I wonder if I will ever be satisfied again.
My discontentment with my job is ever-increasing.
I often feel like I’m wasting time or bored with the mundane day-to-day tasks.
I find myself daydreaming about adventure… about doing crazy things like picking up and going to Africa to take care of children orphaned by Ebola… or selling everything and taking off to explore the world, trusting God to provide along the way.
I don’t know how many times I’ve attempted to come up with an excuse to move to Greece or an idea for a business that would support my husband and me while there.
“Can’t we just get a little place up on a hill and have a winery and write books?”
(Our honeymoon clearly spoiled us.)
It’s hard for me to believe, but I have been attempting to get the hang of this American life again for nearly two years since returning from Haiti!
2 years ago, I was most likely covered in dirt and mosquito bites, riding my bike and chasing the sunset through sugar cane fields as dark faces curiously watched me and my dust cloud rumble by. If I wasn’t on my bike, I was walking to wherever it was I needed to go, which usually was an adventure in and of itself, as throngs of children would follow, pulling on my clothes or asking to be held… or a simple hello would turn into hours of conversation along the dusty roadside.
2 years ago, I was rescuing babies abandoned on porches. Literally saving lives. I was doing CPR on a child or cleaning and bandaging a pinky toe hanging on by a sliver of tissue. I was transforming a dirty and forgotten space into a colorful and welcoming one where children would get stronger and learn to walk and do things for themselves.
2 years ago, I was hanging on tight during a heart-pounding ride on the back of a motorcycle, leaning into countless switchbacks through the mountains of this breathtaking Caribbean Island. I was exploring beaches, snorkeling and holding my breath to dive deep and dig up sand dollars. I was joking with locals in my best attempt at a foreign language and buying beautiful hand-carved crafts that now fill my home.
2 years ago, I was building friendships with women with whom I could barely communicate, but I knew loved me deeply and whom I deeply loved. I was teaching them to crochet and handing them the first paychecks of their lives while watching something so powerful – hope – fill their faces.
2 years ago, I was pretty physically miserable on a day-to-day basis, my back aching from a cheap mattress and not a single comfortable chair to speak of, learning the hard way an allergy to Haitian toilet paper, braving cold showers for months, and some days facing even the fact that we had no running water.
But man… I was alive.
Over two years ago, from Haiti I wrote,
“…there is something to be said for having all comforts stripped away and being plopped in the middle of discomfort and unfamiliarity… something to be said for chasing after the life that God called you to, no matter what it takes… something to be said to be said for being stripped away from those things and having to fully rely on him to truly and vulnerably feel like you are living out your purpose in Him.
It’s often in the midst of struggle that we experience God’s presence because our capacity to survive on our own has great limitations.”
(Excerpt from “A Victorious Purpose” – September 17th, 2012)
Two years ago, I was on a glorious adventure.
Today… I teach handwriting.
(And some clients are elementary kids whose parents pay $20,000 PER YEAR for them to attend school. Yeah. Pay off my student loans please?).
Today, I’m surrounded by countless comforts… including a super-cozy house filled with numerous choices for a comfortable chair, a memory foam mattress, a hot shower every night, and a refrigerator full of food (that I have frequented WAY too much since returning from a life of rice and beans). I can control the temperature in my house and don’t have to go to bed covered in bug spray. I have a great job, many faithful friends, two cute dogs, and a smokin’ hot husband… but I’m still not satisfied.
I. Am. Frustrated.
Maybe Haiti ruined me.
You know what else?
I think Jesus ruined me, too.
I’ve experienced His presence countless times and have stood speechless with snot bubbles and a tear-and-mascara-stained face after encountering Him, in total awe at the sheer weight of His glory.
He’s beautiful. He’s life.
And once you’ve experienced everything… once you see clearly the only thing that REALLY matters in this life, NOTHING else satisfies.
So… I am ruined.
My heart can’t settle for a life that looks like the rest of the world in its never-ending rat race.
I can’t fill my time and my mind and my hands with temporary things to satisfy my appetite.
It doesn’t work (and my now-too-tight jeans and pile of Hershey kisses wrappers prove it.)
As Jesus said to the woman at the well, those who drink the water He offers will never thirst again [John 4], and I’ve had a taste of what He’s talking about.
I felt alive in Haiti because – stripped of my comforts and distractions – I was constantly seeking and living in and dependent on His presence… the ultimate prize!
So really, being “ruined” has nothing to do with my physical location (although the Caribbean was frickin’ sweet and I will still blame my adventure in Haiti for being forever bored with a “normal” job).
It’s not about having showers with cold or hot water or a comfortable bed or not. It’s not about mosquitoes or traffic or sugar cane fields or an office cubicle. It’s not about being single or having a smokin’ hot husband…
(Hallelujah for that though. For real.)
Being “ruined” is about the fact that I have experienced the living God, the Living Water, the One who supernaturally remade my heart and made me a new – and eternal – creature, and now I belong to a different world. A Kingdom.
In this life, I will forever long for more. I will only be satisfied when I am completely in the presence of the One who gave me life. Even then, and sometimes mere seconds later, my flesh will rise up and rebel and tell me I need something more. Maybe a more exciting job. A move to another country. Or maybe just one more trip to the fridge.
It’s a constant tension.
I just can’t be satisfied with things of this world.
My hope is that as I continue to seek Him, to get to know my God, to read and trust His word – to be sanctified and made more and more like Him – that those periods of resting satisfaction will grow deeper and longer and I will more frequently win the battle against my flesh.
I know it’s ridiculous, but I sometimes envy those who don’t know Jesus. Those who haven’t met Him. I envy those who have just lived on rice and beans and have never had a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard or a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich.
(Sweet Jesus I’m drooling.)
These people simply don’t know what they’re missing, so they are blissful in their ignorance (and probably fit in their jeans, too). Some of them even seem to have everything handed to them… where is the struggle?? They happily float along in life, striving after their portion of wind, often unchallenged in their cages with open doors… so comfortable they never even consider escaping.
But I know the truth… that seemingly “easy” life is coming to an end for them.
And an eternity of suffering will begin.
This life will be the best experience they have in all of eternity.
On the contrary, my struggle against my flesh and my desires is temporary. And my eternity will be totally fulfilling, totally blissful, totally beyond anything I can even imagine. This life will be the worst experience I have in all of eternity.
It only gets better.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…”
[2 Corinthians 4:17]
Jesus promised it was true.
(And He was either telling the truth and He actually IS God, or He was just a deranged liar.)
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?””
So what will I do while ruined for this world and longing for the next?
I will trust His Word to be true – feasting on this Living Water to fill my deep longings unquenched by anything in this life as I wait for His coming.
While I wait… give me Jesus. Water for my soul.
(…okay, and maybe a few more pieces of chocolate.)
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
(For a great resource on battling the flesh and living in the Spirit, check out this oldie but goodie from John Piper HERE.)