Finding (Be)longing

I wrote this post in Uganda. We’re home now, but I think I’ll always be finding my way in this tension. What does it look like for you? Let me know in the comments.


We’re riding on a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) together, the three of us. My oldest girl and my youngest, me sandwiched in between, trying not to think about how much faith I’m putting in the baby carrier strapped to my back.

And I’ve been here before. It’s the same, and it’s different.

Uganda’s red dirt covers everything — and every inch of us — by the end of the day, red swirls going down the drain after baths and showers, but it never really washes off. It sticks to my shoe soles months and years after coming back home. And it lives in me now, a living, breathing thing, a relationship, a prayer.

I am back here again, where I have wanted to be for months, and I’m fighting the weariness that’s creeping in.

It’s only been over two weeks and our tickets are booked back for an optimistic five.

It’s just that I miss him. I miss them, those boys. We video chat but it’s impossible to have a conversation. I ask Nathan about a work meeting and I can see the worry in his face. I want to help. I’m so far away.

I couldn’t help if I was near, either, but at least I could be near.


But this is what we do. We are family here and we are family there and this is a season.

When I was here adopting Benja two years ago, I felt a desperation that maybe we would never get home ever again. It nearly crushed me. Three and a half weeks and I thought I would break completely.

This time I’m thankful for that memory, grateful to know that this red dirt road has a beginning but it also has an end. That our time here will have a story arc, that we will experience delays but also progress, that waiting well has more to do with being present, right here and now, than it does with where we’d like to be.

I’m learning, in brief glimpses and short-lived contentment, that longing for home and pouring myself into this moment can coexist. I can be here while I long for home. I can be present while I long for our family to be whole. Be. Long. Together. (The bigger struggle for me is the former. I’m great at longing. But being here, present now — wherever and whatever that means? That’s been a painful lesson, too.)

For so long, I’ve run away from tension, from struggle. I wanted clarity. Certainty, even. But somehow, there is life and truth found in the tension. I forget this all the time, but then I’m thankful when I can see it.

It’s never comfortable. I’m not ever going to “settle in” to the tension, or get so used to the struggle that I can’t feel it anymore.

But maybe I’m starting to prefer it. Maybe I’m starting to see that if there’s no tension, there’s no life. Certainly there can’t be any growth.

I breathe into it,
feel myself in this moment,
imagine myself at home,
and I am both/neither —

and I tell myself
it’s ok,
it’s ok,
it’s ok.


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2 comments on “Finding (Be)longing

  1. Jeb says:

    Tension is a good word for it, it being the thing that draws life…out of us? Into us? On the lighter days I see it as balance. Now you have two lovely Ugandans. It IS okay.

    Also, oh snap, you provoked a reference:

  2. Nikki says:

    That tension you speak of, the longing…I have experienced it when Scott was in Iraq. We didn’t have kids yet…that would have been much more difficult on my own. The definition of brave: possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance. That reminds me of you. Blessings to you all and your beautiful family.