Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Oh, Canada

Four years and 10 months ago, Ross and I went to Banff for our honeymoon. It was a really fun vacation, but an awkward honeymoon.

Lake Louise 2008
Lots has happened since then in life and in marriage. On July 13 this year, we celebrated a different anniversary of sorts: one year since our vow renewal. This has been a hard year (will we ever stop saying that?) and this summer started with one desperate theme running through my head: rest.

The week I resigned from my job, I copied 1 Kings 8:56 onto a notecard and carried it in my pocket, reading and re-reading when panic threatened to overwhelm me.

"Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel 
just as he promised. 
Not one word has failed of all the good promises 
he gave through his servant Moses." 

All winter, I wanted to believe that I could find peace in all circumstances, and I was determined to do so even if it killed me! (Brute-forcing peace does not work for me, FYI). But through lots of tears and angry prayers and defeat, it became quite clear to me and those around me that it wasn't happening. People started encouraging me to surrender, to rest. They started reminding me that the Lord would fight for me; I needed only to be still (Exodous 14:14).

(From the Jesus Storybook Bible)
During the dark months of February and March, I would hear the opening lines of Worn come onto the radio and fight to hold back tears on my way to work: "I know I need to lift my eyes up/ But I'm too weak/ Life just won’t let up/ And I know that you can give me rest/ So I cry out with all that I have left/ Let me see redemption win/ Let me know the struggle ends/ That you can mend a heart/ That’s frail and torn." Every line of that song tugged on my heartstrings for months. I felt like it was written for me.

I expected an immediate sense of relief on June 15, my first day off of work. Instead, I was deluged with a lot of busy-ness, completing tasks I'd let sit on my to-do list for months. And I was immersed in anxiety: what next? I thought I'd resign, go on a few interviews, have a new job lined up to start after vacation, and be able to enjoy a month off. It hasn't been like that. Yet I'm not terribly surprised that even my time of rest hasn't gone according to plan: it's been good for me. At times I want to pull my hair out (literally) from the anxiety of the unknown, but at other times I'm really at peace with this. I can't make someone hire me. God knows what's next, and he knows what I need, and he's in control of it anyway.

So that's where I was before vacation. Anxious that I was so anxious. Ashamed that while I was certainly much more rested physically, I was still in turmoil inside. When we left for vacation, I had no choice but to give it to God. Even vacations usually stress me out, with agendas and getting lost, and feeling pressure to enjoy every minute.

Thanks in part to dedicated quiet time most mornings, this trip wasn't like that. Sure, there were stressful moments and a few tense arguments (usually while lost) here and there, but this was the first vacation in a long time that felt like vacation. To-dos and what-nexts weren't running through my head constantly. I was living in the moment, soaking it all in. This was the first vacation I can remember where I wasn't relieved to come home, and that's saying something! I could've stayed there forever. (Well, maybe just until winter started.) Canada wasn't the beach vacation in Greece that I wanted, but it was exactly what I needed. The clear air cleared my head (and my nagging cough). The physical activity invigorated me instead of wearing me out. And, thank God, the rest finally came.

Whistler Mountain 2013
I still have lots more to say about our trip, and lots of pictures to share since this blog is my scrapbook of sorts. However, those will have to wait since I'm nearing the end of a bizarre 48-hour turnaround from the luxurious clear air and active rest in Canada, to a hot, exhausting, medical mission trip in Haiti. I leave tonight and get back next week.

I'm struggling with this dichotomy in a very selfish way: why couldn't I have gone to Haiti first, and then rested in Canada? Probably for the same reason I don't have a job: God has something in mind that I don't know about yet. That being said, thanks for letting me share a bit before preparing my mind and heart for a different sort of adventure!

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