Author’s Note: This story was written at the request of a friend who worked with me in Bangladesh. The prompt was “Harnessing Strength in Times of Uncertainty.” Before COVID-19, I was navigating a new season of change. I am thankful for friends like David and Gaina who have given me space to reflect. Check out their incredible coffee company and new cookbook at www.davilakafe.com.
The day after my husband left for Iraq, I was on a plane to Nicaragua, a small country in Central America. Although we intended to serve one year in the diplomatic mission of Iraq together, we had no idea that a few months later, my job would be cut, and my husband would be going alone. We soon found out that, due to the security situation in the region, we had unintentionally signed up for an unaccompanied assignment.
In the first six months, while my husband was posted to Iraq, I worked in three different countries and utilized two different languages. I was blessed to always receive my follow-on assignments a few days before the previous job ended. I lived in hotels and showed up to work with new colleagues to solve new problems. Life demanded flexibility and adaptability. I could either rise to the occasion or fall apart.
In Costa Rica, on my second assignment, acknowledging that this unaccompanied assignment was my “new normal,” I began to intentionally pour into my spirit. I read and listened to books and online sermons. I indulged in lavish self-care: long baths, trips to the spa, and deep-tissue massages. I reconnected with friends that I loved dearly but called too infrequently. I wrote new prayers and vision for my life. I read old prayers to remember which requests God had answered. I learned to respect the ones He denied.
Out of abundant self-love, I could affirm and encourage my husband while he worked in an increasingly-active war zone. Though I met him as a college freshman and became an adult alongside him, I learned to fortify him in prayer from afar. As a person who loves making lists and plans, responding to this season of uncertainty was a challenge. I had to reorganize my goals, my plans, and even my sense of identity.
In my last two weeks in Costa Rica, I was notified that I would not be allowed to extend my time at the embassy there. I was well adjusted and performing, and it felt comfortable to stay where my contribution was valued. Instead, I was offered an assignment in Egypt. After all I had endured, it was hard to believe that I was being offered a job in the place I most wanted to be in the world. Egypt was my dream assignment since we began working in the Department of State. I gathered my resolve and my belongings. Thankful for every experience along the way, I walked through the next open door. I have learned to let go, move forward, and, in the process, evolve.