Friday, February 24, 2012

Uncertain Terms

I’m a planner which means typically, I don’t deal very well with uncertainty. We found out six months ago that sometime in the next year Jonathan would be switching jobs, likely involving a relocation, and possibly a global one. We didn’t know where this move would be, but we knew we’d find out at the end of February/beginning of March. We figured that by the end of January, we’d at least have a pretty solid idea of where we’d be heading.At the end of January, we eagerly planned on a domestic move to Covington, LA.

But Covington slowly evolved into Thailand and I was excited in different ways. It’s always been my dream to live abroad, and Thailand was such an enchanting and exotic prospect that I couldn’t help but feel a thrill at the thought.
But then something came up. Something so wonderful, yet so improbable, that Jonathan and I dared not discuss it. But as it became an almost certain bet, we decided to let my parents in on the secret- we might be coming to join them in Nigeria. Now I’ve mentioned that my dad and husband work for the same company, in the same department. We always ruled Nigeria out as possibility due to this conflict of interest, but secretly I dreamed about living in the same city as my parents, especially since baby fever is running rampant in my household.

When rumors spread that there was no conflict of interest and Jonathan was asked if he’d be interested a position there, we foolishly let our guards down. We briefly discussed it before saying ‘heck yes’ and started preparing for the move. A few days later, it turned out that it was a conflict of interest for Jon to work in my dad’s department, and therefore Nigeria was not in the cards for us.

I was absolutely crushed at the news and was an emotional wreck for days. After much heartache and prayer, I realized Nigeria just wasn’t the place for us right now. I prayed for God’s peace in my heart, and he delivered. I told Jonathan that I didn’t want to discuss any more options- that I would rather him just tell me once the decision was made and I would get on board with wherever that might be. So that’s why, when he came to me last Thursday night with the option to go to Scotland, my heart rejoiced.

In case you didn’t know, I love Scotland more than any other place in the world. It is my happy place. It inspires me. It’s the setting of my daydreams. I tried to be cautious but Jonathan was assured that this was the real deal if we wanted to take the job (of course we wanted to take the job!).

We started making plans to ship the dogs, rent a house, and buy a Fiat hatch back. He was instructed to call Monday morning to set up a start date, yet when he did he realized it wasn't a done deal. It's still an option, but just one of many. So we're back at square one. Back at uncertainty. Back at praying for God’s peace and guidance.

Part of the relief I felt when I thought it was Scotland, was simply knowing where we were headed. Being able to start planning. Being able to move forward. The worst part about this experience has been feeling in limbo. We’re living in Houston with one foot out the door. We felt a natural tendency over the past few months to stop investing in friendships, church, our jobs. We’ve started pulling back and preparing to leave. We’ve been waiting for months and yet this final week has felt the most excruciating.

Each day brings new hints of where our lives might be headed, and then the next day everything changes. It’s exhausting and pointless to try to pin anything down. We’ll know soon enough.

More than anything, this situation is teaching me to trust God fully. When I heard the news about Aberdeen not working out, I teared up, but was nowhere near as devastated as I was when the Nigeria option was shut down. Almost instantly I felt God’s peace come into my heart and say ‘It’s okay. I have big plans for you’. My mantra lately has been ‘God has a plan. God has a plan. God has a plan.’ I repeat it over and over anytime I feel anxious about the coming months and it’s very effective (without the coma inducing side effects of Xanax).

And I know that God’s plan isn’t about what’s easiest and most comfortable for me, although it’s tempting to pray for that. I have to fight my heart when it wants to call out “Dear Jesus, please don’t send me to China. China really freaks me out. Please, could you just send me to Louisiana instead?”. Instead, I force myself to pray, “Dear Lord, please teach me to trust you. Please send us where we can best serve you. Please bring peace and comfort to my heart as you guide me towards your path for me.”

Changing how I pray has changed my entire world view. Once I snapped out of my selfish pouting and started trusting God with my life, it’s opened my eyes to what a self-absorbed brat I’ve been lately. My obsession with this uncertain, completely out of my control move has distracted me from focusing on my family which are frying way bigger fish right now.

Handing over my problems to God has allowed me to spend my energy praying for my grandmother who is having surgery to remove a tumor this weekend; for my sweet Dad who is having the worst month ever; for my fearless sister who just moved cross country with two small children for the second time in 6 months.

It’s like that saying: “if everyone put their problems into a pile, you’d ask for yours back”. I am so fortunate to have my problems. Like most things, it’s all a matter of perspective. I am small. My life is just one life. My problems are actually blessings. Thank you Lord, for this adventurous life. Please allow me to use it as a means to serve you. Amen.

In other, more light hearted news: We are on day 3 of our commitment to reduce our TV watching. It is amazing how much I can get done after work when I don’t plop down in front of the television right away. Last night we walked the dogs, cooked a new recipe for Greek Pastitsio Casserole (hint: use rotel for ‘diced’ tomatoes), and gave Samson a bath. (Samson's post-bath rawhide reward)
The mornings have been the hardest adjustment since I usually watch TV while I do the elliptical machine and watch Good Morning America while I get ready. As a substitute, I’ve been listening to podcast sermons from my church during exercise/getting ready time. This is doubly wonderful because we’ve been out of town so much lately that we’ve been missing a lot of Sundays. This gives me a way to catch up and start my day with a dose of Jesus, which is ultimately the point of this no TV thing in the first place.

It is still hard to break the habit and I caught my hand instinctively reaching for the remote this morning. Elipticalling without Downton Abbey was particularly difficult. It’s always hard to cultivate new habits, but hopefully by Easter I won’t be so dependent on TV.

Since we are still watching one show per night, I was able to keep up with the Top 24 on American Idol. I’m calling it right now that Philip Phillips is going to win the whole thing. He’s got the trifecta of talent needed to take the crown: Cute, White boy, with guitar. Or as the cool kids refer to it WBWG (Are you still a “cool kid” when you spend your free time on American Idol forums? If not, I’m screwed.).

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