The Road Back to Myself

I interviewed for my graduate program without planning to.

You see, I was on a mission. Ever since watching a documentary on sex slavery in India that turned my world upside down, I had been meeting with a few counseling graduate students at my husband’s school. We combed through magazine ads and randomly drove down Aurora Avenue because not much else was happening in domestic anti-trafficking in 2007. But I had heard of a program across the lake that was sending counseling interns to Southeast Asia. I offered to go learn more.

In my initial inquiry, I realized that someone I knew from my years in Turkey directed the program, and he wanted to join us for coffee. I had exactly two hours to get to the school and back while my three kids were taken care of. I remember driving down I-405, excited to help move these aspiring counseling students toward a career in the anti-trafficking industry.

One week later I showed up on a Thursday evening enrolled as a student in a brand-new program: International Community Development.

Who knew the program director was building a new program? Or that he would slyly turn the conversation into an interview, cast a vision for why it was exactly what I had been looking for, and offer me a place in the cohort, which was starting in just a few days!

It was not what I planned, nor knew existed, but it was more than I had hoped. Logistically, the program was the mirror opposite of my husband’s class schedule, which meant our kids were covered. Financially, his new job at his school covered tuition, which meant we could divert funds to pay for mine. Providentially, it just might have saved me.

A year out of overseas work that ended tragically, I was looking for hope. I was bruised and battered and confused by Jesus. As a mom of three little ones, I needed stimulation. I needed adult conversation and challenging assignments. More than anything, I had forgotten who I was.

Yes, this was actually not my first detour. My adult years began in the inner city of Chicago, social policy degree in one hand, broken heart in the other. I was compelled to care for marginalized and disadvantaged children and, therefore, somewhat bewildered years later when I found myself working with privileged college students halfway around the world.

How had I landed so far from my passion? So far from myself?

When I sobbed while watching that documentary about sex trafficking in India, something happened inside of me. Something that had been dormant for years awoke. I didn’t know it then, but learning about those tackling global problems would rekindle my faith. Assignments tailored to Turkey would give me compassion for those I had never noticed while living there. And my thesis would launch a non-profit. In the end, it would result in me working in anti-trafficking.

Perhaps I was more prepared than I realized as I headed south on I-405 to learn about the road that would lead me back to myself. After all, detours don’t have to be forced rerouting. Sometimes they are mere signposts that simply require our curiosity and willingness to steer just a little to the left.

Beth Bruno lives in Colorado where she and her husband get to create life-giving experiences and opportunities for aha moments around God and story. As owners of ReStory Counseling, they do this alongside a team of story-informed coaches and counselors. After living in Turkey for almost a decade, she designed and leads the boutique Lost Women of Turkey Pilgrimage for women each year. With the last of her three kids close to flying the nest, you may soon find her living in one of the cave homes of Cappadocia.