An About Face

IMG_1315A year ago I lived in San Diego, CA. I worked at Plant With Purpose. I never imagined I would actually leave both and move to another country. I never imagined I would actually live my dream and I never imagined my dream would be this hard.

I never imagined it would be so difficult to a build a new life, a new community. It’s not that there isn’t life or community here; it’s just not the same. It’s just budding and new and full of awkward Spanish conversations.

But He promised I will find life here. In the Spanish syllables and the volcano views. In the distance from the ones I love, the ones who make me belly laugh and draw tears from my eyes. In my attic room adorned with the love notes of dearest friends. In a room laced with truths and guarded with prayers, dreams. In a home opened to me in the gaudy gift of hospitality. I will find life.

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Am I looking?

Yes and no.

Sometimes all I can see is loneliness. What I’ve given up. My vision blurred with the pain of what I cannot see. A heart hungry for meaning and purpose and connection and engagement. A spirit fearing failure. Dwelling on my own part in this dissatisfaction of the dream.

But what if loneliness is the point? Not that I shouldn’t seek friends or work or community, but that I shouldn’t run away from who I am, alone. That my loneliness is actually an invitation to trust. To be with the One who is Himself a community of three. A chance to look into who I am without the trappings of titles or the affirmation of deep, time-tested friendships.

Why is it so hard to sit alone? To not immediately turn on Netflix and invest my emotions in someone else’s life? I’m an introvert for goodness sake. I should be okay with alone time.

But I find myself wrestling out of it. Willing myself to feel happy and filled without doing the hard work of finding out what it is that fills me. What it is, or Who it is, that wants to fill me.

In The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris quotes a monastic sister, “That’s a big part of adjusting to life in a monastic community, to sit and face your loneliness, your emptiness, and not let distractions turn you from the task.”

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I’ve moved to a foreign country, not vowed to lifelong celibacy, but I think the adjustment to any new life comes with loneliness and questions and chances to get it wrong and right.

It’s a strange resolution, I admit, but I think my first step in finding life here will be to sit and face my loneliness, my emptiness, and not let distractions turn me from the task. To not see a night alone as a failure, but as an opportunity to sit and pray. To not view a delayed email as proof that I am not worthy of pursuit, but instead as a reminder that, of course, I am not worthy of pursuit, but I am pursued anyway, by a Love worth receiving.

So I will sit. I will not sulk. And I will sign off Netflix. And I will seek life in Guatemala.

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2 thoughts on “An About Face

  1. nthism says:

    This post made me think of the words I heard/read earlier today, the words of Jodie Foster. The closing words of her speech, actually:

    “This feels like the end of one era and the beginning of something else,” she said. “Maybe it won’t be as sparkly, maybe it won’t open on 3,000 screens, maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle. But it will be my writing on the wall. ‘Jodie Foster was here.’ I still am. And I want to be seen, to be understood deeply, and to be not so very lonely.”

    Loneliness and new beginnings sometimes go hand in hand. But as you said, you must seek life. And if you seek it, I believe you will find it. 🙂

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