africa · Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: Hold


My fingers held tight to the memories, holding dear the wonderful memories. Pushing them back and trying to hold them in, afraid to let it all out. Because it was too raw, and the pain of an abrupt departure was too new.

For months, I held the stories in, unwilling to let them out. Letting them out meant admitting they were memories, not realities. And so I held on.

You see, I’ve lived abroad in two different places. And both times, I was abruptly sent home for medical reasons. When I lived in Mexico, within the span of a few days I went from living in Mexico while studying abroad, to walking franticallyย through the Houston airport, trying to figure out how to say goodbye to dear friends and find my flight home. And in South Africa, an injury led to me packing up 2.5 years of life and saying goodbyes in about two hours, then rushing back to the capital to board a plane and leave the continent that was my home.

And I didn’t want to let go of those memories. The homesickness and culture shock was overwhelming, and the only way to deal with it was to hold tight and push things down, ignoring the rich, wonderful memories.

But as time went on, I began to realize that holding on didn’t help anything. And as I found myself reliving memories, I once again found joy in the memories. The homesickness for my African life gave way to gratitude for the paths God led me down. The struggles of readjustment were eased through sharing my stories.

And instead of holding on, I began to let go. I began to relive the numerous memories from my life in Africa.

And now, throughout October, you’ll be able to read a few of them, as part of my #31days series, as I write about 31 Days of Moments in Africa.



It’s #FMFParty time, which means I’m joining up with hundreds of other writers as part of Five Minute Fridays. Check out Kate’s blog for the full (awesomeness) details of Five Minute Friday.



27 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: Hold

  1. I can’t wait to read about your African memories. It is so hard to hold tight but sometimes even harder to let go. Healing and comfort will prevail in the act of letting go. I’m so glad you found your words tonight. It was so worth it!

  2. You said the words didn’t come easily tonight, but I think this is fantastic! Also, had no idea you had to leave both places so abruptly. How awful. So glad you’re starting to be able to share those stories a bit more, and can’t wait to read your 31 Days series! Have a happy weekend!

    1. Yeah…I felt like the words kinda chugged out tonight, rather than flowed. But thanks for the encouragement, Kate! I’m looking forward to your series as well, of course! Only, what 2 weeks more? EEK!

    1. Thanks Rachel…and yes, returning (from South Africa especially, because I lived there longer) was far, far harder than I had imagined. But the Lord has been walking with me, helping to heal and find joy in the memories and where I am now. Praise Him!

  3. I think what you’re describing so vividly here is that process of ‘re-packing’ your heart, like a suitcase. We have to take it all out, reassess, and work out what stays in the bag and what is left behind for the next leg of our journey. It’s a hard sifting process, but we can repack the treasures with care so they don’t get broken or lost in the future. Sounds like you have a lot of treasure to take care of!

    1. Ruth, wow! What a wonderful analogy! That sounds just right-repacking and reassessing. And I’ve been delaying it for awhile. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks!

  4. I love getting to know you more and more each week Jen. You are always in my prayers. I know the transition wasn’t easy for you and I am excited to learn more about Africa. You’re an amazing story teller and I know you hold those memories very close. I am proud of you for sharing your story each week. (((hugs))) to you my friend ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You are so sweet, Marisa! Thanks for always being there with encouragement and a smile. Well, at least, you make ME smile! ๐Ÿ˜€ ((hugs)) right back at ya!

  5. Stopping by from #FMFparty. I have friends who have lived abroad, or served on short term mission trips abroad, and the land becomes part of them. I feel that way about the North Georgia mountains where I have lived most of my life. I know your 31 day writing journey will be fascinating and a blessing to read.

    1. Thanks Leah! And yes, it really has become a part of who I am, in unexpected ways. I’ll be forever blessed by my time abroad, even if readjustment has been really difficult.

  6. Jen, I am sorry you had to shorten your stays. And yet as I read your post, God had purpose beyond your understanding for both why you were there at all AND why you needed to come home at that particular point in time. I am so glad you are going to write about your stay in Africa. I am excited to follow your posts each of the days & to see what God works as you let Him give you the words. You are precious & I am so glad our paths crossed. Love & Blessings!
    PS – Your button is absolutely beautiful!

    1. Joanne, you are such a wonderful encourager-did you know? Thank you SO much for stopping by today with your (much needed) words of encouragement. And yes, you are absolutely right in that God had a plan for taking me there and bringing me back. And in the past 9 months, I’ve begun to see ways in which bringing me back was all for my good, even though it hasn’t always “felt” that way! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. So glad you’re going to share these precious memories with us! I can’t wait to read them! Are you planning on writing them in five minutes, or write full posts? I’m still trying to decide that! Looking forward to October!

  8. I’ll look forward to reading your 31 days in Africa series. I spent 10months in Africa in 2012-2013. I know what you mean about holding the memories inside. I held mine like a festering wound. Now I talk about Africa with joy.

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