I always find it disorienting and stressful to come back home after a few weeks in the states, and last week was no exception.
It wasn’t just traveling across five time zones or no longer being able to chat in English with the store clerks.It wasn’t just seeing the brown landscape that is going to hang around for another five months or the bathroom scale that told me, yet again, I had returned with a few extra pounds.
It wasn’t just being back in an underdeveloped country where cars share the city streets with donkey carts, or discovering I was completely out of practice dealing with drivers who so blatantly disregard the traffic laws that they make the ones in Boston look good.**
It was also the simple fact that I wasn’t on vacation any more. I came back to the house which, in the absence of enchanted organizational elves, looked pretty much how I left it, including rooms filled with too many books not yet read, cds not yet listened to, movies not yet watched. I’m thankful for this abundance I import from the states, but it still stresses me to see the piles after being away.
The first day back, I felt like I was drowning, cut off from land. There were so many pictures to go through, so many groceries to buy, so much to plan for. Fortunately, the next morning when I finally woke up, I went straight to spend some time with God and I found myself reading this devotion for the day:
“How can we not lose our souls when everything and everybody pulls us in the most different directions? How can we “keep it together” when we are constantly torn apart?
Jesus says: “Not a hair of your head will be lost. Your perseverance will win you your lives” (Luke 21:18-19). We can only survive our world when we trust that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. We can only keep it together when we believe that God holds us together. We can only win our lives when we remain faithful to the truth that every little part of us, yes, every hair, is completely safe in the divine embrace of our Lord. To say it differently: When we keep living a spiritual life, we have nothing to be afraid of.” [Henri Nouwen]
Obviously, that was just what I needed to hear.
Then I just ‘happened’ to check out Jason Gray**, a singer I had read about on the plane ride back, and the first song I came to was Remind Me Who I Am:
When I lose my way,
And I forget my name
Remind me who I am…
…Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You
The reminder of that truth calmed me down. But it also challenged me. I not only need to treat myself as God’s beloved; I also need to treat everyone else I see that way. I need to look past the names they call themselves, past their bad behavior and their wounded acting out.
During the last few weeks, as I’ve talked to friends and family in the states, and then caught up with friends here, I’ve been struck once more that life in this world is not easy. It’s filled with loss and struggle and pain. Everyone has their cardboard sign. Everyone needs to hear God’s gentle name for them. And I can’t be God’s voice unless I put aside my stress and take on His view of me. Then I’m able to remind my hurting friends,
Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders.
His name shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
If you want to know how bad Boston drivers are, read this list of characteristics. However I think over the years, they’ve gotten better, and actually this list is now a description of the crazy drivers here.
Jason Gray has a new album, A Way to See in the Dark and one of the more creative websites I’ve seen.