Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What do you do when God doesn't rescue the way you want Him to?

When you live in a foreign country, you are at the mercy of a lot of things outside of your control.

And you are very aware of how life is not fair.

I'm sure I've mentioned before my less than ideal former company. One of my roommates was also employed by the same company. I say was because she's going to give her notice tomorrow and quit. Because the company lied to immigration, to her, and probably did a whole lot of other illegal things, thus leading to her visa not being renewed. She could fight it, but it would involve continuing to do less than legal things.

Sometimes life really sucks.

In less than a month I will be deprived of a roommate, thanks to a dishonest company. I feel... cheated, betrayed... empty... defeated.

And attacked.

After being hit with a blow that is going to change my living conditions drastically, the Enemy attacks, whispering, insinuating.

sssoooo.... (Imagine a slithering voice here, for dramatic purposes only.) Where is God now? Why didn't he rescue your friend? Why is He allowing yet another person to be taken down in this country? Doesn't He love you? Why didn't He answer your prayers? HE'S HOLDING OUT ON YOU.

I'm not good a arguing the point. In fact, I generally loose any argument that requires persuasion. I could never make a living as a salesman. So, I know better than to try to argue back against the voices. I can't quote scriptures to save my life.

But I can turn my back. Refuse to let the voices take me down more. Even if I don't know why, I know God does. God loves us. God has a plan for us. And God rescues us. Even if it's not the way we had planned out.

My ideas of what would be good did not pan out. But God remains God. He remains in control. I must believe this, or I have nothing.

My community I had wanted is going to be gone soon. I will be left with one roommate and an uncertain future. The results I feared have come to pass.

But my roommate is determined to not go back to America defeated. She will go back with her head high, clinging to her God.

So I must also not be defeated here. I pray that we may praise and honor God through this, to the very final moments of our community.

God did not answer the way we wanted Him to.

So what.

Life is not fair.

Yeah. So what.

It could be much worse.

I may not have the hope part of things down yet, but I am thankful for the rock that supports me with truth and faith when I don't have the answers.

And I'm thankful for a God who is compassionate when I cry when I loose things dear to me.

Maybe someday I'll see and understand His grace in this situation.

But even if I don't.

I'll stand on this rock.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Another lesson learned from Children.

I love children. I feel most myself when I'm taking care of children or playing with animals. The ideal would be doing both at the same time. :-D

I like watching children, and learning more about God through them.

Kids can be fun, but they can be difficult too.

I have a difficult student.

We've been having problems with this student for a while, trying different tactics etc to promote a good environment in our classroom. Sometimes nothing you do works.

And then there is an explosion.

The kid was acting out. Usually this is done verbally. Last week it was done physically. The first victim was the classroom table, scratched up by a metal pencil extender. I calmly took away the pencil extender and gave a short lecture on the importance of valuing other people's property and mentioning that I would have to speak to his mother, again. I'm not sure how much of the speech got though, since it was in Japanese. But he stopped scratching up the table. Then he stopped participating in class. He was shut down for the rest of class. Then his mother comes. And suddenly he's having a fit. Knocking things over, kicking, banging. Then he hides until we've finished talking and it's time to go. I've never seen a kid put up such a fuss for leaving a classroom he doesn't like!

And I was thinking about why kids do things like that? Doesn't he know that there are consequences for his actions? If he didn't destroy things, there wouldn't be a problem. If he participated in class, we could have more fun. The rules aren't difficult to follow, so why is it so difficult?

Then God graciously reminded me of of the temper tantrums I've thrown. (recently!)

Among my friends, we sometimes say that we have been "yelling" at God. And we say this because of course God is big enough to take it. He of course wants our honest feelings right?

But this week, I've been wondering about that. The little boy, yelling at his mother, didn't accomplish anything. Even the most patient mother is going to get worn down by that. Of course, God is not a human mother, bound by human limits. But when I think of how silly the boy was yelling for something that was his fault, and if he would just sit down and listen, things would be better...

I see myself.

Lately, there are a lot of things I feel like yelling at God about. I read books and do Bible studies that tell me to live from my heart, and follow what my heart's desire is because that's what God created me to do, and then I sit back and watch my heart's desire crumbling little by little, powerless to stop it. I desire to serve God and do His will, but working in a church feels like I've been put in chains, and I begin to despise it. I long for a physical community to support and be supported by, and the future is uncertain thanks to corrupt companies and visa issues. I want to be a better person and help and teach others, but I shut down at the first signs of stress. I spend more and more nights laying awake with disabling pain in my head that causes me to throw up with enough movement (turning over in bed is enough movement these days...)

I don't know what it means.

And Doubt tries to knock me over. "Is this a God who loves you? What happened to all that peace He promised you? Where's the strength? What happened to 'my burden is light?" hmmm? He's holding out on you..."

So I stop, and take a deep breath, and remember: I'm not in prison, I'm not in the Holocaust. I'm not starving or persecuted. There have been those with far more difficult lives who have praised God through it all.

Throwing a temper tantrum, yelling at God for all my problems, is not going to solve anything. It doesn't draw me closer to God. It doesn't enable me to hear Him more. It doesn't make my troubles go away. I can't manipulate God with my tantrums (yes, I've tried. Guilt tripping God doesn't work.)

(Disclaimer: I'm not saying this doesn't work for some people, the yelling at God part... I'm saying, this isn't working for me...)

I'm tired of being a petulant child. God is not to blame for my life circumstances. He is not holding out on me. Just because I don't know what is going on doesn't mean He doesn't.

So I'm going to take a few deep breaths, calm down, and maybe give myself some time out to think about it.

And be very, very, VERY thankful that God puts up with all these temper tantrums.

Maybe when I yell less, and listen more, I will find God talking to me...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

~~years ago...

Four score minus some years ago (even if I was awake enough to do math, I'm not sure what a four score is...) I was born into this world. Apparently on the day more Americans are born on than any other. (this is sad...)

I've reached the age where I don't like to think about age. When I was younger, I thought women who did that were stupid. Now I'm one of them. Sad.

Today was a rainy day, which is my least favorite kind of day. But other than that things went well. Many of my students remembered my birthday, and a surprising number of them kids. I have lots of erasers now, some stickers (love stickers) and some notepads of my favorite character. I even ended up with two calendars of the same design from two different people. I also got a English/Japanese praise CD with a song book with Chords included. Way nice. And some of my students drew pictures for me.

Here's a super cute version of me! I look much younger when drawn like this! 6th graders are awesome.

It's nice to be celebrated.

I hope this year is better than the last one!

Oh, and the great thing about living in Japan is: I live in the future. This means I can start celebrating on the 5th here, because it's the 5th, but my actual birthday isn't until the 5th in America, so I can keep celebrating an extra day! So awesome. :-D