It is the small hours of the morning and I am alone. Outside the closed blinds it is raining, an instant balm to my soul. I remember when I was in Jerusalem for the wedding of my best friend from high school. It rained between the ceremony and the reception and there, in the desert, it was considered a blessing. I have never forgotten that – indeed that concept has wormed itself into the very bedrock of my thoughts and values. Even here, in the land of lush greenery, rain is a blessing. And tonight it is blessing me.
We have been here two weeks today. A new city, a new job, a new home. It is not what I expected. Visions of gliding smoothly into a new and wonderful life are blown away like dandelion seeds before the breath of God. I am left with the reality. The start of my new job has been postponed by 3 weeks due to unexplained “business reasons”. That is a blessing and a curse, since it leaves us without the income from those 3 weeks, but also gives us a lot more time to unpack, and time to settle in as a family before I have to start my job. With the stress of moving, and the exhaustion that has followed we are all short on patience, and just generally short with each other; quick to anger, quick to take offense when none was intended. During the day, and in general, my daughter seems to be doing well adjusting to the move. Twice now, though, we have heard her crying in the middle of the night - not her normal cry but more of a moan or a whimper - and gone into her room to find her looking out the window at unfamiliar surroundings, lost and confused and scared. It breaks my heart! I can only hold her and tell her that I understand and that no matter what Mommy and Daddy will be there for her. She eventually goes back to sleep and I am left alone to cry in her stead.
I, who have traveled around the world, and who just moved a mere and relatively paltry 500 miles away, realized the other day that I am experiencing culture shock and for some reason it is not going well. I can adapt with ease to Kenyan or Israeli or Chinese culture, quickly insinuating myself so that (were it not for the fact that I’m 6’4” tall and so very obviously Caucasian) I practically blend unnoticeably in. But then you expect those places to be very different, you are looking for the differences, aware, alert, on your toes. I don’t think I expected that here. After all it’s only one day’s drive, part of the same country, even part of the same general region of the country. And yet it’s very, very different here.
So, it has been hard, and not at all what I expected, but that is not all. We went apple picking the other day. My wife and I have wanted to do that for 5 years now, and somehow something always got in the way. Here, within 2 weeks in a new place, less than 5 miles from our new home that desire finally came to fruition. It’s a small thing, but there is a true sense of hope, of possibility and potentiality, of starting over. My family loves to swim. At our old house we had a ten foot round inflatable pool, which was nice but a big hassle. Here we have a fairly large indoor pool – and hot tub! Almost daily swims have helped keep us sane. And there is that pervading sense, no matter what else happens, that God brought us here and that he has something great in store for us.
It has not been what I expected, but I am reminded that life almost never conforms to the fantasy. It is often difficult, but always worth it. Challenge and difficulty, even suffering, are often the soil out of which amazing things grow. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for us here. But for right now, it is enough that he is blessing me with rain.