post mission trip depression is very real. or as my friend, Amy, once called it, 'mission trip detox.' it's real + it hurts + it can last for months...or in my case, an entire year. but, that isn't what I wanted to talk to you about in this post; I wanted to talk to you about PRE-mission trip depression.
it all started in December of 2012. something happened in my life, right before my 18th birthday. something that doesn't need to be shared + it really doesn't matter what it was. it left me hurt, sad, and really unhappy. I hadn't seen it coming + when it did, it really affected me negatively.
I didn't get over it, either. I didn't have time to process those emotions, because, before I could, something else happened. my best friend told me she wasn't allowed to speak to me anymore. there was a reason, but really, it doesn't matter what it was. I was angry + again, really hurt + upset. I had never had many friends + so losing her seemed like the end of the world.
I didn't get over that either. in February I was accused of doing something I didn't do by two families in my church, the church my family had been attending for 15 years. I was completely innocent, but nothing was ever done to prove that innocence, even though we took it to the pastors of the church. and so, before we knew it, we had left the church + were left without a church home. 15 years of going to the same church will make it very difficult to leave. plus, I should mention that my two "best friends" were the ones who accused me of doing the horrible thing. so there's that.
I didn't get over that either. but I learned something about myself. I'm excellent at faking it. everyone (except maybe my parents) thought I was just fine. I 'adapted well' and seemed 'to handle change really well.' ha. ha. ha. I laughed at those comments when the people turned their backs.
I was in a rough spot, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. on top of everything, I was trying to prepare for a trip to Slovakia. the timing seemed so inconvenient. meetings + raising support just seemed really trivial in comparison with everything that was happening + had happened. I started to view Slovakia as my escape. I wanted to go simply so I could get away from bad memories. but God had a different plan.
that trip to Slovakia changed my life. I say that all the time, on my blog as well as in real life. and I mean it. I really do. it didn't just change one day of my life or change my future...it literally changed my entire life. you want to know why? let me explain:
it changed my past. I hadn't worked through any of those emotions I was feeling. I hadn't allowed myself to feel pain or grief or be angry or forgive. I did that while I was in Slovakia. (in 2013 AND 2014). I looked back on everything that had happened and I saw how God had protected me from certain situations and I saw that even though the things that happened were totally crappy, I had grown because of them. I cried a lot while I was in Slovakia. this year while I was there, I told my friend David the whole story of everything that happened at my old church. just laying it all out felt so good.
it changed my present. while I was there, I felt Jesus' presence in a way I never had before. I realized how much I loved Him + just how much He was doing through me + in me. it changed the way I viewed people + the way I wanted to treat them.
it changed my future. my biggest dream had always just been to get married + have kids, and yes, that's still a big dream of mine...but after being in Slovakia, I discovered a new dream. I want to do longer term missions in Slovakia and see how God can use me there. I want to spend more than 12 days in Nove Zamky.
my pre-mission trip depression was very real, y'all. as real as my post-mission trip depression. I don't use the term depression lightly either. ask my family. before + after that Slovakia trip, I was in a rough place. it was really hard + it's not something I would wish on anyone. BUT...there is beauty in the mess, and that beauty for me turned out to be a country called Slovakia.
for the record, I'm not saying that you should pack up your bags and go to Slovakia if you're in a rough place. maybe you should just sit + listen + wait for God to heal your heart in His own timing. it took me over a year and a half to find complete healing from those things that happened. I wasn't completely over it all until this summer when I was in Slovakia again. sometimes, I think, God allows us to hurt for longer so that we discover our need for Him. and also, maybe it's so we can fall in love with something new, with someone new, or with some place that's new.
at least, that's what happened with me.