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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Shake a Hand

I'm a problem solver. I've been here less than a week and I already have some ideas of how to improve things. I like to ask people what their opinion is and get ideas because often those who are in the middle of challenges have the best ideas of how to solve those challenges. For example, the cafeteria serves only one meal on Sunday and while it's billed as brunch, it doesn't function as such. It's cereal and bread and spread but no fresh vegetables or fruit and the hot dishes were foul beans (that aren't cooked long enough) and scrambled eggs. That is not enough to sustain a person all day. When I spoke to a friend about it, they mentioned being proactive and cooking an actual meal on Sundays so they could enjoy something nutritious.

However, though I may be able to troubleshoot meal options, there is one area I cannot easily problem solve. I can't make friends easily. I know this may sound strange as in my family I used to be the most outgoing one. When I left Lebanon 17 years ago, a friend told me "Don't laugh too much" because that was what I did. I enjoyed life and I loved being with my friends. I had a group that I felt comfortable with.

I was sharing my challenges with a friend who is having similar introvert challenges at his school. His answer was to say that he was learning to depend on God to be his all. I replied that yes, it was important to learn that lesson, but equally as important to realize that God created us to be in community to encourage each other. I have spent 17 years thinking that I didn't carry enough value to be someone's friend. I thought that I was supposed to be content with having God as my only friend because if I could learn that lesson then I would be ready for translation. This is said somewhat tongue-in-cheek and yet there is frustrated truth to it also.

What upsets me is when people use God as a cliche without affirming our pain. I'm struggling with being alone. This is something I struggled with where I lived before also, because I didn't have many close friends on campus. I don't know if it's a personality issue or because I'm a TCK. When I share my struggle, all I need to hear is someone saying, "I'm sorry you're having a hard time. I wish I could be there so I could be your friend. I'll pray that God helps you to see opportunities to be friendly to others and that you'll find some good friends soon." That's all. I don't need a sermon on how God should be enough. He is. I love God and I'm so grateful that I have the reassurance that He is with me, even as I sit silently in the cafeteria and eat my cold crunchy beans and standard olive/cucumber/tomato mixture as quickly as possible so I can retreat to my room.

I'm thankful for the wonderful people I'm getting to know here and for the renewed childhood friendships. I'm confident that within time, I will develop deeper friendships with kindred spirits and won't always sit quietly at the table. But for now, for today, I'm lonely and scared because I worry that the next 51 weeks will be empty of companionship. I hope not.

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