The older I get the more I understand who God created me to be. I am very muchly an introvert. I can be friendly and love to have meaningful conversations with people but I need to have time alone to recharge. 4 years ago courage for me looked like signing up to go and live on a ship in Africa with 450 other people. Living on the ship takes daily courage for me. Everytime I step out of my cabin to engage the community it takes courage. My introvert self would much rather hide in my cabin and read or watch Castle. :) But courage says step out and engage people no matter the cost.
The courage it takes to live here has increased in different ways for me this year. As most of you know I had to say goodbye to many of my closest friends at the end of last year. These were friends that had been here with me from the beginning of my time on the ship. We worked together, lived together and figured out how to navigate living thousands of miles from home on a ship in Africa together. Words are not enough to describe the depth of friendship that is forged through the trials and experiences here. I have friends here who though they have only known me a few years, know me much better than close friends from home.
I knew it would be different this year for me with all the changes but I had no idea how hard it would really be. My second week back from summer the weight of it all hit. I was in a familiar place that was not as familiar with so many of my friends gone. Lots of new, eager crew were here to take the place of my friends. I wanted to engage them, but how do you engage the new when you are just beginning to grieve the loss of the old. I met with one one of the chaplains onboard who had some really great advice for me. After me telling her that it was hard to be here and that I felt stuck in a hard place she simply asked "Do you feel stuck on the ship or stuck in your grief?" She encouraged me to step out in courage and embrace the pain and grief of the loss of my friends but to not stay there so that joy may come.