For much of 2007, I was living and working alone in a remote area of Thailand, many hours from the bigger cities Although I do have a partner, I still ended up spending most of the year alone due to our responsibilities and her home assignment. During that time a friend of mine suggested that I keep a journal of my thoughts and experiences; these are a few excerpts from that time period.
This evening I started to think while I was playing the piano. I am not sure why, but I thought of global workers who find it hard to let their own children become global workers. I also wondered what people who knew about living cross-culturally in places like Asia and Africa think about letting their daughters go alone. I do not think it is easy for them. …And then I wondered why God, who can have His ‘druthers,’ calls any of us to go, even alone, and I started to cry. Although I know that the struggles all have a purpose in our lives, it is often hard to see those purposes, and it is even harder to process alone. So, if our fathers let us go because they trust our heavenly Father, then our heavenly Father must call us to go because He knows that He is sufficient for our every need. Still, I wonder what He is doing, and if there could be an easier way.
Happy Thanksgiving! There’s the trick—celebrating or not celebrating holidays alone. Thanksgiving is a day you still have to acknowledge to others, but it is really hard to celebrate yourself. Not that you cannot give thanks, but we all know there is something special about the feast with friends and family. The sad part is, everyone is so busy feasting and relaxing with each other that my email inbox has been pretty empty the past few days, with not much hope for tomorrow either, thanks to the time difference. Happy Thanksgiving…
Today was a good day, which came as a complete surprise to me. It was my first day to work from home instead of at the office, and I was afraid it would be very long. Instead, I had a beautiful view of the fields behind my house. The sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze in the morning. It was a glorious day, really. There is absolutely no view from my office desk. I am sure the farmers were very pleased with the weather for harvesting.
I started the morning by helping Auntie cut down a big stalk of bananas, and that is about where today’s excitement ended. Uncle came back from a funeral an hour ago. Apparently it was for a young man who was stabbed to death because his murderer thought he was someone else. It is hard not to reel over that one! So, I am thankful to be alive, even if I do feel every hour as it passes by.
As I lay in bed last night, I was thinking about one of my exercise DVDs. As unbelievable as that sounds, that is where my brain was. And then I started to think about how being alone for most of the day, for days on end, starts to distort things. Small things become big and normal things become important, because that is all there is. If there were more balance to my day, these things would not matter so much. Downloading my email is a really big thing for me first thing in the morning. I try not to build its importance too high, because so often I am crushed when there is nothing personal there. The truth is, I cannot help but build that time up, because to have no hopes and expectations is to head toward depression. If office time included a chat with a friend, if meal times included conversation with another person, no doubt the other little things would be all but forgotten. As it is, I hope for a full inbox every morning, find myself excited over a quick phone call, and think about my exercise video as I fall asleep.
The problem with going away and spending lots of time with other people is that it starts to feel normal, and you really miss it when it is gone. This morning I could really have used a hug. Yesterday I probably had more hugs than in the last three months put together, but apparently they are like manna and do not keep until the next day. At times like this I am really aware that this is not how life is meant to be.
This morning one of the neighbors brought over a plate of sticky rice sweets along with a pomegranate from her yard. Not long after that, Auntie gave me a couple of passion fruits. Right now it is raining, just after I had heard that the rice that is still unripe could use one more good rain to help fill out the grains. Each of these reflects grace for today.
I have been hanging out with the Sullivan family and have been a part of a whole different world. A world where you wait for everyone to come to the table before eating. A world where people take turns doing dishes and helping prepare meals. A world where many people want to know about your day. This strange, yet hauntingly familiar world is known to most simply as ‘family.’ And when I am with a family, it is such a blessing to be included! Unfortunately, it makes my own life seem even more empty and somewhat wrong. So thank you, Lord, for these visits and the chance to share in lives.