Africa, Faith, Travel Stories

Miracles and more

Fireworks burst in the air over my head as a live band plays reggae on the makeshift stage behind me. My face burns with the glow of a bonfire, and I dig my bare feet into the cool sand, swaying to the beat and laughing as the crowd starts shouting, hugging, and congratulating each other with fervor.


It’s New Year’s Eve. I should be in an airport, sitting by myself, waiting for a plane to take me back to Paris; back to winter, back to something more sure than the evanescent African sun. That was the plan.

“Stay. We all think you should stay. You’re the happiest and most content we’ve seen you, why are you rushing to leave?” I try going over the details again, explaining to each family member about my dwindling bank account, the emails I’ve been getting back home from nursing recruiters offering top salary pay, the insecurity I feel about the next step. 

Their confidence and solidarity unnerve me even further. ‘Stay where you are, wait for the pieces to come together, trust that it will all work out.’ Why are they all in agreement? What do they see that I’m missing? It’s a sort of miracle I’m in Ghana in the first place, apparently no one else is surprised I want to stay. “They love you. I love you. Of course we’re going to agree. Not weird at all,” a friend reassures me.

Stay. Wait. Trust. Sentiments I haven’t exactly mastered. 
TheBarefootBeatMy friend Lena, anxiously waiting for the first sunrise of the New Year. 
Accra, Ghana 2014

I’m impatient and strong willed. Determined and arrogant. Did I mention I’m also a bit of a control freak? I despise ambiguity and plans that have more holes in them than Swiss cheese. I look at uncertainty with panic instead of possibility. So many of my decisions are based on calculated and predictable outcomes, allowing fear to convince me of worst case scenarios. It may be shocking, but this world traveler/adventurer does not like surprises. 

To be honest, my journey around the world has taken me to the edge of my comfort zone and the end of my rope. The time and money I had allotted for myself to spend are both running out. I’m not sure what comes next. I’d like to pretend I’m approaching this New Year with an easy-going, carefree attitude of wonder. I wish I could look back on all of the times God has come through at the last minute with confidence, knowing the same will happen again. I’m just not sure how it’s going to happen. The numbers and what ifs refuse to add up. 

“The greatest miracles arise from the greatest need,” my younger sister, wise beyond her years, reminds me. She’s right. I’m impatient, restless, and distrustful. I feel lost when I’m asked to be still. To wait. To trust. To stay in one place. 

Frankly, I’d much rather crawl back to the safety of plans A, B, and C, collecting answers and neatly eliminating pesky questions. I’d rather  make my own waves instead of waiting patiently for the rain. Of course, it only makes sense that I’m going to find myself in a position where I’m forced to do the opposite. The Universe has a way of teaching us lessons we’re not brave enough to learn on our own.  

So, instead of relying on my own ideas and expectations for the New Year, I’m releasing control and asking for grace. Enough grace to navigate the Unknown, to trust in Providence, to forgive myself and others when we fail epically at life. Enough grace to wait expectantly, hopefully, for the miracles I know must come. Clinging to, and relying on this grace as if my life depended on it, because it does.


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