“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
What an extraordinary year of growth, change, strength, love, passion and perseverance. In 12 months, I took a leap of faith and conquered what I once thought was the inevitable.
This time last year I was on a plane headed to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the first time in my entire life. I just graduated from college and finally listened to my heart. I went after my dreams—how life should truly be lived. But in order to do this, I needed a fortitude of faith. What perfectly depicted how I felt on that plane was this exact verse: “Do not be afraid [Naome], for I will protect you, and your reward will be great” Genesis 15:1. I rose my level of expectation because I believed to prepare now for what I would.
God always makes a way when there feels to be no way. Always.
Challenges are conquerable. Impossible is just a challenge no one has conquered, so be the first. I choose to be the first.
Now that’s something very easy to say but not so easy to do. The first 6 months of being in Addis was honestly a spiritual renewing. My life was changing right before my eyes. So much good was presented to me. It almost felt unreal. My identity was becoming more clear to me. I was becoming a confident and strong-willed woman. I was passionate. Everything felt so right. After I completed my fellowship program, I was offered a full time position with an amazing company and sealed the deal. I accepted. The job offer was great. I got to travel. Life was bliss. I was even blessed with an amazing relationship with an amazing man. I was joyous. I was at peace. The honeymoon stage of life was really in full effect.
Then, I was left alone. In solitude. Everyone that I was so comfortable with seemed so far away, literally—7, 681 miles and a 7 hour time difference. There was a strong force of loneliness that inhabited my heart.
It was January. I was experiencing so many emotions. I kept asking God, “what was this that I signed up for?” I didn’t think it’d be this hard. I didn’t think I’d feel how I was feeling. I didn’t think being away from my mom would make me feel so lonely. I didn’t think a long distance relationship would require so much work and patience. It was a time to really learn how to love and care; for myself and for the people most important to me. But at the same time, I felt like giving up. Although I had an amazing job in Ethiopia, the spirit of loneliness captivated my life. I felt trapped. It was not until I heard a sermon one day at church. Pastor Z said “God isn’t looking for your ability. He’s looking for your willingness.” God really was seeking for me but waiting to see how willing I was to seek His kingdom.
At the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. When God speaks, He’s shifting you to a new day. God was speaking to me. He wanted me to depend on Him, especially for what I was going to experience moving forward. I needed Him.
I really connected with my family during my time in Addis. Meeting them for the first time was the greatest gift. My mom was able to come in January and we visited family together. After my mom went back to the states, the hardest three months invaded my life.
My aunt and grandma both passed away.
It was a very difficult time for me. I couldn’t understand what was happening. It was all so unexpected. It took me some time, but I approached a period where I became thankful. I had an amazing support system that really helped me get to that point. I was thankful for the lives they both lived. I was thankful my mom and I were able to share memories with them, together. I was so thankful. I had faith. I had faith that God works with such power and might. Faith changes what you do and how you think. You connect faith into hope and then turn that into a seed. I had hope that God would give me strength—and He did.
Work was progressing and I was growing in my position. I was beginning to understand how much my life was changing and coming to peace with it. With growth, comes a period where you lose friends and gain new ones. The people who have come into my life throughout this year have been a beautiful blessing. It’s all apart of the process. I knew God was working. He was working so perfectly.
I was then able to finally go back home for vacation in June. Those 21 days were the best days. I was rejuvenated. I spent time with my mom and friends. My relationship was becoming more and more of a blessing to me. I was and still am SO happy. Everything I was fighting and pulling through for was coming together.
God is good and will always be good.
I’m back in Addis now—finishing up my time here.
Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I’ve conquered what I once thought could never be a reality..
Cheers to one year. God paved the way. I’m just walking on the path He set out for me.