May you be blessed in the city, and blessed in the country! (Deuteronomy 28:3)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Adjusting to Change — Lots of It!

Have you ever found yourself out of your comfort zone? Or perhaps you were in that zone, but just the thought of an inch outside of it made you cringe, get all clammy and migraine-prone?

I get you.

So here were the initial and major changes I had to contend with:
1. From single life to married life
2. From city life to provincial life
3. From working in an office to working at home
4. From being with family and friends all throughout the week to having no family and friends (except my loving and patient husband, of course)

I had two choices:
1. Resist the changes, remain in rigidity…and be miserable; in one word, MISERY; or
2. Accept the changes, adjust accordingly…and be happy; in one word, HAPPINESS

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Anyone in her right mind would choose happiness. Guess what? I found misery quite quickly. OK, so I wasn’t in my right mind then. I was in my left (sorry, couldn’t resist!).

This reminds me of a Bible passage in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NRSV) that says, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” No-brainer. But for some weird reason, we humans tend to choose the harder route…learning the hard way in the process. At least we learn.

For the record, I was glad to be married. That was a change I readily welcomed. For the rest, I struggled.

I resisted, I accepted, I resisted, I accepted, I resisted, I accepted, I resisted…I.GOT.TIRED. I learned. I accepted, I adjusted, I became happy. Whew!

A guy named Jimmy Dean said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” But Jesus, my Savior, said it best: “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8, NRSV).

I wanted to follow the wind of the Spirit. So I had to make choices deliberately. It took time. I had to learn to adjust every day. Every moment even. And each step of acceptance and adjustment brought me deeper into a place called peace.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

City Girl Meets Provincial Life (Part 2)

Is this really happening? I asked myself as I woke up to a new day, looking out from the bus window, arriving at a place that, years later, I would also call home. But not just yet. Not now. I felt like a stranger. On hindsight, it was not so much the place or the people that were unwelcoming; it was me, unwelcoming of the changes. OK, so I probably was remiss on some research regarding the place, so I was caught off guard. Culture shock.

In the city I was used to tall buildings everywhere, malls on every other block (OK, I’m exaggerating…), restaurant choices from A to Z. Now here I was, hundreds of kilometers away from what I used to know…and there was no mall. Nada. No mall?! Where in the world am I going to spend my weekends? Restaurant choices were limited. And Starbucks? What Starbucks? NO Starbucks. NO STARBUCKS?! (There wasn’t even a coffee place to speak of.) The city withdrawal symptoms were creeping in.

Poor City Girl — how foolish of her to expect the same things from the countryside that she expected from the city. Didn’t she realize that, apart from their spelling, the two words of “city” and “country” had other differences? (Oh, really? Duh.) And didn’t she realize that God ordained that there would be beauty in both? (Um, no. Not yet, at least.)

My eyes were veiled then. I only “saw” what was unseen, what was not there. I failed to appreciate that the absence of a concrete jungle meant I had the vast canvas of God’s sky to look at. That the absence of a mall meant I could just chill outdoors (and save money). That the limited restaurant choices meant I could enjoy my husband’s exquisite cooking (and save money). And that no Starbucks meant…well, no Starbucks (but yes, saving money).

So City Girl meets provincial life for real. But she’d have to decide for herself how to cooperate with it to make it work. Thankfully, God’s patience and mercy were in generous store.

Questions: Did you ever have to deal with a sudden change in your life? How’d that turn out? Feel free to post your experience. J

Saturday, October 20, 2012

City Girl Meets Provincial Life (Part 1)

I was born and raised in the city. And though my parents’ roots were in the province, they spent a good number of their younger years in the city as well. There were no grandparents to visit in the province, as the then surviving ones also lived in the city. I had gone to a few provinces in the past, mostly for vacation (like beaches), or ministry and missions purposes. But staying in a province for a prolonged period? Never. So when the prospect of having to live in a faraway province surfaced, I was not thrilled at all. My whole life, my whole history seemed to be hinged on city life. My family, my friends, my work and ministry — all these were conveniently located in the city.

But I had no way out of it. It was part of my life’s syllabus, much like Photography 101 was part of my college course syllabus (for some reason, I dreaded Photography 101; but being enrolled in Communication Arts, I had to take it. Go figure.)

So I couldn’t escape this prospect, for the very reason that I’d be marrying someone who had just recently relocated there for work. Either I marry the guy and begin a life with him, or marry him and still live a separate life. So I married the guy and we agreed to visit the city every so often.

A feeling of uncertainty and slight sadness came upon me as I said goodbye to my family. Then again, I would be seeing them in two weeks for four days. But for someone who was never away for long periods of time, this could very well be a month or longer! So off I went with my husband of three weeks…to a place unknown…to a people unfamiliar…to a language undecipherable…. (Not once did I go there prior to getting married; not even to check out our future apartment!)

We rode this super deluxe bus. I had never ridden in a bus for that long — nine hours! It was a night trip, and good thing I was able to sleep during the ride. Arrival at our destination was quite surreal. Is this really happening? It was reality all right. And what a reality it was.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Living Differently by God's Design

Hello, everyone! This is my first ever blog post. The inspiration to write a blog has been in my mind and heart for quite a while now, and I believe it's the Holy Spirit who has been nudging me to do this. I've been learning so many lessons ever since I began living in two places nearly seven years ago, and I can't keep silent about how the Lord has been so good to me.

Now about the title of this post.

"Living differently by God's design." I think these five words kinda sum up how my life has become. God has ordered my life in a way I've never imagined and never has become my "new normal"...oh has already become my normal.

So how is my life different?
1. I live in two places — the city and the country
2. I live a commuter lifestyle, having to ride planes often (buses before I had a child)
3. I distance-manage the office (based in the city) when I'm in the countryside
4. I homeschool our five-year-old when I'm in the countryside
5. My son and I are away from my husband for several days a week when I'm in the city
And more...

OK, maybe that doesn't sound so different. Or maybe it does. Whatever the case, this is how God has allowed my life to be designed at the moment, and I'm happy to be discovering the bigger picture. A passage from the Bible comes to mind: "Indeed, everything is ordered to your benefit..." (2 Corinthians 4:15, NAB unrevised). Amen: Everything that I've experienced and that has happened in my life thus far has been for my good (even if I didn't think so at particular times!).

That ends my very first blog post. Now to munch on some chocolate-covered macadamia nuts....

Till the next blog...may God bless you!