On Looking Back and Moving Forward

My last Sunday at ICA with my friend Tanya. Wearing my traditional Ukrainian vyshyvanka.
My last Sunday at ICA with my friend Tanya. Wearing my traditional Ukrainian vyshyvanka.

This weekend is the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. It feels strange to be on this side of the world and watching from afar as this place I so love fights to keep that freedom.

In some ways it felt like time all but stopped when I left Ukraine in early spring. It was all right and all wrong at the same time. Since then, America has been this surreal feeling of moving frantically yet going nowhere in particular.

I’ve wanted to give you, to give myself, a plan, a timeline, an assurance, but I’ve had none and so I’ve remained all too silent.

Afraid you wouldn’t understand, after all, neither do I. Afraid you would deem me a quitter, a failure, a disappointment. And then as the clock marches relentlessly onward, it becomes easier to fade quietly into the shadows and hope no one asks and no one notices.

Right or wrong, in many ways I’ve felt guilty being here in America. While I’m sipping my Starbucks and trying to find my feet, I know some of the feelings and uncertainties that are a constant companion now for my Ukrainian family and how exhausting it can be. It seems all I can do from here is pray… and cry. It also seems I have forgotten that this is more powerful than all the elite armies of the world.

During this time, I have found that I am similar to my beloved adopted country — desiring change, yet resistant and stubborn beyond belief!

While Ukraine is growing up and figuring out the direction she will go in the future and fighting for the right to make those decisions, I find that I, too, have been in a battle of my own to figure out who God made me to be and discovering possibilities for a longer term timeline than the next 6-12 months.

Like kudzu slowly creeping its way across everything that lies in its path, my anxieties have grown and crept into cracks and crannies in the recesses of my heart. Life in Ukraine can be somewhat unforgiving and so I put on my strong face and marched ever forward until I simply couldn’t. It wasn’t the conflict that sent me home, it was my own neglect and pride catching up.

A year ago I was in the worst physical pain of my life, suffering from a herniated cervical disc and still trying to push through because that’s what I do, and that’s what I did for another six months. But sometimes you have to admit that something has to change, and that you cannot do it alone.

So that’s how I’ve come to find myself not in Ukraine, but in Los Angeles, California.

I’m staying with the Magnet family, who I met during my World Race in 2009. Since that crazy time of life, our paths have crossed several times (in several countries) and I have come to consider them my spiritual parents. I knew coming home that I needed to be with some people who would understand this crazy transition time, be familiar with all the good and bad that goes into a life overseas, but who could also be firm and loving to help me re-focus. They actually proposed the idea before I could and things fell into place.

It hasn’t all been peaches and cream for sure, but I think I am finally starting to move forward and get some direction which I hope to be sharing a little with you soon. One thing is certain, near or far, Ukraine is still the place God has put in my heart. I just know my feet need to be planted in American soil for a while.

Please continue to pray for Ukraine and the people there. The situation is tense and intense and changes frequently.

I try to keep my Facebook page a little more updated with prayer requests, news sources, and information from those I know on the ground in Ukraine. If you don’t follow yet and want to CLICK HERE.