I have been running in circles for the past three years. Plane tickets to places where I wanted to help kept me grounded, waiting on my next flight and dictating my future. It was almost impossible to pull all of me back out of Africa and bring her fully back to the here and now. I grew up in a world of forever, always in one place. We never moved. My grandparents never left the tiny towns in which they were born and they were all born less than 30 miles from each other. We stay. We work forever in the same job and retire there. I have no grid for a girl with three homes. Except, I am one. My thoughts, my grid, my lens will forever be viewed through a bit of Mozambican culture. My work ethic will forever be Davis. My views a little more Labour Party than Democrat or Republican. My religious preference more Anglican than Baptist. I've ingested bits of the cultures surrounding me and I have changed.
I could never go back to my old career nor can I go back to full time missions. For a decade I have been seeking how to marry the two. How can I have a career that will sustain and fulfill me and still be fully intrenched in the cultures I love? How can I still be involved in development and aiding the poor, the orphaned and the widowed and pay for it?
While working in Mozambique I was able to tangibly help my students find jobs and create jobs through our social enterprise. But underneath the money and jobs, were very broken, hurting young men and women. Our time spent together often cloaked in their raw, real stories of abuse and fear. They were never looking for sympathy, they were just giving me the gift of letting me truly see and know them. Their stories always made me feel a bit inept. I never knew what to offer them, other than a listening ear.
While in London I began to look at programs working in counseling, with a particular interest in working with children. I found some brilliant programs that merge very clinical programs with spiritual ones. I applied to a school in Nashville simply because US based programs allow me to be licensed as a therapist in the States. That, and it's Nashville. The university offered a program in clinical mental health counseling. I found out I got in on the top deck of the 88 bus in South London. They offered one extremely competitive assistantship with discounted tuition. I told myself if I got that, I would go. I came to Tennessee to see if this program fit. I even wanted to not like it. But they were sweet, like family you know and love sweet. They listen. They care about each other. They seem genuine. I interviewed graduates, they said good things. I interviewed professors who confirmed it's authenticity. A former student offered me his textbooks. The university offered me the assistantship. I accepted. And then wouldn't you know it, I got a job offer in London. A wonderful one that came with a place to live. A dream job with loads of opportunity. Earl Grey and Hyde Park. I swallowed hard and turned it down.
So now, gripped by the fear of failure and true to my textbook Obsessive Compulsive Disorder- self, equipped with fresh new color coordinated school supplies, I am off to school!