Recently things have been pretty busy. There's so much information for me to deal with in my head that I get overwhelmed easily. And when I get overwhelmed, I just need a mental break to deal with all the information. When I come back, I'm usually more clear headed.
So I ended up finding a nice short book series to read. When I was younger one of my favorite Christian authors was Janette Oke. (I have many friends who read non-fiction to relax, but I'm a big fan of fiction to help me get rid of stress.) I found a short series by her about a the wife of a Canadian Mountie and her struggles living in the wild, untamed North.
It was a nice short read, and a simple enough story for me to not get too involved, but enough to help me "rest" my mind for a bit.
And reading the book and the character's struggles gave me another reminder of how blessed I am. The main character was a fashionable young woman raised in the East, and then she suddenly went West, and then North, and each move taught her more about life and struggle and sacrifice and love.
The last book dealt with them moving to a remote Indian village who had little contact with white people. She was shunned for almost an entire year because they feared contact with her would bring the wrath of their gods. Then a wild fire destroyed the village and she was the only one with the presence of mind to organize and save the people, thus breaking her from her exile of loneliness.
When I look at my own life, I realize how bless I am.
It's so easy for me to think about my life and be negative. When I am lonely, I feel like I don't have any friends or no one understands. I see that I am single, and that must mean I am unloved, and there must be something wrong with me or someone would love me and want me. I see that I have gained weight, and I look at myself in the mirror, disgusted with what I see and my lack of control or ability to change. I hear the words that come from my mouth that criticize and put down the people around me. I complain easily about anything that inconveniences me.
How graceless of me.
It's such a display of thanklessness.
But then I check my twitter page and find encouraging comments from three of my Japanese friends, who consider me as a friend and not as a foreigner. I receive an e-mail from a dear friend, who has somehow moved from a person I respected and related to as a person in authority over me to a sister and sharer of life and hardships here, and the e-mail is an affirmation of this relationship that changed without me even knowing it. And I realize how blessed I am. She trusts me enough to share. And I am left astonished.
This person sitting here in front of her computer when she should be sleeping? This person who I look at skeptically, knowing all my faults and short-comings?
Even when I reject myself, and my own value, there are people who affirm me.
And I remember all the times...
I am accepted. I think many of my friends forget that I am a foreigner. I am respected. I have no idea why, but people listen to what I have to say. I am trusted. There are no words to express the wonder I feel when I understand that.
Wow. And I know that it all comes not from anything I've done. It's all a blessing from God.
Negative, ugly, broken me. And God provides community, acceptance and an abundance of friends for me.
Tonight I am reminded again of all I have been given. And I am so very grateful.
Tonight I share with you a little of the wonder, a portion of my worship for these treasures bestowed, and my repentance for not valuing it more.
Tonight I remember, repent and rejoice. Tomorrow I may forget. But tonight I remember.
Thank you Father. Thank you for all you have given me. People who call me friend, even when it's difficult to speak the same language together, you have given me things that surpass language until we forget we don't speak the same mother tongue. People who speak the same tongue and share the same faith, who encourage and challenge me. Students who accept me. Children who run to climb all over me. Roommates who are willing to live with me, and even place themselves in a position of trust, trusting me to communicate for them, and to "lead" a household of sorts. Even when things don't look like I want them to, I have so much. Thank you for everything. Please, keep my heart in a place that always looks for You and Your blessings. A heart that recognizes and praises You constantly. I'm so grateful for Your fingerprints on my life. I pray that my heart becomes one that overflows with thankfulness and joy instead of self-doubt and thanklessness. You are good, and You have been good to me.
Now it's time for me to go to bed with a grateful heart, praying that tomorrow morning I will still remember enough to gratefully get up and live in a way that shows my appreciation for all I have been given.
Grace really is amazing.