A few months ago, the words stopped flowing. I wrote a post talking about all the words I was processing through, and after that post, I just stopped writing.
For those of you that know me, this is so unusual. I am always writing something.
But the last two months, everything in my brain literally just stopped. I’ve hardly even looked at my blog over the last two months. Let’s just say, my brain took a little hiatus*.
But last week I had a beautiful revelation.
And with that revelation, I finally feel free to write again.
Last year July I moved to Amsterdam from Cape Town, and honestly, it was hard.
I literally knew two people in the city, both over 50 (xoxo couldn’t have made it without them ps).
There was no Not For Sale Netherlands yet, my only other colleague hadn’t started working with us yet, the NL passport I was hoping to get hadn’t come through yet, and I felt like I had just walked away from my whole identity. The identity of the girl who founded Not For Sale South Africa. The identity of being someone’s girlfriend. The identity of living and surfing and moving and shaking and making a difference. I had left friends and surrogate family and a continent I loved for something totally unknown. I gave away most of my stuff and rocked up at a house to move in with girls I had never met before.
And when I came to Amsterdam, I felt like people I was meeting in the counter-trafficking world didn’t take it so well. Who was I to come into their city and think I could do anything?
Phew. How’s that for a bit of a sob story?
Some nights I would be riding my bike in the pouring rain wondering if I never made it home if anyone in this whole damn city would notice.
Sometimes God gives us a crazy task to do, and it is just plain hard.
After three months in Amsterdam and still no passport, I had to leave the country and wait out another three months before I could re-enter Europe. It all threw me into turmoil. I wondered if I made the right decision in moving and I wondered if I could even be effective… Mostly I wondered if I was just way to intense and a bit too much of a failure as a Christian to really do any good (ya, ya, I overthink everything, gosh no wonnnnder my brain shuts down on me sometimes!).
In the middle of all that I got to speak at Passion 2012, which was, legitimately crazy-huge and super awesome, but also brought all those insecurities and wondering to the forefront. I just felt like I wasn’t good enough or secure enough to be the one to tell others to do something amazing, when I seriously did’t know if I was doing the right thing.
I was kinda ready to give up. But God kept opening doors and there was a constant nudging forward. So despite my dragging feet, forward I went.
In February I returned to Amsterdam. Life spun on and I continued to wonder.
Am I where I am supposed to be?
At the time, I became acutely aware of the fact that what we were doing here in Amsterdam was something totally different to anything that had been done before with regards to addressing human trafficking and exploitation. But still the doubts lingered.
So as lent rolled around, I took on the Fast For Freedom challenge, and chose to fast some of my comforts for forty days, during which time I wanted to truly seek God for some peace. I needed assurance that I was still on the right track.
That was an incredible time for me. Something about setting aside a few of life’s distractions and calling on the name of the Lord brings peace, even if it doesn’t necessarily bring the answers your hoping for.
So that is the back-background. Now let me bring you up to more recent events.
In March/April, my heart was busy hurting. I was finally processing some hard things in my life. You know, break-up, family pain, stress of change, fear, loneliness, neediness… ugh all those unattractive things, and since I am a procrastinator in the worst way, the hurt coming to the forefront to be dealt with was long overdue.
During that time, I randomly stepped into a prayer time where a woman was speaking words of life over people. (I kinda fear strangers praying for me), but decided to go forward anyway – and you know, despite my hesitation, words were spoken into my life that night that were like a shot of strength straight to my heart.
Words of love, family, patience, future, identity, provision, and God’s goodness. I practically floated home.
I didn’t realise it until very recently, but those words, that time of fasting, the struggles of the last few months, were shaping me, helping me let go of what was, and step into what will be.
At the end of April, I went to Ukraine for a weekend conference with those who are working on the ground with human trafficking (I promise, I will write a whole post just on that), but it was another shot of much needed strength. To be with people working on the ground in Eastern Europe faithfully addressing some of the root causes of human trafficking, and dealing with some of the most difficult circumstances with regards to sex trafficking, was inspiring to say the least.
And then May came along, May was a world-wind involving a solidification of the work we were doing in Amsterdam. HOME, the work of delivering nutritious soup to the women working in window prostitution, was finally happening, and despite some serious daily challenges, it was working. In May I also took two trips to North America, both were super short, and involved a lot of talking, music, and processing. It also made me come face-to-face with the fact that Amsterdam has become home; somewhere in the midst of crazy soup deliveries, housemates who were strangers and are now family, and random moments of uncertainty about the future, I’ve had the revelation that I am finally feeling contentment.
I still don’t have answers to a lot of the things I was wondering about for my life and future, but I do feel less pressure to have it all figured out. Continually over the last few months, God has come through in incredible ways. Prayers have been answered.
My housemate always says that Amsterdam is not a love at first site city, more like a love/hate relationship, with emotions changing as often as the weather. She says it usually takes a year for people to reach a place of contentment with this city. As the one year anniversary of my move to Amsterdam comes up, I feel like I can totally identify with that. But I also have come to embrace the word contentment as a key part of where I am at currently.
So cheers to being content, seeing prayers answered, and many more blog posts coming up in the next little while!
*Totally random tangent; I wikipedia’d hiatus, and discovered that besides being a fancy name for a break or recess, it is also the name of a Belgium crustcore band… what the heck is crustcore you, like me, might be wondering. Don’t worry, I googled crustcore and according to urban dictionary: “crustcore: The punk equivalent of grindcore- insanely fast, loud with incredibly garbled vocals that sound like “ruh-ruh-ruh-raaarrwwggg”.”
Amazing. Now you have some more totally useless information in your head. Your welcome.
Oh P.S. abolitionist stuff available for your reading interest at www.itwasforfreedom.org
P.S.S. I made my hair pretty —->