Fifty-Four. Blessed

I have my share of complaints about the world. I think we all do, and I think that’s ok.

But I also think it’s worth acknowledging problems and moving on from there instead of dwelling on negative thoughts.

Easier said than done.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

What an important reminder, but it can be a major challenge some days.

Many people know I started a new job recently. I have a lot of complaints now–about my schedule (I’m out of the house for 10 hours!), about people who can be difficult to work with, about not getting paid enough, about being tired all the time–and sometimes it might seem that I don’t like my job or that I’m not happy with where I am in life.

That’s simply not true.

It’s not the ideal job, I’ll admit. I’m not doing what I love. But there are so many wonderful things to be thankful for.

The very fact of being employed is something worth celebrating. My coworkers are lovely people who laugh and share and make my day brighter. I even have the opportunity to be creative and play with graphics for social media! (I’ll be posting my creations on a separate page.)

I complained that the cost of my bus pass went up but thank God I’m employed and can still afford it, and it has allowed me to ride previously express routes so it can sometimes be a little easier to get to work. (*It still takes a long time and I was perfectly satisfied with paying less than express pass people and only using the 95… but that sentiment didn’t fit the tone of this post.)

I complain ceaselessly about winter, and while I still can’t find anything good to focus on about this awful season (the snow stops being pretty when it’s on the ground), I can be extremely thankful that my parents are as wonderful and generous as they are. I’m so blessed by them, especially this season because I hate spending money on myself, even for things that are necessary, but they love me and want to make sure I’m dressed appropriately for the harsh weather we experience daily. My coat was old and ugly, didn’t fit my arms, the hood didn’t cover my head properly and the pocket was ripping, so my mom bought me a gorgeous new coat for an obscene price (although apparently good coats can actually cost more than $200 so maybe I should be thankful mine was less!). My winter boots are falling apart so I’ve been wearing fall boots and while I can layer socks to keep my feet warm, I can’t keep them from getting soaked. So my dad took me to buy new winter boots, again pricey, but now I’m comfortable, warm, dry and I can be thankful for all of that.

Constantly reminding ourselves of all the bad things we experience might feel therapeutic in the moment, we might feel a righteous anger and therefore justified in our complaints – and likely, they are completely valid issues that should be addressed – but I’d like to challenge myself to spend more time and energy being thankful for the good things.

Complaining usually won’t solve the problem anyway (although sometimes if you talk to the right person, they might be able to change something for you), but it will bring your mood down and it can rob you of joy.

At least it has for me before.

Listen, winter is terrible, but it does end eventually. And perhaps all it’s good for is helping us appreciate the other seasons more. But can you imagine spending 6 months making yourself miserable by thinking only about how awful this season is? Is that going to make it any less disgusting? Is that going to speed up time so it passes more quickly? (*Winter is officially only three months long according to the calendar, but it definitely lasts longer in practice… but not always 6 months… sometimes it’s even more!)

I’m thankful we have the freedom to complain, but I’m even more thankful for the endless blessings I experience daily and for the opportunities God gives us to rejoice and praise Him.

Be blessed and know you are loved.

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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!