It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything like this. This has sat in my drafts in various forms for a long time. I haven’t mainly because there were many issues in my life where I’ve needed to heal from. I’ve needed time and space to write something personal. What I have written has come indirectly from dark times and good times. I’ve written what God has put on my heart. I feel like I now have the freedom to go deeper and more specifically about my struggles.
This past year and a half has been really difficult one for me. I was working at a retail store in Georgia. I was barely making ends meet and constantly searching for a better job. I was feeling all the pressure to “be more successful” and be a provider for a new family that was about to start. The problem was, no matter how many hundreds of places I applied they went nowhere. They had promised me a promotion, but it didn’t come to fruition. I had a college degree but couldn’t find any positions where I could use my degree. It was incredibly frustrating and made me feel like I wasted money on something that wasn’t going to earn its keep back. I felt as if I’d be doomed to the world of retail, a place I had become increasingly frustrated with its politics. There were few managers who cared. On top of the this, there was a rash of firing people. Lots of good employees were terminated or left. Fear emanated through our workplace. We didn’t know who would be next. Thankfully, things eventually stabilized but I knew this company would never be one I could see myself growing in. At the time, it had the hallmark of many typical American businesses, which is all about the money and your employees are simply tools. Being in that position was very stressful on top of what was going on in my life at that point.
This leads me to telling you earlier this year I was engaged to someone. I’d rather not go into details in public to protect her, but I do not mind explaining more in private. In May of last year, our relationship ended. It was a relationship where I did everything in my control to do things right, and still ended up making mistakes. I ended up hurting her beyond words. I left myself a wreck. Those are hard lessons to learn when you have the best of intentions.
Right after this a great opportunity presented itself. I had the chance to move to Calgary, Alberta and work as an assistant surveyor. After much prayer and deliberation I took the job. It was a rather difficult decision, because not only had I just begun to transition out of a serious relationship, I was moving away from my support while I dealt with that. I knew with all of its green (and eventually snow) I was moving to a desert time. I knew I was going to live alone among the sand dunes of memory and grief. In the end, I was right. That summer once I moved up there was a very dark time for me. I went through depression and I had to live alone every night the memories of what had happened this past year. If anyone knows me I am one who empathizes. I am really in tune with peoples’ emotions when they are in pain. This was especially true of her. I had known her very well, and even though we didn’t talk I knew what she was thinking and feeling. I took those emotions on as my own and was drowning in the guilt and pain.
On top of this, the reality of the nature of my job was overwhelming. Work itself was great, but the pain of isolation was at times almost unbearable. My work required me to be away for weeks at a time, on top of having moved away from my relationships in the US. I didn’t know how hard it would be in practicality to only have myself to spend time with the majority of my days. Every night, it was always me left alone to my thoughts and reliving the nightmare that had happened during the year. I had no one to spend an evening to talk with and simply hang out.
It took me a long time to pray through and gain a correct perspective over the situation. I had to learn to own the emotions and forgive. I had to make intentional choices about how I thought and lived my life. I could drown in isolation and my floods of emotions or I could choose a life raft. I had thought about simply giving up and living like everyone else around me. The carnal life didn’t sound so bad, it numbed many peoples’ pain. No one would know I was any different, and I was away from anyone who would. I could have put on a mask and did whatever I wanted. However, every time I thought about going through with this I kept coming back to one thing. That thing was where my identity was. It wasn’t about others’ perceived identity of me, but what I perceived my identity to be. I was struggling in my faith at this point, but I knew still at the end of the day I was a follower of Christ. After all my mistakes and loneliness, this is still who I was. Realizing my identity and its implications marked a turning point in my processing of my whole situation.
I still thought there was a lot of vanity in my interactions with people. I would get to know people, or spend time with them and have to leave. My time was always short lived. If anyone knows me, quality time is one of my love languages. I haven’t been able to fully express myself in a long time because of that. At the time, it was incredibly frustrating and fed into my depression. I couldn’t stay around those I loved. Jesus did something here too. He taught me value in the moment, instead of what I’m missing or can’t do. He also brought wonderful friends and family into my life though my traveling. I’ve had an incredible chance to get to know my cousins and the rest of the family. A group of friends accepted my crazy life and brought me in.
As time has gone on, I’ve also adjusted to the pace of life at work. I still don’t like being away all the time. Even so, God has blessed me with good friends from work. I’ve embraced the loneliness. I still fidget under it, but I also know I can grow and learn while I’m longing to be with people. Being lonely doesn’t have to suffocate. Instead, it can invigorate. My best nights are with a book and coffee. I’ve been able to intentionally seek Jesus when I could turn to so many things to distract and fill the void (shows and games). It has been a long process, but a good one.
God taught me it was good in the end and a lot like the missionary life. I can’t always be where I want to be. It has been my struggle since I was a Third Culture Kid and it will be throughout my life. I will likely leave friends in another place. My heart will always be left wherever I go, and its strings will tug at me to go back. It’s a reminder I’m not of this world, and of the much greater one to come. All I love will be in one place, with Jesus. Nothing can get better than that. My heart will finally be in one place, at peace with joy. Until then, I’ll keep giving pieces out for them to return later. My life’s goal is to give until there’s nothing left. Christ can fill the rest.
I’m blessed. I came into a desert to find an oasis. An oasis of friends and family who stuck with me through my shortcomings. My dad would constantly keep tabs on me, tell me he was praying for me, and ask how I was doing. My mom checked I’m on me and gave advice when she could. So did my brothers. I’m thankful for my family. I have friends who are doing similar things, and followed me through my hectic life. I couldn’t ask for more love. It dumbfounded me, and taught me a deeper truth.
The oasis is Jesus. He has sustained me and has been super patient with me. I’ve made mistakes and wanted to do my own thing. He stuck with me. His love is loyal. I found a place to drink in wisdom and experience. I rested in peace in the shade of a God who let me sweat my mistakes out. The coolness of trust passed my parched lips. In a desert void, I found teeming life.