Facebook this morning resounds with pictures of the piles of snow blanketing the landscape “back home”. Along with pictures are the complaints about being sick of the cold, being sick of shoveling, when will this end…
I have no landscape blanketed with snow, no flame red cardinal decorating the trees like a Christmas ball. No coated branches, drooping with the weight of the white icing. No driveway to shovel. No icy roads to navigate. No cozy wool socks, nor warm boots.
I sit in my 12 floor hotel apartment. What I see is brown. Empty lots of sand. Half finished construction. Air filled with sand, obscures the view. Windows coated with sand, making the buildings ugly brown. Two lonely palm trees. “Forests” of buildings, tall buildings. Movement below is like an ant colony, blured with speeding cars and people.
I am homeless. Carless. Feeling at times like I live in a cage. I have to rely on others to transport me places. I have no outside space. I struggle to understand the English spoken to me because the accent of the speaker is so thick, it sounds like a foreign language. I am not near my family, people who know me, surroundings that are familiar.
It may be warm and sunny. But sometimes warm and sunny is monotonous, and lonely.
The question I have struggled with in this brown dry and parched land; Where do I find my joy? I see how I let my circumstances determine my mood, my joy. There are times when joy seems so far away. Times when I feel so alone. Times when I don’t want to do this anymore, just give me a home, a place to call my own…and on and on.
My struggle has been “Counting it all joy, when you encounter various trials.” (James 1:3) Trials, they are in all of our lives, in abundance. I used to think trials meant “big” things, major sickness, accidents… It does mean those, but also the little things, irritations like drying laundry on a rack in the living room, asking for rides to events, living with dust everywhere. I struggle to keep my head above the dust, to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. To have joy in spite of the hard things, the unfamiliar, the frustrating in my life.
Quotes I read yesterday that have brought new perspective and life: from One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voscamp.
“God holds us in the untamed moments too. Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment , a distrust in the love-beat of the Father’s heart.”
“While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving.”
Today, I am thankful for this brown desert place. Thankful for the “home” I have, that everyday, my beds is made, toilets cleaned. I am grateful for the new friends who cart me to all the events, who share in the frustrations of moving to a new place. I am finding joy in all the unfamiliar and getting used to the foreign language called English.
I am learning that; “joy comes from the place of the very presence of God. Joy is God and God is joy and joy doesn’t negate all other emotions –joy transcends all other emotions.” OTG, Ann Voscamp
May you find the very Presence of God today.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” Psalm 30:5