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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

One Down. . .11 To Go

Today marks my one month date of being in Lebanon. Such a strange emotion, somewhat melancholy yet somewhat surprised. I'm surprised that I managed to make it this far with minimal emotional breakdown and support. I would talk to my mom every day about anything that bothered me and now I talk to her once a week or less. I still write long emails so perhaps that has helped with the emotional processing.

The melancholy seemed to be the dominant emotion today though. Frustrated because I am, once again, not challenged in my work, annoyed because the free help and personal time I'm extending to a student is not being respected, and irritated because I cannot communicate in the myriad of languages that swirl with the heat of the ever present beans to rise to the ceiling, I questioned why God brought me here. Then a thought came to mind. Perhaps God didn't call me here. Perhaps I came of my own accord and God allowed me to because He knew I needed to resolve my past and begin to put my life together for a purposeful future. I'd always had a heart for missions but never a calling. I now find myself in a land where I feel perfectly at peace and yet I am lost. My mission is not clear and I'm realizing that I do not easily create a mission on my own. My motivation is found in companionship and teamwork; neither of which is clearly visible.

When I was in California, I wanted to go home. In my mind, home was Egypt, Lebanon, even England and Holland, but it was mostly the countries of my childhood and teenage years where I began to identify who I was and challenge my parents' expectations. Monocultural churches felt uncomfortable, I hated the requisite greeting that asked how I was but didn't wait to hear the answer, and the emphasis on materialism as seen in Walmart and Costco clashed with my simple upbringing. In my alternate reality, the one I'd known prior to California, life was tangible, filled with connection, and free of clutter.

Now I'm in Lebanon, I want to go home. I want to live in a country where I identify with the customs and values as similar to my own. I didn't realize how Western I was until I left. Whereas the country still pulls out of familiarity, I cringe at the piles of rubbish spilling into the streets, I withdraw from interaction because I cannot communicate in multiple languages, and I anxiously count the days til I can return to a country that affirms a woman's independence.

Will this always be my battle to fight? Must I forever live in a liminal tension, the home I remember no longer a reality while the home I reside in leaves me restless for more? These are not easily answered questions. I think perhaps for the ATCK we must learn to find that cutting line between the two where we will balance precariously for a time. It may be the tension will remain until we go to our final Home. Or maybe it is possible to find home, not within a place, but with a person.

11 months ago I didn't know where I was going. My life had been planned out only through the summer and then I would have to decide what the next step would be. I took what seemed to be the only logical one. I think it was the right decision. Now I stand in the same place of uncertainty. In 11 months I will have to decide where to go next or whether to stay. Each day I think Should I leave? Should I stay? Kind people hopefully encourage me to consider staying. I lean more towards going. I do not know where.

I love quotations. One on Google says, Anyone can get a job, but do you have a purpose? ~Tom Butler-Bowden This is a question I need to wrestle with for a little longer. I don't want my time here to turn into a ritual of crossing days with a huge black X and waiting for weekends to retreat into solitariness. I need my life to explode with meaning and purpose. Perhaps this will be the year I find myself. The 18-year old confident teenager who never meant to disappear. It's nearly a lifetime later. It's time.

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