We have officially entered the season of spring around these parts. We are so glad to see winter go and have been enjoying the warmer days and nights! I hope you’ve all been enjoying the posts from the kids and also the random news we’ve been sharing about our life here in South Africa. I know that I have been a bit more quiet and reluctant to share some of my personal thoughts lately. I usually do not have a problem with laying it all out there for others to read, but I think that is because most of the people who were reading this blog either knew me very well and loved my in spite of my flaws, or they didn’t really know me at all, but didn’t live close enough that I cared what they thought. Now I find myself living in a new place with new friends and acquaintances who don’t really know me yet, yet I see them each week so I kind of find myself caring more about what they might think of me. So I’ve been keeping more quiet, but over the past couple days I’ve come to the realization that I may as well let my true self have a voice and if people here find me strange, I can just console myself with some Cadbury milk chocolate!
These past few weeks have been a bit rough on me. I have even found myself thinking “Please God, let this all be a dream. Let me wake up and be back in our house on Elm Avenue.” We have heard and read about the experiences of other people who have moved overseas, and many of them have indicated that when you move, there is a honeymoon period where everything is new and interesting and kind of fun. Then reality sets in and you realize that yes, this is your life, and that realization is not always so pleasant. I think that reality has set in for me. The newness of life here has started to wear off and the knowledge that we are going to be living here for an indefinite amount of time has set in. I have a lot of good moments and a lot of good days, but I also have times that are just soul crushing. I feel tired, weak, alone and afraid.
I have been reading “Jesus Calling” every day and have been really encouraged by the things I’ve read recently. August 31 was especially powerful to me. Here is a passage from that day:
Grow strong in your weakness. Some of my children I’ve gifted with abundant strength and stamina. Others, like you, have received the humble gift of frailty. Your fragility is not a punishment, nor does it indicate a lack of faith. On the contrary, weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me to get you through the day. I am developing your ability to trust in Me, to lean on Me, rather than on your understanding.
One of the Bible passages that went along with this reading was Isaiah 40:28-31, which speaks of God increasing the power of the weak and renewing the strength of those who hope in Him. One of the other passages was Proverbs 3:5, which happened to be the same verse that the kids were learning this past week during home school, so I just felt like God was giving me a gentle reminder to continue to trust Him. To trust Him to be my strength, to trust Him to be my guide, to trust Him to get me through each day.
This whole process of moving to a different country, of packing up a comfortable, well loved life, of saying good-bye to dear friends and family has not been easy. In fact, it has been just plain difficult most days. So many things have changed, and change is hard. Not only has our physical world and daily life changed, but I have been changing as well. This, too, is hard, but I also know it is good. I know that God has us here for His purposes. As of right now, I do not really know what that purpose is, but I am learning to trust God and not just sit and worry about what we’re doing and if we should be doing something else. Notice I said I am “learning” to trust, which does not mean that my days of worrying have completely subsided. I tend to have a lot of anxiety and fear, but I have already seen how God has been working in my life and has been strengthening my weak self.
I struggle a lot with comparing myself to others, especially to other women who have moved here from other countries, both those who have moved recently or who have lived here for many years. I look at these other women and think “She is so well adjusted” or “She seems to take everything in stride” or “I am sure she thinks I am a total nut job.” They all seem to have been gifted with “strength and stamina” and then there’s me, the frail one. I have been really fighting against playing the whole comparison game as it does no good. I can only be me. I am who God has made me, and He has made me good.
Each day that we are here I am seeing how truly weak I am and how desperately I need Him. Yes, there is this part of me that selfishly and sinfully thinks, “I’d rather have my old life back. Forget the whole process of changing and growing and being made new. Just give me back what I had and I’ll be just fine.” Yet there is a bigger part of me that wants this process to continue, even though it hurts and just plain stinks at times.
Does this mean that I won’t be crying anymore or feel homesick? No, I’m sure that is not what it means. I’m sure I’ll still have plenty of hard days; Days when I hear about friends getting together and want to bawl because it hurts so bad to miss out. I think these next months are going to be full of ups and downs, highs and lows. I’m sure I’ll have times where I feel super secure in my own skin and times when I look around and feel “less than”. I’ll have moments where I feel like I am starting to fit in and make friends and moments where I feel lost and alone. Yet, for now I’ll just keep on pressing on, trusting in Him to help me grow strong in my weakness. What else can I do?