We all reach a time when we’re no longer happy where we are. For some it’s just a matter of restlessness, others have grown to a point they need a new challenge, and occasionally it’s just about becoming so uncomfortable where you are that the unknown holds more hope than your present reality. For some of us lucky ones, we’re hit with all three of these motivations.
I come from a family of restless people. My dad grew up in the mission field, so standing still is a relatively new concept for him. My mom grew up in one place and I think had stood still for too long. So I grew up moving around, but never fully understanding the reasonings behind the decisions.
For the most part, I just experienced the consequences of moving, good or bad. I learned how to make new friends. And I learned that friendship isn’t forever, so you have to enjoy every drop of it while you can. I learned that being somewhere new doesn’t mean you’re alone as long as you’re with family. Treating where you live as if you’re just passing through allows you to live like a tourist in your own town. There’s no expectation of “well, next year I’ll check out that festival” because you really never expect to be there next year.
There were definitely some things I missed out on learning though. I’m not that good at fighting for my friendships or making them work long-term. I don’t really know how to settle down without the expectation of leaving. I’m not going to say I learned to run away from my problems, but I did learn that problems stick with you as long as you’re holding on to them.
But now that I’m on the side of making the decisions about whether or not to move, I find there’s so much going on behind the scenes, and I don’t even have kids to worry about (oh, my poor parents). For once in my life I’m seeing the value of hitting the open road. And maybe what’s really important is the change, not necessarily what’s at the end of the map. I’ve learned today, that sometimes just getting in the car is the step that needs to take place.
I have no fear of the destination, or lack thereof. Every city has amazing places to visit, every church has some incredible lessons to teach you. An office will always come with some fun new challenges and some frustrations. And friends can be made anywhere. Every destination is a good destination. And every journey ends somewhere.
Last night I spent some time talking to an amazing couple in a somewhat similiar-to-ours multi-cultural relationship. Well, even more interesting was observing the dynamics of the bilingual aspect of their relationship. Both speak Spanish and English very well, and I’m guessing the husband also has a third language under his belt. As I started the conversation in English, they continued. Though I speak and understand Spanish fine, the English teacher in me kept speaking in English to keep the wife practicing. But under normal circumstances they communicate to each other in Spanish.
I make Daniel speak English here in the States, and I spoke in Spanish in Peru. Eventually I’m sure we’ll go back to Spanish when I start slipping there or need to brush up on my expressions. But let’s be honest, no bilingual couple stays 100% in any language. And I noticed this even in our conversation last night. Certain sentences were in Spanish, sometimes out of excitement, sometimes because the topic just didn’t feel as natural in English.
//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.jsBut the one thing I loved watching was what happened every time she was trying to think of a word in English or say a word she didn’t know. Even though I would have understood even if she said the word in Spanish, she turned to him and asked “how do you say… in English?” In those brief moments when she felt lost and didn’t know the answer, her very first instinct was to look to her husband. Sure, she could get the word from anyone, but naturally, without thinking, she turned to him.
This instinct amazes me. Without thinking, we know who we trust the most. And it really is a relationship being built over time that brings you to lean on each other for more than just the basic needs of life. I hope my marriage is learning some of these same lessons.
But more than anything, I hope my relationship with God is building the same way. We often say that we know we should ask God for help even for the little things, but don’t think to do it. I think a lot of this is built on relationship, not even our typical “oh, He came through for me this time, I guess I’ll ask again” or “I know I should ask Him first, so I really just have to remember.” Maybe, just by talking to Him daily, sharing our hopes and fears, we’ll get to the point that without even realizing it, we lean over and ask “hey, how do I say this?”
There are many moments in our life where we feel like giving up. Some times are simple, like a game you’re never going to win even if you keep trying. It can get a bit more serious, like a friendship with someone who is selfish and never takes you into consideration. There are also the big moments, like quitting a job, deciding to file for divorce, moving away, etc. And some people even get to the point that they want to give up on life. For the record, I never encourage this one. Never give up on life.
I have a hard time giving up. I will often stay waiting for hours for someone because I’m afraid that as soon as I walk away, the person will arrive. I hate that thought of missing something amazing because I walked away a minute too soon. I’m not sure where that particular fear comes from but I’ve lived with it for a long time.
I think this way on so many topics. What if I walked away from this person, and they were just about to change? Or what if I give up on this project right before the committee decides to adopt it. I guess that’s me living in the land of “what if” and letting it control my life again. This is a dangerous way to live. I keeps too many of us in bad situations because of how they may some day change. Don’t give up too soon, sure, perseverance is incredible important. But perseverance for the sake of perseverance may not get you where you want to be.
There are moments to give up on some things. I have always grown up holding tight to my memories, because somehow I thought that a moment wasn’t worth living if you weren’t going to remember it anyway. But in the last few years I’ve learned the value of giving up negative memories. Yes, negative moments may have helped shaped you into the person you are, and maybe you should never forget the lessons that you learned as a result, but you don’t need to hold on to memories that hurt you. Give it up. Some habits or traditions are in your life for no good reason. If they’re not there for a good reason, they probably shouldn’t be there. Give it up. Some things if your life might be doing damage.
Maybe, just maybe, learning to give up the small things to make a better life for yourself and those around you will give you the courage to give up the big things that are holding you down.
So today during lunch I ran across an interesting article about 13 Things Your Desk Says About You. While the concept of personal marketing isn’t necessarily new to me, the thought of my desk playing a part of that certainly is. Of course I glanced hesitantly over my workspace realizing how much dust had accumulated in the corners. I’m not necessarily a talented decorator.
I’m sure this lesson extend to many aspects of life. But maybe that’ll be a lesson for another day.
Today was a tough day. With the holiday season and coworkers on vacation, there have a been a few extra responsibilities to look out for, but I can handle that. Today I spent most of my day immersed in the news articles about the Mandera Massacre in Kenya. It’s gruesome, so I’ll spare you the details (read them online if you want to). The whole story shook me to be honest. But one small little detail snuck almost unnoticed. The Adventist Church that meets in that town, approximately 15-20 people on a regular basis, had 4 armed guards the morning they were meeting, BEFORE news arrived of an attack. So meeting with at church for them comes with armed policemen outside to help keep them alive.
Day 12: We often see how our life isn’t fair; some people in the world have worse than we can imagine. I’ve lived in unsafe places before, and know the reality of not living in the sheltered environment. But I have never lived somewhere that I needed an armed guard to meet somewhere with people who believe the same thing I do.
My heart breaks for the lives that were lost, the families that were broken, the community that was changed forever. Those who remain face more than most of us will ever have to. Life’s not fair. But for just a moment I realize how much worse it could be. May we never forget.