Tuesday, May 17, 2011

For When You Forget Why You Came Here

Every few weeks, I stop & I wonder how I got to this point.
Why do I feel like this?

Why am I exhausted… again?
What are those circles under my eyes?
How did I walk out of the house wearing
this outfit?
How long has my hair been like this & no one told me?
And how did I even get here?

The lifestyle of The Yellow Dress is actually a tight ship—
you need to schedule appointments.
[And I hate that about me.]

I work as the only American in an all-Arab [and therefore, mostly all-Arabic] setting,
8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Then I go home with someone and either tutor them or their kids in English
[after, of course, a huge, loud meal with the family].
I try to get home by 6pm or so, just to have an hour of freedom/sunlight in my life
before I go visit someone at night, go to a Bar Class [see previous post]
or try to survive the disaster that has become my room. [I don’t like messy rooms.]
Fridays are days off, reserved for… you’ve guessed it: visiting & eating,
and Sundays [yes, I rock a split-weekend] I try to do my laundry,
clean up the week’s aftermath & get ready for the next week,
limiting my visits to maybe just a breakfast or lunch.

Sometimes I sit back & am really [too] satisfied
with my efficiency & productivity.

I can get a lot of things accomplished in a week’s time,
and I can do them well.
I even have a handful of meaningful relationships
that are healthy & fun & challenging.
Sometimes, I start to read a book. For fun.
[Which I probably haven’t finished yet… whoopsies.]

Other times, I collapse on my bed & think of all the opportunities I’ve wasted,
how I’ve pursued the wrong relationships or
how I’ve just not been a good steward of my time [Facebook, Skype, BBC, living room yoga, etc.].
I feel defeated & guilty, not to mention tired.
Operating in the realms of another language, religion &
culture other than your own is in & of itself grueling. [We all know this.]
And it becomes quite arduous [I love that word] when you’re slightly modifying
your personality, wardrobe, communication styles, etc. etc. etc.,
to become this alert, overly observant student of another people.
I just want to nap.
For six days.

And so sometimes, I really wonder why I came here.

Some friends & I are going through the book of Joshua & we’re slowly coming up on one of my favorite passages… Joshua 4. By this time in the book, Father had done some really amazing things in the lives of His people: rescuing them from slavery, providing for their every need, giving them a new leader & showing them to the land He had promised to them.

As they crossed into this new territory, He told them to take out 12 large stones from the river bed & place them on the riverbank. This doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal until maybe one day you’re hiking along in the desert and you come up on a pile of stones that clearly do not belong on land. You think: What happened here? River rock is beautifully smooth from time and water rushing over it. It doesn’t carry the dusty characteristics of… land [?] rock. And in the text, Father even goes on to tell the people how they should respond to their children when they ask them,

“What do these stones mean to you?”
[Google Joshua 4. It’s moving.]

And for the days that I forget why I even came here, when the culture gets hard, or when I just want to eat a Chipotle burrito, with a lot of guacamole & hot sauce, while wearing a tank top & shorts outside, and sitting & talking with my parents, I remember that I have a few stones that I can reach out to behind me.

I remember the fantastic events, people & answered prayers that have all lead me to this place, His promises fulfilled, and I’m reminded... that I, too, have some memorial stones for my life, for my reasons in being here.

And sometimes, when you forget why you came to a desert [whatever desert it may be],
it’s nice to look over & be reminded that He is Good,
He has a purpose for you & those around you,
and that if He is Who He says He is… you can trust Him.

It’s also nice because if He’s calling for memorial stones
to be taken out & set up,
it means that He’s got something more for you.


  1. i love this. you write so beautifully. do i hear a memoir in writing.........?i would love to skype soon. i have a bit more flexibility in my evening, your morning i think that's how it works, as the hornthals are out of town. when's good for you?

  2. on spending time

    not that you asked, but just thought i'd share with you that i don't consider skype and living room yoga wasted time (or whatever phrase you used to describe those things).
    because of the out of your norm culture and all the demands, i think it's the best use of your time to skype to cultivate relationships and to do living room yoga to cultivate your breathing and be reminded of the Spirit within you. i'm sure you know this, but i just love that both the hebrew and greek words for Spirit (ruah...which is feminine; and pneuma) mean breath. So anything we do to slow down our breathing, focus on our breathing or even to catch our breath, is a spiritual act if we focus on the Spirit while doing it, which, I assume you do.
    so just wanted to encourage you in those activities, as well.
    needed the reminder of joshua 4. am off to google it now...

  3. this made me cry. thank you. i needed to hear this today.

  4. Christina: A memoir? uhh.... skype: yes, please. :)

    Loren: Thanks for this. I really love what you have to say--please don't wait for me to ask. Thank you for your reminder--it's filled with sweet truths.

    Lisa: Glad I could encourage a healthy cry--not a frustrated one. And your feelings weren't even hurt--score. ;)


  5. I just discovered your blog last month and am loving it and all the precious truths Father reminds me of as I read it. And, every time I read a new post I think, I need to meet this girl... I need to have someone to remind me to laugh at myself and all the daily cultural blunders I make! Thanks for writing.

  6. Hey sweet Leah! Welcome! It's always best to laugh, my friend. Or at least make others laugh while you're about to cry. ;) Anytime you're in the Middle East--holleratchergurl. I'd LOVE to meet you!! :)



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