We returned to life in the Middle East one week ago after a week in the (clean, orderly, efficient) U.S.. I’ve had good days and bad days since then. The bad days occur when I focus on things like the following:
-Jetlag. So hard this time for myself and the kiddos.
-Many products that used to be available here I am not able to find.
-I’m often at home with a crying baby, a toddler that literally asks “Why” 100 times a day, and two bigger kids who want to ‘help’ and need help all day long.-The car’s battery was dead and now the clock, radio and fuel gauge don’t work.
-People talk to me and I have virtually no idea what they are trying to communicate.
-The kids school is starting 3 weeks after what we were told.
-Plugging in a glue gun literally took me an hour (I know this is hard to imagine, but it’s true) and then died seconds before I was done with my project and I couldn’t finish.
-A carpenter we hired took our money, gave us no furniture and then disappeared off the face of the earth.
-I drove a significant distance to a certain store that has always carried a item I needed (wanted) only to find they no longer carry that item.
-Our internet isn’t working right.
-Our curtain rails are all wonky and it makes me crazy.
-My list of projects to make this house homier feels never-ending and even more impossible to accomplish.
-Something in the oven caught on fire and there were flames and lots of smoke.
AND THEN… I burned the rice.
I know you’ve also had those days when the little problems just pile up and then something just pushes you over the edge.
The rice. It burned, and I was sobbing. I had a terrible attitude all day and I felt like I had earned a right to my bad attitude… after all… everything was just way harder than it should have been. And then on top of it all, the rice burned. And I had actually made a nice meal to go with the rice! The nerve!
“Life here is too different, too hard” were my thoughts.“I can’t do it. Days with small children are difficult enough no matter where you live. It’s too challenging here. I’m so stressed and I’m being a terrible mother. I don’t want to be a terrible mother, so I don’t want to live here. I don’t want to add to the struggles of daily living with a young family by raising my family in the Middle East. We must be crazy…”
It was a bad day y’all , if you can’t tell.
Then I (eventually) got some sleep and then it was morning the next day, and everything was fine.
Soon after I listened to John Piper. He happened to preach on 1 Peter 4. “Dear friends… do not be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you”.
And I felt so sheepish because my trials felt fiery at the time but they obviously were (are) not. Yes they are real and yes they add up and yes I know little things matter. But none of it was anything big or very serious. It’s silly stuff that can get overwhelming at times. But God totally spoke to me through Piper… Do I expect life to be easy and comfortable?! No, I don’t, actually. I usually want it to be, but I know it’s not meant to be. Thank you for reminding me. Should I welcome trials for how they refine me (if I’d let them…)? Yes, I should.
Then, today I began a new Beth Moore Bible Study that I haphazardly purchased in the U.S. and brought with me. I like her studies in this season of life because they are so structured. I watched the introductory session and HELLO, God spoke right to me through Beth. (It’s been known to happen before).
The study is called Living Beyond Yourself. She was talking about the Spirit of God living inside those who are followers of Jesus, and how that truth means that we are able to do things that we would otherwise not be able to do. Simple yet profound, right?
Did God put His Spirit in me so that I could just do what I could have done by myself without His Spirit? No. His Spirit is in me so that I can do things that are beyond what I could have done myself.
…too hard for me…
…outside my abilities/my comfort zone…
…life overseas with small kiddos, perhaps?
If it doesn’t cost me anything, if it doesn’t feel ‘hard’, if it’s not beyond what I feel I am capable of… then is it what God has for me?
I was believing lies about my life. Lies that because my circumstances felt too challenging for me, that I must be doing something wrong. When in fact, it’s possibly a sign that I’m doing something right.
Beth broke it down:
-Do I feel like my purpose is beyond me? (Yep, a lot of the time I do)
-Do my seasonal circumstances (Setting up a new life and home for the 5th time in 12 years?, is one example) feel that they are often beyond me?
-Do my unrelenting daily demands (hello kids and laundry and meals and shopping and repeat and repeat and repeat) feel that they are beyond me?
Yes, yes and YES! It’s all pretty much beyond me.
Well, good, Suzanne. Then something must be right and I’ve been provided with many daily opportunities to call upon the God that lives within me to come and help. Teach me, lead me, guide me, use me, HELP ME!
My daily life feels too hard, so I must be doing something right. (Now if that’s not another sweet mystery there is when following Jesus, I don’t know what is!)
Thank you, God, for showing me that again today. I can’t promise that I’ll be a picture of patience and grace from this moment on, but I have a renewed perspective (at least for now) and I’m so grateful. I pray it sinks in deeply.