitement and sick to my stomach. I spent the whole morning crying before stepping onto that plane. I said to my husband through sobs, “I can’t wait to go” and I’m sure I seemed crazy but it was honest.
I cried again when we landed in Morocco and again when I got my passport stamped and again when I hugged my fun-girl sister at the airport. I cried when I saw my best Moroccan friend and when I bought honey from my peanut butter guy, when I saw my rug guy and when I walked into my kids old school to see their teachers. I think I cried a little bit everyday – mostly out of thankfulness that this place and these people were a part of my curriculum.
People. That’s what made that place come alive. It was all the faces, all the voices, all the smiles, all the sounds.
And I realized that everything about the place and the people was all true and real and honest for me. I lived my life there in full integrity and gave myself fully to that place. I wasn’t sure if that was true during my 5 years there. I wasn’t sure that I could shed the agenda I was paid to have, or the sandbox I was supposed to play in. I was afraid that the relationships I had made weren’t authentic or deep and that I was maybe trying to fit back into clothes that didn’t fit me anymore.
And what I quickly realized was that by the grace of God, I never wore those clothes to begin with. The clothes I’ve tried so hard to shed and pretend I didn’t wear, I never really put on in the first place.
I love my friends because they are my friends; because they are unique and funny and lively, and they are people with stories and hurts and dreams. Actually, I loved them without a “because”. I just love them. They were and are a part of my curriculum, a part of teaching me how to love without an agenda. A part of teaching me how to love someone so different from me. A part of learning how good and full it is to get out of your comfort zone and follow Jesus. And how beautiful it is to see God in the faces of those who believe differently.
This came to me while I was at a party and my good friend, Asmae, grabbed my hands at one point and said, “Jackie, please become a Muslim, please.” I smiled back at her and said, “Asmae, I love Jesus and I follow Him, so I’m not going to become a Muslim”. She looked back at me with a beautiful smile on her face and pulling me in close, she said, “I love you, with no agenda. You are my sister and I will always love you.” I looked her with full sincerity and said, “I love you too, with everything in me.”