What happens when you can’t find paradise, in paradise?

I haven’t written anything on this blog in over a year. There are so many moments prior to this that I should have penned my thoughts to soothe my soul, but, in the busy way I have chosen to live my life I just couldn’t seem to make this a priority space. And so, here I find myself stranded on the island of Mauritius, thousands of miles from anything familiar, in a global LOCKDOWN during the Co-vid 19 pandemic, and well what do you know the opportunity to write and outwork my feelings with all of you arises. Who would have thought?

We’re sitting on Day 8 of Lock down here. For those of you who don’t know we are in Mauritius and they closed their borders and shut down the island 24 hours after we arrived on the 19th March. We have been house bound ever since and are looking towards an extremely prolonged stay here on this small African slice of paradise.

Now I know what most of you are thinking. How amazing! Look at you guys in lock down in paradise. You’re so lucky! I’m pretty sure you may, at some point, have looked at our situation and thought “How hard can it be?” I get it. And you know what there are many positives and things that I am grateful for. I have consciously chosen not to dwell on negative sides to our situation. But (BUT) I didn’t start out this way. When we got news of the lockdown and the shops closing. When we were told that our flights home wouldn’t be possible. When we discovered we would not be allowed to leave the house for the holiday and would not even be allowed in the ocean. When I looked at the reality of our “holiday” I could not see PARADISE. I was in paradise. But I just couldn’t see it and I was devastated. The loss of what I had dreamt and anticipated felt so raw and in the early days of this moment I struggled with my own emotion and I struggled with my God.

I have carried this awful tension within me knowing that this is just a holiday and for others the ramifications of this pandemic are much more extreme. I know that In light of what some people have been experiencing and are experiencing even now, this is relatively a small thing and I am by no means comparing my loss of a holiday to the loss of a life or the devastation of businesses closing. I feel and empathise with the pain of those who have had to put funerals or memorial services on hold. For the expectant couple that have had to postpone their wedding. I know of people who have been kept from their children in foreign countries and I know of others who are facing the prospect of giving birth alone because they are not allowing any one but medical staff into labour wards. There is just so much pain and fear prevalent right now and if I am honest I feel like I’m carrying it all in my heart. I feel it ALL. I truly feel the magnitude of the loss. The grief. My heart has bled in these few days here on the island. And so, in an attempt to work through my own disappointment and find the strength, peace and joy I need to walk through this season well; I went before God for comfort and hope. Because HE IS THE SOURCE OF ALL THESE THINGS.

I had a breakthrough moment in Day 3 of our Lock down.You should expect to feel some sense of loss on Day 3, I feel this is the natural progression fo restriction and confinement. The beautiful house keeper who was due to visit us every day could no longer come and so there I was having swept, mopped the floor and washed the dishes, now hanging up some washing and surrounded by laundry, I began to cry.   The kind of aching cry that comes from deep within your soul. I cried for me, what I felt I had lost in our holiday. My daughter heart ached before God. I cried for my kids and the real disappointment and anxiety they were carrying. I cried for you. For what I knew was coming to South Africa. I cried for the nations, for my friends in the West and my friends in the East. I cried for businesses and I cried for our school students. I cried for my Housekeeper at home, for her community and their lack of resources. I cried for the changes coming to the world and I cried for all that had been lost as this virus has moved through home after home after home. I JUST CRIED.

I wish I could adequately articulate the wrap around kindness of God that met me in that cry. The presence of God that found me in some back yard washing up area. I love that Jesus will go anywhere to find us. He doesn’t need a perfectly groomed home or a stunning church setting. He just needs an open and surrendered heart. And so as I hung up pyjamas and underwear. As I stretched out shirts and pegged on dresses. He came through and He reminded me that in every season of my life HE HAS SHOWN UP. Jesus has never left and He never will. I am held perfectly in this moment ON THE ISLAND OF MAURITIUS, by the very hand of God.

This is what I know for sure. There will be days where you feel like you wanna keep sipping on you self made drinks around your pool in the most idyllic time of the year in a season called lockdown that just feels like a holiday. I know in SA the braai’s (barbeques) will be operating and the energy will be high at this start. But let me be an encouragement to you. When your mind begins to run wild and when your daily schedules for your family lose their value. When your kids are falling apart and your partner is seemingly distant. When facebook isn’t enough and your screen time has reached its’ maximum. When the bank accounts are empty and the restrictions of movement are imposed JESUS IS WITH YOU EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. He is not far off and distant. He is not watching us struggle and strive. He is in the very thick of our lives leading us with wisdom, mercy and grace as we navigate the most fascinating and daunting time in history. Don’t lose hope. Be honest about where you are at. Stay connected to people who matter. Cry if you need to. Because this is the truest of truths – It’s gonna be ok. This won’t last – it is not the end !!! IT IS GOING TO BE OK.

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