Living life into the 5th decade has it's advantages compared to life in the 2nd, 3rd, and even the 4th decade. Even though the wrinkles and other signs of aging begin to pop up there are some signs of wisdom that pop up too.
So what are the advantages? Well, one big one for me, has been the realization of the power in small things. Living life in the expat world has also raised my awareness of this. I call this the "Awwww" Moments of Life.
What constitutes these moments? It is stuff like the simple coffee/tea times with friends. It's finding pictures that remind you of the value of a relationship. It's sitting as you wait for a ride and suddenly you become aware of how nice the breeze is and that there are birds singing. It's drinking in these quieter moments of life and the fellowship
Traffic in my city can be so chaotic. It reminds me of life for some people...crazy with things coming from every direction! (check out the Hanoi traffic video at the end of this)
It can seem that there is no other way to live in this world...driving in the fast and chaotic lane. And at the same time, I wonder, "Does it really have to be this way or have we just been conditioned to busyness in life?" Coming from the high achiever that I have been in life, this is a question that reflects a major shift of my thinking.
We all want to feel like our life counts for something. We all want to know there has been a purpose in our living on this earth. Many times people look for the big accomplishments to give them this feedback on their life. But what if your purpose and work in life is like the pituitary gland? This part of our body is the size of a pea, and yet, it is called the Master Gland. Its function as a small pea has tremendous impact on the healthy function of our bodies. What if the pituitary gland became frustrated with its position and size? What if this frustration led it to try to function as the heart? Frantically trying to be the heart, the little pituitary gland would fail in both being the heart and fulfilling it's true purpose as the pituitary gland.
I wonder if sometimes the chaos in life is brought on by us trying to achieve things we were not meant to achieve or at least not at that time? I wonder if sometimes the stress of living is brought on by our mis-directed efforts to be something or do something we are not created to do or be? I think of the story that is found in the Bible. It tells of how giving someone a drink of water when in need, is considered a good deed to be rewarded in eternity. What?!!! Just a drink of water?! Yes! A small deed of kindness is remembered and rewarded
Being in the moment with people is so valuable! Taking time to talk. Taking time to sit together, eat together, laugh together, cry together...taking time.The greatest achievement that I believe
I can make is the letter that I write on the hearts of people that have been put in my life. The greatest thing that I can build is people. What about you?
In the expat life there are plenty of opportunities to feel overwhelmed and out ranked regarding abilities. Challenges are around many corners each day as you live in a nation that is not your home nation. Challenges with language. Challenges with culture. Challenges with missing the comfortable and common ways of life. Challenges with missing family. Challenges with not being understood because of cultural differences. Just – CHALLENGES!
These challenges can wear you down. You may start the journey full of energy and vision for this new life. Then as the waves of challenges hit, the bold assurance can begin to wear down with self-doubts. “Can I really do this?” “Can I make it?”
… many questions, doubts, and fears can flood in.
I think everyone can relate to this experience. Living half way across the world is not the only time people experience these challenges. Let’s pull back the covers on these questions, doubts, and fears. Let’s be honest and find help so we can rise and say, “Yes! I can!”.
Finding that lifeline, that breath of fresh air, that renewed strength becomes vital to rise out of the waters of despair.
I think back to an ancient event that is discussed in the Bible. It talks of one leader dying and another leader taking over (The Moses and Joshua story). The new leader is being encouraged in his new position. He is told, “Be strong, Be Courageous.” The words spoken to Joshua (the new leader) come as a command and not a suggestion. I think many times we must remind ourselves that we can choose to Be Strong. We can choose to Be Courageous. And the reverse is true, we can choose to be fearful and to run away from the challenge.
I like the quote made by Franklin Roosevelt, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”(*www.goodreads.com)
As I ponder on this quote, again, I am reminded that the choice is ours. What will we focus on? The fear or the goal to be attained? What will we choose? The fear or the greater good?
In my life, reminding myself of the bigger picture is a great help. The fears, the doubts, and the questions are not as important as the assignment I am engaged in. As an expat, I may be challenged to engage in a conversation where language is a struggle. Well, my mind and emotions can begin to be captivated by questions then the uneasiness and uncertainty of the task. To stop the spiraling of my mind and emotions, I begin to reflect on the purpose of the visit. I consider the other challenges I have faced and how I overcame them. I count the cost of not making this visit. I engage my faith in God. I then look in the mirror and say, “Yes! I can do this!!”
I encourage you to choose to Be Strong and Be Courageous. In the face of challenges, choose to not quit and go home. Choose to stand and stay. Take hold of your Lifeline and rise up out of the waters of despair. Another ancient text says, “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” He rises with strength and courage saying, “Yes! I can!”.
Rise again and say YES! I CAN!
John and Cindy write about their adventures, observations, and other nuggets from living in another nation. Their residence is in SE Asia.