The Crooked Path

Everyone knows crooked paths conjure up images of dishonesty, or evil. No one wants to be on the crooked path. No--we want to be on the straight and narrow.

Grudgingly we accept that sometimes the straight and narrow might split and we're stuck momentarily at a cross-roads. We don't like that either, of course. Making decisions one way means turning away from the other way, and we just love having our cake and eating it too. And why not? Why would you have a cake  you weren't planning on eating? I've never understood that one. And I've never enjoyed cross-roads.

I thought I was at a cross-roads. Back in the US on Stateside for 12 months. Back in the US to get help for our son. And after that...a cross-roads. On one side, a return to Kenya. On the other, staying in America.

On one side--indescribable traffic, cultural stress, best friends, impossible school lunches, a deep sense of meaning, water shortages, eternal sunshine, adventure and instability and travel.

On the other side--stability, freeways and stoplights, superficiality, clothes dryers, snack-packs, bone-chilling cold, efficiency, influenza, hot water, isolation, and life-on-cruise-control.

So I thought...ok. I'm at a crossroad, and I'd best just accept it. Embrace it. Go with it. So one day, I made a list of all the things I need to buy for Kenya. The next, I saw a job opportunity in Missouri, and I found the perfect house there, and I furnished it all from Craig's List. Then, I found a job in Ohio, and I found several homes to buy there--because the market is apparently hot and people kept buying my houses out from under me! And Craig's List set me up well there too. And just ask me about the cutest puppy I found to add to our family!!! Oh--and then wouldn't it be awesome to think outside the box? What's to stop us from buying this place in Costa Rica, where I could work as an NP consultant on-line and Chad could be a tour guide? What would we do for school? No problem--I found the perfect place with enough room to have my brother and his family come too, and they are both teachers! That same day, I bought new curtains for our house in Nairobi, and I stocked up on all the new sandals I would need in Africa. And oh the hours of paperwork it took getting the kids set up for starting school back at Rosslyn again. But then there was this perfect job in Oregon, and we already have a house there, so that's obviously perfect--let's do that. And there's this great town here in North Carolina where the houses are cheap and one even comes with a pool, and I've always wanted a pool, and the winters aren't too bad...

Dizzy yet?

This isn't a cross-road. It's a loop-the-loop death trap and I want off the ride!!!

During the past 8 years in Africa, I've embraced my identity of Mzungu. Dictionaries will tell you that word in most Bantu languages means "white person". Fair enough. But for anyone willing to look a little deeper --isn't it curious that it forms the root of the words for wandering? And spinning in circles? And being dizzy? One friend told me it was related to the early explorers looking at their compasses to find 'North' all the time. Another implied something about white people always running in circles (a la chicken-without-a-head) compared to the no hurry in Africa mentality.

Either way, I am a mzungu. I am zunguka. I am zunguzungu. Wandering. Turning in circles. Dizzy.

Like many crossroads, we're looking at good things all around--not one good and one bad. Options that all come with tremendous blessings and spirit-crushing challenges. Places that are easy in some ways and hard in others. Places that are all within God's sovereignty, under God's management. Places I believe with all my heart that God could and would use us in meaningful ways. Places where we will take our dysfunctions and our brokenness along with us, because that's what happens on earth.

This passage out of Jeremiah has been meaningful to me lately, as you can imagine. The ancient ways must mean godliness, following the spirit of the law, walking with God.
So I've looked deeply. And I've asked faithfully. And God has given me a certain rest for my soul--what some might call a 'peace that surpasses all understanding,' in fact. But even it feels temporary, like manna, enough to get me through the day but no more. And right or wrong--I want more.

The Crooked River, Central Oregon
Then I stumbled upon this gem in Ecclesiastes 7--

                              13Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten
    what he has made crooked?
14 When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
    anything about their future.
Cue the mic drop. Sometimes, God goes before us and straightens the path. Sometimes God makes it crooked, and no one can discover anything about their future. It appears the road God has prepared for us has taken us into Ecclesiastes for now.
So I'm enough of trying to straighten the path--I'm tired. Yes, I know that we're supposed to be wheels up in 71 days. I know that we don't know if we'll be on that plane. I know that I want to return to Kenya and I want to stay in America and I want life to be easy from now into eternity, and I know I'm not going to get everything I want. I'll just keep eating the manna day after day, trusting that eventually we will know something more--in 71 days at least, though I pray God has mercy and gives us a hint a little sooner than that!
I can't promise I'll stop 'window-shopping' on Craig's List, and if anyone is thinking of moving to Costa Rica, I've got the perfect place...but it's time to stop turning in circles. I can be a Mzungu on this path God has given us, without being kizunguzungu.


  1. Thanks for sharing about your inward journey, Miriam. The struggle is real and can be heart-wrenching. The "not knowing" and waiting parts are so counter-intuitive. We want a plan that we can see and take action on. Your post surely connects with many others. Praying praying praying. Dee Ann


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