And selling everything has commenced. Again. Eight years ago, we emptied cupboards and drawers and closets with reckless abandon and sold everything not nailed down. This time is different. We’re excited to get back, but I feel like I’m doing everything while walking knee deep through molasses. Yeah, we’re 8 years older. The temperature is draining. But, we have a container to send back this time. So if we don’t get everything taken care of, we throw the unknowns in the container and deal with it in the United States.
But I’m anxious. And, as it is quite often with stupid anxiety, I can’t narrow it down to a cause. To-do lists are made, living arrangements back in Oregon are penciled out, we have a small savings in place until we find jobs. On paper, all the details are worked out. There are two of us this time, not four. Dan went to Manila a few weeks ago to tie up details for our business and for getting Edgar, our sweet dog, transferred to the U.S. We’re at peace about going back, so why am I not at peace about the process? I know, I know…I need to “trust God” and know that everything will work out. As it will. This past year (ok, years…) has tried my trust over and over, and I haven’t been let down.
Philippians 4:6 is one of my favorite Bible verses. I know I’m not alone, it’s one of those cute ones we teach in Sunday school from an early age. It’s so simple, but carries a huge lesson. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It’s almost too simple. “Just don’t worry, it’s all good.” is my translation. Yeah, well I confess, I’ve been worrying about everything. What if the car doesn’t sell. What if we have issues getting a flight that will take Edgar. What if we have problems with customs or extra charges when our container arrives. What if we get back and have trouble settling in. I know I’m driving myself crazy, and dragging Dan right along with me. He is working overtime trying to eliminate or fix all my “what ifs”, all while saying “You need to trust me!” as I find myself curled up in a ball with a lump in my throat, unable to deal with it all. So now I have to trust God and man? That just sounds crazy. And it’s not without trying. I have good, motivated days, then find myself fretting again the next. Just. So. Many. Emotions. Excitement, fear, guilt, more excitement, terror, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, anticipation.
The emotion I’m lacking? Gratitude. The second part of that verse. “With Thanksgiving…present your requests.” When we recite it as a memory verse, it usually starts out strong and it gets jumbled at the end. “Don’t worry about ANYTHING!! Blah blah grumble mumble…requests…goober garble…to the Lord!” Brené Brown put it simply, “There is no joy without gratitude.” As I have for a large majority of my life, I have a hard time finding joy while I focus on the “what ifs” and coming up with Plans B through Z if Plan A doesn’t pan out. It’s a problem. It’s hard to live at that intersection of trusting God, and living in fear that He won’t come through. And as I sit in fear, the Gratitude Train just blows on past, sweeping any joy along with it.
In the years we’ve been here, we’ve seen a lot of people come and go, and in some cases, go under very difficult, stressful, rushed circumstances. We’ve seen people sell off nearly everything they own just to afford plane tickets home. We’ve watched teary eyed kids say goodbye to their beloved family pets. We’ve helped families sort through all of their personal belongings in order to fit their entire lives in two suitcases each.
Gratitude. I’m grateful that we’ve had time to “finish well”. I’m grateful that our plane tickets home are already covered. I’m grateful that we are able to take our dog, in all his dorkiness, with us. I’m grateful that we are able to send an entire container of our lives, not just a few suitcases, back to the United States. I’m grateful that our business will still run on a small scale, allowing us to have some residual income. I’m grateful that we were given a severance, taking financial stress off of our shoulders in the short run. I’m grateful that in the middle of all the transition, I got to go on vacation with my best friend. And when we step off the plane in two weeks, we will have friends and family waiting with places to stay, vehicles to use, and lots of hugs to give. And finally, I’m grateful that our marriage is in a place where we can face this transition together. There have been times in the last few years where that would have been a challenge. I’m grateful for our healing, and that we were right where we needed to be for that to happen.
And for real, I’m printing that last paragraph out and keeping it close. My emotions may be all over the map, and there may be another meltdown tomorrow, but for today, I’m choosing joy. I might just need that daily reminder.