The Tension of Today

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I went on my first short-term mission trip when I was in high school. I packed ankle length skirts and modest tops (and matching bandanas for my hair, of course) and headed to Managua, Nicaragua. In my short week there, I observed a culture very different from my own, I experienced what it felt like to be a foreigner, and I was exposed to extreme poverty. As I walked through the tents of a refugee camp that housed families who had been displaced by a devastating hurricane, I began to grasp my own privilege.

When I landed back on U.S. soil, I was simultaneously relieved and uncomfortable with the things that had previously been my normal – from meals to clothes to social norms to routines. It took me a long time to fully comprehend what was happening in my heart and mind and soul; I was somehow changed. The things that I had seen had impacted me deeply; they had begun to shift my worldview.

IMG_1603The tension was that while my worldview had shifted, my real-life non-mission trip world as a high-schooler hadn’t shifted. I had to return to school, to my part-time job, to friendships, and normal teenage social pressure, but my normal life didn’t feel quite so normal anymore. I had a hard time sorting through how what I had experienced and what I was thinking about fit back into everyday life.

I’ve been having a hard-time articulating how I am feeling as of late. And because we have the best people in our lives, we are getting asked how we are doing a lot these days. As I’ve been doing some emotional self-assessment, I have decided that I’m feeling a lot like 11th grade post-first mission trip Allison. I have experienced, observed, and been exposed to some incredibly heavy things this year as I have walked with my husband through cancer treatments. And now, while we’re on a break from treatments and normal life can resume (at least temporarily) I am experiencing that familiar tension. I’m not sure how what I have experienced fits in with pre-cancer life.

I’m doing a lot less “cancer-wife” activities these days and a lot more “normal-life” activities. Life is starting to look more like it used to – it just doesn’t quite feel like it used to. I know that, at least with mission trips, the fusion of new experiences with normal life does happen. Normal life shifts a bit to accommodate new world views, and world views shift a smidge to accommodate the mandatory normal and somehow, in time, there is less incongruence. But ‘in time’ is the key phrase.

And so here I am, in the middle of waiting for normal life and cancer life to fuse into something that feels normal-ish. I’m waffling between cancer-shock and acceptance that this will forever change me. So in the spirit of honesty, I’ll leave this post in the tension that I’m feeling without a nice summary or Scripture-bow on top – maybe those will come with future posts.

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8 thoughts on “The Tension of Today

  1. 1. Have we ever talked about the fact that Managua was the first mission trip experience for both of us?

    2. That pic of you!

    3. Woof. Your closing of this post… {thank you for not fabricating a red bow to wrap this up}

    4. I love you, friend.

  2. Hey Allison. We’ve never met. I used to work-out with Adam at the Y. I’ve been following your journey via the internet. People have been very kind to me as of late and I’d like to pay it forward. I’ve been in a similar place, and I want to tell you that it gets better. I was in 9/11 in 2001 and didn’t deal with what I saw until this year. I lived with PTSD for 14 years. It’s taken a year of therapy, meditation, visualization, A TATTOO and publicly telling my story, but I’m healing. And you guys will, too. Love from the West Side. xoxo Kim

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Kim. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. I’m so sorry that you lived through trauma and then lived with trauma. So glad you’re healing and that you’re sharing your healing with others. I’m so thankful for good therapists and good people who share their journeys.

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