So I figured I’d give this a try, since in the middle of the night my thoughts have so completely built up I’m ready to explode. The title of my blog definitely sums up who I am. Johnna. 25 (26 on Monday). Faulty lungs. Was once a missionary, and sometimes forget that I’m not anymore. And most recent, Mother.
The last one doesn’t entirely fit me well yet, although I helped raise 18 kids for five years in Haiti. Having your own is different. You actually can’t be selfish. Like, there’s no room for it. How does selfishness get squeezed out of a person so quickly? I can’t answer, because for me it hasn’t.
I just realized that many people who might check this little blog out may not have known I now have Levi. That’s his name. Levi Michael. He’ll be seven weeks old on Monday, and the majority of people found out about him once he already entered this world, screaming like a good boy. He is, somehow, the cutest, happiest baby around, despite the constant tears during the pregnancy, my inability to forgive myself, and pretty much no experience with newborns. We get along pretty well, but every now and then we battle it out. He reminds me that he didn’t ask to be created, and in return I become more motivated to die to myself and my desires, in order to serve him and give him the best possible life he could have. We speak to him only in Creole, in hopes that he’ll actually pick it up and embrace his half Haitian-ness.
Which brings me to his dad. His dad, simply put, was my first love and my only love, so far. We met in Haiti, and we had a dramatic on/off relationship for 4 years, which never is good news. Many people probably know him, and I’m sure many don’t, but he is becoming more and more the man God created him to be every day. Levi helps this. Babies make you grow up, fast. His name is Michel, and he’s an incredible father. Unfortunately our love wasn’t the lasting kind, at least not the love you marry. Now our love is respectful and mature, understanding and honest. We have committed ourselves to being the best parents we could possibly be, besides the fact that we aren’t together. That’s really all that’s important. If this unfolds and truly becomes a place I put my words, I’m sure all the lessons I’ve learned will appear here too.
Sometimes things happen entirely opposite of how we’ve imagined them to. I’m weak and pathetic but if there is something I can do, it’s embracing life and God wherever I’m at. Just now my phone rings and it’s Mika. I met Mika when she was 14 years old, inside the mountains of Haiti. She taught me how to make plantains, how to cross the river without falling, how to gracefully swing your leg over a motorcycle seat, how to braid inside out braids, all before we could speak the same language. I watched her have her conversion to Christ. I watched her levitate on the front steps of the orphanage after the earthquake, because she was praising God for His control over life and death, rain and sun, ground beneath our feet, or no ground at all. I listened to her ask Jesus to give her light so she could read the Bible, while all crammed in a tiny room in darkness, and her cross lit up before my eyes. We were crazy together, surprise visiting elderly people and being so rowdy we’d fluster them, making them sit down and tell us we’re only young once, laugh as much as we want. We’d go puppy shopping, if you will, and come back to the orphanage with a new addition to our family every month. We’d go running in the rain, her in some leopard baggy donated shorts and sandals, me in my way too American running attire, and then jump into the river and realize that somewhere between English and Creole, America and Haiti, we became sisters.
I left Haiti without telling her why. I left Haiti quietly, in secret, suffering. I didn’t have the words to explain I’d failed myself and everyone around me. She calls now and I answer in a whisper. She immediately starts laughing at me. Asks if I was sleeping. I say no, Levi is. She laughs harder.
“You’re a mom, you know that right?”
“No, this is all a joke.”
“Speaking of jokes, I need some money. Which isn’t a joke at all.”
And then she keeps laughing, so much that she gets disconnected, which makes me laugh, because buying a phone card is way out of her budget, if she ever had one. We hang up and my heart feels light. I keep Haiti buried so deep inside of me, really only because I don’t know how to express any of it. And then she calls and laughs at me because now I have Levi, and my entire life has changed; hit by a train changed. But that’s Haiti. Haitians can have their entire world turned upside down a couple times a week, or once a month, or every year, or for some, daily, and they’re unalterable. They remain faithful. They remain passionate. They remain hopeful. They keep laughing.
So when I tell Mika how much I struggled the past couple months, and she laughs at me, I take it as a compliment and laugh at myself too. That’s the beauty of life; we are always who we are. We’re resilient, whether we know it or not.
I’m Johnna. I don’t breathe well. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do with my life, now that I already did what I wanted to do, but left it. I have a Levi. A little baby Levi. And I’m still loving God.
And, thankfully, I’m still laughing.