I can’t say I hate traveling anymore, but I don’t love it. When my boss called me into her office one fateful afternoon, she said I needed to go with them to help host our conference in Cote d’Ivoire. I sighed, but also agreed. This one would be bigger than all our previous conferences, so it was an “all hands on deck” thing.
The conference came and went. But, while working as the event photographer, one 5 minute conversation with my friend from Kenya dropped a bomb on the destructive voices that make me doubt, question, or hate my life.
Sound like balderdash? You decide.
Step into the moment
It’s early afternoon. The air clings to my skin in thick beads of water while unseen birds chirp in a symphony. I’m making my rounds taking pictures of anything that moves when I see my friend leaning against a column in the front. The lighting is perfect. She sees me and smiles. I snap a photo.
But as she looks away I notice her smile disappears. Stepping out of photographer mode I ask, “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah,” she says with a beautiful Kenyan accent that emphasizes the words in a distinct rhythm. “Yeah, it will be okay.”
I wait and she explains that back home there is a client who is very upset with her. She placed someone in charge of this client’s order, and her company printed and prepared it. Right now the client is at her office to pick it up and pay, but the person she left in charge is not there, and is not answering their phone.
“Maybe they’re driving,” she says and shrugs slowly (it’s well understood that because people don’t often follow lanes or lights, driving requires one’s full attention). But the client is so angry they threatened that if they don’t get their order in 15 minutes, consider it canceled.
“I’m just figuring how much money I lost,” she says and explains that since the work has already been done, she lost money on the materials used, the labor to prepare it, and now she will have a bulk order of a product that she doesn’t need and can’t use.
“I’m so sorry,” I reply.
She looks at me. “It will be okay,” then gazes at the trees again, “because it has to be.”
“It will be okay, because it has to be.“
I walked away and stared at the floor. Her words shook me. What was my philosophy in high school when I picked up a knife to commit suicide? Or recently, when Joel dumped me? Or when I got a bad grade? It wasn’t this.
It will be okay because it has to be is the mindset of someone who hasn’t given up. I’ve noticed in the USA, we are far too easily discouraged by problems. But in India, Kenya, and Cote d’Ivoire there seems to be a larger sense of accepting all of life—the good and the not so good.
It will be okay because it has to be is a deliberate choice to chase after a goal, accept the failures, and learn at every step.
It will be okay because it has to be is complete trust in God’s plan.
Since committing these words to memory, I have been more at peace whenever something less-than-ideal happens. This simple phrase was like dropping a bomb on my war with anxiety.
What if Jake leaves me?
What if I can’t get a career in the film industry?
What if…No. BOOM.
I’m confident that, had I understood this outlook on life earlier, I might not have had the first panic attack at all.
I hope things worked out for my friend. But I’m so grateful that she shared her worries with me. Because I saw how she approached difficult trials, a weight has lifted from my spirit—and it feels as good as that first drive back. When I’m finally behind the wheel of my car, headed to my home, and the perfect song comes on.
I don’t remember what song played as I finally sat behind the wheel when we got back from Cote d’Ivoire, but this one is pretty good.