I recently read Lisa’s post on going back to where she lost her keys and it struck home for me as I return to go to India next week. It is a country I love, with bright, colorful sounds and people, intense poverty and smells, and the face of reality that can wear no mask.

Three and a half years ago I walked away from India and many things that tethered my heart there. I’ve returned once since then (last Oct) for a different line of work (education) and different reasons. It was an interesting trip, coupled with an excitement for returning, but haunted by the faces of friends I kept looking for. Being with a group was helpful and we visited cities I had not visited before: Hyderabad, Dehradun, and Moosoorie, to name a few. During the time I was there I felt this panic about a loss of community, friends, and family, fearing unreastically, I had lost all of that in mere days. When I returned I recounted that fear to a close friend who replied “you got back and realized you hadn’t lost at all, but had only gained, right?” She was right.

What I have marveled about in the past week is how nothing in our lives is wasted. A message I didn’t know I needed to hear before I returned to find my keys next week.

A week ago I was in Latin America (Colombia/Ecuador) for work and it was an eye opening week for me, personally. There were two things I realized:

  1. There is a LOT of Latin America in me…more than I thought there was. It is a part of my life most have not been a part of, many not even aware of, but was a significant, pivitol part of who I am. I was in countries and with people where I was not the loudest (I know, shocking!) and whose familiarity to me was like the best comfy sweatshirt you own, on a crisp day. That soft spot in your heart? The place where you feel warm and safe and things make sense and are familiar? I was there for a week and it was glorious. I remember a post Laura did some time ago on returning to the US from Asia and how it was like she could suddenly breathe, when she arrived back to the US. She didn’t know she had been holding her breath all those months, until she realized she was breathing again. I felt the same. I landed, understood almost every word, knew what to expect, knew what I was eating, got most of the jokes (maybe made some attempts at my own), but relished in it all week long. I breathed. Long and deep.
  2. If you had told me two years ago that all my growing up years in Latin America were FOR something and were not to be wasted in my adult life or adult context, I would have politely smiled and said yes, ” I know nothing is wasted,” but then turned and said I had to go to the bathroom. or something. I would have looked at you kindly all while contemplating on the inside how that part of my life was dead and gone and not be a part of my current life, certainly not to have any bearing now. In months later after that conversation, I would have learned I was wrong. What He builds on in our lives does not go away or cease to be. It may be dormant for a time, may not get much use, or be rusty, but it does not dissipate. I am learning that is not how it works.

So if you find yourself in a season of something new that doesn’t match with where you’ve been or where you thought you’d be going…buckle up. He’s adding chapter’s to your book so you can look back later and use them for future things.

I don’t know what my 15 years in fair trade product sourcing and marketing will result in twenty years from now. But there is a sense of calm and peace that those years were not wasted and certainly will not be untouched again. I’m headed back to get my keys to keep driving forward. Join me for the ride.