Seventeen. Disappointment.

You get TWO posts tonight!

I’m in a writing kind of mood and something else significant happened this week. Yesterday in fact.

I’ve written before about my exchange and I was nothing short of excited and enthusiastic. In fact, I was ecstatic, and there was nothing I was looking forward to more.

So why is this post about disappointment?

Because yesterday I got the confirmation email telling me where I’m going.

This August I will move to * drum roll* Brussels, Belgium.

I realize how silly this would sound:
“Hey, how are you?”
“I’m upset.”
“Why?”
“I’m going on exchange next year.”

“I’m going to Brussels…”

Yeah, I get it, that’s not a good reason to be upset.

But those who know me know how set I was on Lyon. While my heart is in Paris, I really got into the idea of living in Lyon and all my plans and preparations where for Lyon.

I was envisioning what my life might be like… living in France.

The email telling me I would be going to ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles) was one of the most soul-crushing emails I’ve ever had to read. I wasn’t even expecting my emotional reaction.

I brought this upon myself though. I challenged God.

When I submitted my application, Lyon was my first choice, Paris my second, and Brussels was a reluctant third because I really didn’t think I’d ever get bumped down to a third choice, but the rules said I needed one. When I handed in the papers I told God, “These are my choices, but please, take care of it, send me where I need to go according to your plan.”

So He did. “Are you sure you wanted me to send you, Rita? Did you really trust in my plan?”

So basically, I’ve been crying for two days because I’ll be telling people, “I live in Brussels,” and they’ll think of brussels sprouts (because even I think of brussels sprouts) and their noses will crinkle because no one like brussels sprouts.

It’s not a city that excites me.

But I know it’ll be a great experience and I really do see that this is God’s plan. I’ve been learning and growing a lot this year, it’s been challenging to me. And now it’s time to put what I’ve learned and experienced into practice. It’s time to listen to God, go where He’s sent me and follow what His plan is for me.

But I do want to explain why I’m upset. It’s not really enough to say, “I really wanted to go to Lyon!”

I was excited about the atmosphere and culture I’d be in. I would have been surrounded by the French, the language, the people and the community. It would have been a much more mono-cultural and I was excited for that. I love French culture (and wine) and even though Lyon is the second biggest city in France, it has a small city feel to it (or so I’ve read) and that’s what I really wanted to experience.

Sure, Brussels/Belgium has waffles and chocolate (which I’m sure I will appreciate at least once a month) but it’s a bigger city, with a much more international, multicultural kind of atmosphere and while I would have loved to visit, it’s not where I wanted to live.

But, that’s enough being disappointed and upset. If I go into this angry and negative, I won’t have a good experience, but I’m making a conscious decision to be positive right now. I know I will enjoy this experience, I know it will be amazing and because I’m trusting God, I know it’ll be right.

He has a purpose and plan for me, and it’ll be awesome!

This certainly wasn’t my plan – in fact, this was the furthest thought in my mind, Brussels was really unexpected – but it’s His and that makes it infinitely better… It’s actually perfect.

As a side note, I’m trying to comfort myself with the thought that perhaps my future husband is waiting in Brussels… Everyone said I was going to meet and marry a French guy, but maybe there’s someone better in Belgium (not necessarily a Belgian guy).

Anyway, we never know where life will take us, but the ride is so much better, so much more fulfilling and exciting when we accept the adventures God puts before us.

Also, when I came home from school today, my dad told me he’d already bought a tour in Belgium for us!

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Sixteen. Loneliness.

I’m not talking about being single in this post. (Although I guess that might be kind of part of it.)

I’m actually talking about living alone. Being physically alone.

That’s where I am now. And it sucks, so I decided to write about it. Sometimes that makes me feel better, but more than that, I want to share encouragement with anyone else who might feel something like what I’m feeling now.

I’ll preface the rest of the post by saying that I’m a people-person. I also [probably] have fear-of-abandonment issues.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love being with others, even if we’re not doing anything in particular. Just proximity with other humans who know and care that I exist is the best feeling to me.

Right now, I’m in my house entirely by myself.

Many people my age would be rejoicing, but I’m usually crying. I legitimately cannot hold back tears when I think about my parents being away.

My brother moved out of the house last January and he’s 26 now so it wasn’t as if he rebelliously wanted to leave our family or something devastating like that; it was just time for him to move out on his own.

When he left, I cried – even though I wasn’t living at home at the time and no matter what, he wasn’t leaving me alone. But thinking of him going made me sad. Now, even though I’m used to him not being in the house, I can’t wrap my head around his lifestyle. If I try to picture myself in his place, I actually just can’t. He lives in an apartment building, alone, and he doesn’t know any of his neighbors or anything like that.

I can’t imagine living that way.

Right now, my parent have gone on vacation and when I came home from church this evening, I unlocked the door to let myself in and the tears came, unbidden, before I’d closed the door behind me.

I walked into a dark and empty house. No one said “hi,” no one cared, not even my dog is home to bark and jump and wag her tail excitedly.

This isn’t the life for me.

But now that I’ve described what, to me, is one of the worst situations in life, let me tell you what is encouraging me as I write this.

God.

His presence, His spirit, His love.

As I was crying I kept telling myself to stop, to get it together. I told myself that I couldn’t do that every time I crossed the threshold.

That wasn’t helping me. I kept crying.

So I prayed instead. It was raw and desperate but it worked.

I called out loud, “God, make me feel your presence. Press in on me so that even though you aren’t physically walking beside me, I will feel and know that you are with me. God, come into this place.” I kept repeating things like that and just as I hadn’t known I was going to cry, I didn’t need to make myself stop… I just did.

All of a sudden, there is a warmth around my shoulders and I’m able to smile, laugh and even though I know there are still no people – or pets – in my house, I don’t  feel alone. It’s a very strange feeling, knowing I’m physically alone, knowing I’m never truly alone but actually feeling that truth.

It’s one thing to say you believe something, it’s entirely different to experience the undeniable truth of God’s promises. He said He would never leave me, and while I believe it before, now I’m feeling it.

That’s incredible and encouraging and all of a sudden, the next three weeks don’t seem so bad. I’ll still have times of loneliness and sadness, and I’ll cry some more too, but I can always think back to this evening and call out to God again and trust that He will answer.

He does press in on you when you ask Him to.

He does show Himself to you call for Him.

Dads are great. Moms too. Having parents who love you and want the best for you, who provide for you and care for you is an incredible gift.

It’s even better to be a cherished son or daughter of a king. I am loved by the Creator of the Universe.

And so are you.

This is the encouragement I want to extend to you, whoever you are.

God loves you.

It’s a real love.

No matter what your situation is like, no matter what kinds of relationships you have with anyone, parents, siblings, friends, extended family, significant others, whoever and whatever the nature of any of your relationships, a relationship with the one true God is so much better. He is so perfect. He provides more than enough.

Walking in that truth changes everything.

Before today, and especially earlier today as my parents rolled their suitcases out the door, tears were streaming down my face non-stop and I had no idea what kind of month I was about to have. Nothing made me feel like I’d get through the time alone.

Now I have worship music playing on YouTube, I have a comforting warmth around my shoulders – yes, it is a physical warmth and light pressure on my shoulders – and I’m smiling! I’m writing about the Creator of the Universe as my best friend and I’m joyful. In His presence, there is true peace.

Anyway, some of you might think I’m crazy, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m feeling God changing my life right now. It might even seem small and insignificant but God meets us where we need to be met. He steps in when we come to the end of ourselves. If I’d been praying earnestly for comfort earlier, maybe my month wouldn’t have seemed so horrible. But I needed to get to a place of desperation before I cried out and called to my Father.

He responded.

He loves me.

And He loves you too.

When you need Him, He’s there. So call on Him.