I want to tell you a few things before we meet, if we do. I want to say that even though I have a deep longing to meet you one day, I’m also content to speed on the path God has me on. What that path is, who knows. I do know God is in control of this ordered chaos we call life. I’m glad for that. Let me tell you a little about me. I’m a mess. I’m far from the perfect man you imagine me to be.
I grew up in Africa, in the poorest country in the world called Niger. I played in the sand, got dirty, and lived a boy’s dream. I went to a good school, and made many lifelong friends there. As with many TCKs (third culture kid), we come back to our home country. For my preference, it was too soon. I had so many friends and things to do. But I adjusted to Jr. High and High school in the US. I spent many nights missing my friends and frustrated that this wasn’t really “home” to me. Mine was in the desert.
My life went on, I went to college. I lived at a wonderful placed called Paradise Mountain. It’s housing for TCKs like me, funded completely by donations. The problem was, I didn’t feel like I completely fit in there, and neither did I feel like I did with others on campus (to no one’s fault). I have lived a life placed between worlds and never belonging completely to one or the other. College was a wonderful experience that I would never change, and my best memories were made with dear friends. But there I sat, in another world where I didn’t quite fit in.
I’m an American who grew up in Africa, then lived in America, grew to love Jesus, moved to Canada (I’m a halfie), and work construction as a surveyor with many who don’t know Jesus. I belong because of my profession, but I live very differently than most here. Yet I interact and build friendships every day. As I keep going, I hope you can see that I am a man between worlds. In all of this, it reminds me constantly that I have a heavenly home and I don’t quite belong here on earth. To understand me, to understand why I live so free, understand this. It is why I go to great lengths to see a friend and spend time with them. Who knows when I’ll see them again? Why not make the effort to invest what I can while I have the chance? It is so much fun.
Growing up in the desert, and growing up in the woods of Tennessee have forged me into who I am. I regret none of it and frankly I am blessed to have such a life as this.
I grew up knowing about Jesus, but He wasn’t at the forefront of my life. At the end of my Jr. year of high school that changed. Some friends brought me to a good youth group, and God met me there. I got into a wonderful Bible study and was mentored by a great man of God. He’s since passed, but He gave me so much spiritual wisdom. College was wonderful for my spiritual formation as well. A lot of those lessons I learned the hard way, and God was good in those times of learning.
Since college I’ve worked at a fast food place in Tennessee, and at Target in Georgia. Both were good experiences and I put my all into them. While I was in GA I dated and got engaged to a girl there. It didn’t work out, and those details I can tell you in person one day when we meet. Open letters aren’t good for those sorts of things, you know.
Now I find myself living in Alberta working in the oil patch as a surveyor. I like the work, but it’s a lonely walk. See, I work for two to three weeks up north. Not only have I left my friends and family in the US, but also my friends and family that have become dear to me here as well. Back to my life of always leaving and being stuck in between.
God has been so good in all of this. I knew moving would bring a desert season, and I just imagined it as a time of dryness. A time of thirst, a time of baking in the sun, a time of desperately searching for an oasis. As I’ve become accustomed to the sand blowing in my eyes and the feel of the dunes under my toes I’m realizing something. God has brought me back home, to my desert. The place where I played in the sand so much it now runs in my blood (that’s what I tell my African friends — the sand is in my blood). I can’t help but return here. God has been working, with sand blowing and whittling away the ruins of past memories. He’s allowed me to take lessons from those crumbling stones, and put those into action surviving where I am now.
As I said before, He’s given me a blessed life. My goal is to make the most of it, even if I have no idea where I’ll end up or how I’ll be serving Him in the coming years.
So I have some prayers for you, whoever you may be. These prayers will continue and multiply as we grow together.
I pray that you can become content (not apathetic) with who God has made you to be. Your beauty, your gifts and talents, and your place in life. I know it’s tough, believe me. I’m in this process too (no beauty for me though!). I want you to be able to make the most of the seasons you’re in.
I pray that you can see God is in control and sovereign, because whether we live in a mansion or a hut in Africa we must strive to glorify Him.
I pray that you don’t obsess over me in your prayers, because there is so much more to this world than me babe. God has me taken care of, so focus your energy on serving Him.
I pray that you won’t expect yourself to be perfect. We’re humans who are all in process. God gets the glory as we are sanctified by Him. We’ll do that together, hand in hand.
I pray you are a woman between worlds. Maybe it’ll be the jungle. Maybe it’ll be the ocean. Maybe it’ll be a small town. Whatever is your desert, let it remind you you’re not quite home yet.
I pray that your character will grow, and that your beauty will shine from it. As you grow closer to Jesus, so will the fruit you bear from Him increase.
I pray that you can have the grace to deal with me, a messy human being.
I pray above all, even me, you love Jesus. This is the single most important thing to me. This tempers your life and mine. This is the life we are called to live.
Well, it’s getting late. I’m off to sleep, but I hope you’re having a splendid night wherever you are.
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
I love you.