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Friday, July 14, 2017

The Feeling Comes Only Once

The feeling came again. That one of being content, knowing that this is where I'm meant to be. Perhaps I'm a little of an idealist but I like to see life through that lens--it makes those moments glaringly beautiful when they happen.

I had another job offer yesterday. Was sitting in the court watching our team play an outside university, cheering on the spikes and clapping for the clever plays, when my phone vibrated. I knew it wasn't a WhatsApp or Line message, since those light up my screen, so curious, I turned on my phone to see. There was a short succinct message from my previous boss. Would you consider ever coming back? Pray about it and let me know. 

Uncharacteristically, I replied right away, asking for more details though I already knew I would be saying no. They were looking for more employees who believed in the organization's mission as they neared an accreditation phase and my name came to mind. I thanked him for the offer but simply said I knew I was where God wanted me to be. And I'm happy here I ended my message with.

In all honesty, I wasn't happy. I felt like the peace that had pervaded my soul in the past year had dissipated in the face of personal challenges and I was questioning my long-term plan to stay. I was struggling with the When I'm here, I want to be there and when I'm there I want to be here dichotomy all TCKs grown up seem to face.

In the first year, life had been a mad whirlwind of activity and adapting, affirming accomplishments as small as refilling my phone balance when it ran out. Then suddenly the mundane kicked in. The world became a whole lot smaller as I realized I didn't have enough money to buy a car and I wasn't brave enough to take taxis or Uber on my own on a regular basis. Grateful for friends who let me borrow their car, yet frustrated that there was a myriad of things happening without me that I couldn't be a part of, I began to resent planting myself in a land where once again I seemed to be isolated in space.

Life moved on without me, it seemed. And then I realized why I was so restless. I needed a challenge. I needed to have some goal to pursue. Ever since I left college, I had pushed myself to continue learning. Every year, I would do something that stretched me, whether I traveled internationally, took a course in disaster training, published an article in Adventist World, volunteered with an organization fighting human trafficking, or enrolled in a graduate degree in chaplaincy. After completing my graduate degree in leadership in two years, while doing full-time work in part-time hours, God sent me on my next adventure.

Now the adventure seems to have settled into the routine. Now I'm facing the difficult, such as finding a dentist and a family physician, thinking about retirement and do I really want to ship all my stuff over here? Am I ready to commit to that long? Or should I scan all my photos and important documents, throw a huge yard sale, and then pack two suitcases and head to Europe as I country-hop for the next 5 years or so? I always wanted to settle down but suddenly somehow facing the reality of really settling seems to be more than I can handle.

My boss wasn't here so the honours of welcoming and celebrating the July birthdays fell to me as my usually Type-A coworker and friend was occupied on her phone. Though not naturally one to enjoy being up front, I went to the front of the room and warmly welcomed everyone, then gave each birthday celebrant a chance to say a few words. As they were speaking, I realized in that moment that the feeling had returned. It was a simple flash, not the deep abiding that I had been missing for some time, but perhaps, like a car whose starter has died and just been recharged, the peace will eventually return to stay.

Later in the day, I stood in Haber Freres, the fruit and vegetable market at the bottom of the hill, picking through the apricots to find a few good ones to buy. In that moment I realized, I'm doing this. I am living life here and I'm succeeding. After my college years, having been raised in Adventist bubbles, I was terrified of doing life on my own so I did the easy thing and, using my legal status as an excuse, stayed home. Granted, I'm still in a bubble but this time there's a whole lot more I'm responsible for since I'm the adult and thousands of miles away from my mom.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, said Neale Donald Walsch. It's true. I try to challenge myself to do one thing every day, as far as possible, that pushes against what makes me comfortable, whether it's a household chore I'd rather not do, saying hello to a stranger and starting a conversation with them, or traveling to a country I've never been. Then it's those moments that I remember later as being the ones where I really lived.

So here I am, a young woman in my late 30s, questioning the grand scheme of life while learning to find peace in the small.

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