It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. I LOVE Ireland for the most part, and I have written about the trust I have that God will set me in an awesome place here. I still believe that, but as of now, that awesome place is still crashing with friends and living out of a suitcase.
As much as I would like to say that I have been unwavering in my trust that God is still carrying me where I need to go, I have begun looking through rent and house share listings rather frantically in the last week or so. I began once again to try to do things on my own.
One of my efforts has been to repeatedly figure out how many Euros I have here with me based on the exchange rate. The next step is then to figure out about how many months I think that will last based on a certain estimate of rent, this step is repeated again with each listing I see that I think I may be able to afford. The following task is to guess how much money will have accumulated in my bank account to be pulled out when what I have here is gone, etc.
I find this repeated exercise in mathematics exhausting, yet I have felt compelled to redo it every day or two. I’ve not spent a lot since arriving in Ireland, but I have been stressed about money because of not knowing how much housing will cost – not to mention traveling to see more of this gorgeous island!
This stress (among other things) led to me being in a rather rough place emotionally at the start of this week. Some time with my journal on Tuesday helped, but I finally reached a turning point Wednesday night.
I have agreed to do a seminar for a youth retreat on the 14th of this month, and that night I had a meeting about the retreat. I was feeling a bit discouraged because of a disastrous look at a housing option, so I decided to leave a bit early and grab dinner in town to clear my mind before the meeting.
As I was walking the 2km into town, I felt God challenge me that I had been living in a “poverty mentality” lately. I’ve been stingy with the things He has blessed me with, trying to make every cent count for something, and missing out on the joy of being here because I was so focused on making my dollars go as far as possible.
I’ve been so stressed about finding an affordable place to live that I have seriously considered settling for far less than what I believe God has promised. I have struggled with feeling like a burden to my friends here, and needing to get out of their space. – I have lived with families before, and I have learned that it’s important for them to have their family time without a fifth wheel at times. But I have also experienced the loneliness that can come with trying to stay out of the way when I don’t know many other people yet.
In defense of my hosts, they have not given that impression at all, and have been extremely welcoming. These feelings of being a burden or being in the way are my own, and likely not at all what they are thinking or feeling.
And so, I have been struggling for the last week or more to find the balance between two contradicting feelings. On one hand is trusting God for the thing He’s promised and feeling “in the way” until He makes that place known. On the other is settling for something less than the promised place for which I feel God has asked me to believe.
After the challenge about my “poverty mentality”, I felt like God was telling me to splurge and enjoy myself at dinner. I had a limited time before the meeting, but I still treated myself to an incredible meal. It was more than I ever spend on myself for dinner, but not only was it delicious, I felt my anxiety level decreasing with each bite.
No, food is not a coping mechanism, and that’s not what this is about. It was the freedom to enjoy myself, this place, and the goodness of God without allowing the stresses to rob that pleasure that caused the decline. The food was delicious, but I’m not sure I would be so pleased by the same meal again.
As I ate the first bite of the salad, I was reminded of a verse that a friend sent to me on Tuesday morning. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:8, NIV)
The food was good, but that meal wasn’t about the taste of the food. It was about remembering and experiencing again the goodness of God.
I still don’t really know why I’m here. I still don’t know where or when I’m going to unpack my suitcases. I don’t know how much money will be in my bank account when I need it or when that need will arise.
I suddenly have Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt singing in my head… “I don’t know much, but I know I love you. And that may be all I need to know.” Change that second line to “I know He loves me”, and that is my life. It’s not always comfortable, but I definitely have the opportunity to learn and relearn other things along the way.
This week’s lesson was “Taste and See”. I don’t know what lesson will be next, but I’m sure it will show me once again that I can always trust Him to carry me through.