sea turtles

..& it’s better to feel pain than nothing at all, the opposite of Love’s indifference…”
The Lumineers


I’ve been a bit of a mess lately, if you hadn’t noticed. Well actually I’m always a bit of a mess… the truth is that lately I’ve felt that this portrait of me drawn by our 9-year-old quite accurately depicts what’s been going on inside of me.


The fact that I can make fun of myself at this point is a very very good sign, though. = )


I think maybe these broken pieces of me are beginning to come back together


I think.


I’m still crying. I’m still feeling hurt & angry & betrayed by God.


But I can feel myself opening myself up a tiny bit to accept that maybe, maybe… God is still good to me. Maybe, maybe… God is still in love with me, maybe, maybe, I can still trust Him with my life.


Last week I was looking at one way plane tickets out of Bogota… yeeaaah. The thing is I’ve been wanting to leave this country since the first day I landed here, and maybe you would think that as I’ve melted in here and made friends like sisters and learned to love these children who initially resented me, it would have gotten easier to stay. But, actually… it has not gotten easier. Every day it is harder to be so far away from my girls in Mexico, and every day it is harder to mother these kids who often still act like they resent me. And then, when I found out about my two girls… well all of it together just became completely & absolutely unbearable for me.


One day I was standing on our mountain, and I looked up at the beautiful blue sky and I screamed to God through my tears, “DO YOU EVEN SEE ME?!?!?!!!”


Because what I feel here is forsaken. What I feel here is that God has put me in a time-out from my life that I loved, that’s He’s banished me here and forgotten me.


I know that isn’t true. But I also know that it’s what feels true.


Yesterday I wrote to one of my dear, dear friends, who lives a life similar to mine as far as missionary-ing and orphanage-working go. And I decided to be honest and tell her that this past year I’ve felt like I’ve been wandering around in a desert, screaming to God in my dry, parched, voice, “WHERE THE HELL IS MY OASIS?!?!!” Which, by the way, is a line straight out of my prayer journal from October 14th. Here’s another line, but from March of LAST YEAR, “Oh God. I’m struggling over here. Like flailing in the water… a danger of drowning the lifeguard kind of struggling. God.. why have you forsaken me?” So I’ve been flailing for over a year, people. Anyway, I wrote to my friend to tell her how dry & barren I’ve felt, and you know what she said?! She said she’s spent the past year feeling the same way. WHAAAA?!?!! You mean I’m not the only one? I’m not the only missionary who doesn’t want to be where God has called me, I’m not the only missionary counting down the hours to bedtime from the moment I wake up?!


I’m sharing because maybe there are more of you. Maybe there are more of you who are finding life hard, hard, hard, and feeling God distant, distant, distant, even though you KNOW She’s right beside you. He’s got your hand, oh we know… but that’s not how it feels.


I’ve spent the past month feeling like Dory and Marlin in Finding Nemo, when they race through the jellyfish but get stung, and stung, and stung, until they’re laying there almost dead.


yeah, that’s me. Just a blur in the middle of all that pain.


So I was looking at plane tickets even though I know God hasn’t said, “Go.” and I was saying to Him, “I just need some Sea Turtles… I just need some Sea Turtles to carry me through this as I heal from this freaking jellyfish poison that is my life , to carry me to safer waters.” I said to God that I need my Mom, who always listens and picks up what I lay down, even when she doesn’t agree, because that’s what Moms do, they understand. I need to drink Root Beer Floats with my Dad while we watch Modern Family, I need to hold Paige’s brand new Baby Girl and sit there beside my forever friend who is stronger and more beautiful than almost anyone understands and who would never judge me for leaving this mission field. I said God I need to make dinner for Gramma & Grampa and sit on the couches of all my Auntie’s as they comfort me just by being the beautiful beautiful women that they are. I need to curl up in bed next to my sister and make cookies with my Grandma and call Claire all the time and kneel at daily Mass and have lunch at the Wild Hare and immerse myself in those Minnesota lakes that have helped me heal from heartbreak before. I said God I just really need my people right now, because I feel so dead and I don’t know how else I’ll be able to come back to life. I need my Sea Turtles to remind me of what joy feels like.


But then I looked at my bank account and knew that a plane ticket wasn’t going to be possible, and I felt angry at Him again and checked the clock to see how many hours were left until bedtime, and I didn’t think I was going to make it without some sort of meltdown, but then an almost stranger stopped by to give me coffee that tasted like kindness, and although he was not at all my Daddy he was absolutely a Sea Turtle.


& Meesha is still listening to me and letting me cry, as she has been since that moment she found me on the floor. And she is my Sea Turtle, helping to carry me through this.


& a Southern woman friend I met in Mexico wrote to me just to let me know that she’s been thinking about me & Ingie listened to me rant and swear and I let her see my ugly bitterness and then she told me that she thinks I’m great (what?!) & Claire is a constant Sister to me no matter what & Bibi’s been giving me extra time away lately because she knows something is terribly wrong even though I won’t talk about it & Obed asked me how I was and he let me be honest and he said he understood & Tayla wrote to remind me of all those times all those years ago when I was a Sea Turtle for her, and now look at her, bringing me love & comfort as a Sea Turtle herself, & Jessica keeps asking what’s wrong because she knows when I’m lying & my Momma’s heart aches for what mine is feeling & when I couldn’t stop crying in the kitchen Edwin told me that food tastes better when it’s made with sorrow anyway & when I told Paige she said she didn’t even know what to say because what I told her was heartbreaking, but actually her sacred silence was exactly what was needed… & when I was crumpled up on the dining room floor crying in our empty house our DOG, Negra hurried right over to sit and whimper with me & Becka prayed over my broken weeping body & Melissa asked if I’m okay and she asked because she really wanted the truth & Alisha said she understands (because she’s been there) and that there are really no words to heal (and there aren’t) & a girl I haven’t seen in years wrote to me beauty & comfort & truth & called me sister and all of this, all of you, are helping to carry me through, like Crush carrying Dory & Marlin through the Tasman Sea.


Sea Turtles, all of them, all of you. Willing to bear this burden, my burden, with me. Willing to enter into my heartbreak and say, “I’m here with you, even now, even in this.. I still love you.”


Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens…” Galations 6:2


When I shattered glass bottles all over my bedroom floor I knelt down to pick up the pieces and I said to myself, “I know there is beauty in this brokenness.” I wasn’t certain of what that beauty was… but I know I’m beginning to see some of it. I don’t think there is anything that leaves you more raw and naked and vulnerable in this life than grief… so how beautiful it is to have people willing to enter into this barren place with me, and just by offering their presence & love… to be helping to carry me through.

sea turtle2

2 thoughts on “sea turtles

  1. Brittany Ann, Oh, honey, I’m sitting here crying because my heart just aches for you, that you’re going through this. I’m glad for all your “sea turtles” who are helping you through this! You have many, many people who love you and care about you! Even though you feel forsaken, I know you’re not. Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” “He (God) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 I wish I could give you a great, big hug right now!!! You’re going to pull through this and be the stronger for it. I’m guessing that Anah and Yessenia have gone through some difficult adjustments of their own. I’m sure they need a lot of prayer, too. I love you MUCHISIMO, mi hija!!! Mom

    Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 01:19:08 +0000 To:

  2. Hey Brittany mi hermana I love you a lot and wish I could be there to give you a hug. You have such a big heart that so many people are touched by. It’s hard to be vulnerable with others and let yourself feel. I’ve been having struggles with wondering why I’m here and trying to shake complacency to really do something with the precious time I have here. It is a privilege to be where I’m at and I want to be all in. I really admire that you are so devoted to something you don’t even really feel like doing. It’s always good to cuddle up with a dog when you’re sad I think. I’m learning that it’s okay to have emotions and trying to relate to others and love them. I guess the closest thing I’ve had to kids has been my Timber Bay girls, kids on mission trips (that I barely knew), and the Compassion child I support Leonela. So… I can’t even say I feel your pain because I don’t, but I admire that you push through and bring God glory in the end. You are a trailblazer Brittany! You always have been. I actually have a stuffed animal sea turtle that I named Bob Dillon (I don’t know why he just looks like a Bob Dillon) and I’ll think of what you said about the sea turtles now every time I see him. I can really see that you have the mothering calling. You’ve had that your whole life where you’d lead our little cousin crowd and taught me so much and were there for me growing up. I wouldn’t be the same at all without you. I’m praying for you. We think of you constantly. I think we have to learn to all be involved in loving people through our different callings, and you set such an example of that love. Thank you for accepting me always and not trying to make me into a minion but pushing me to be myself and be different from you. Pray that I will see the beauty around me and be grateful, growing in surrender to God. Love you sis! –Jazzy Lizzy

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