18 November 2010

Stress and Other Foreign Concepts

Living in France has really opened my eyes to the reality of how wonderful a low stress lifestyle is.  I know, you're thinking to yourself:  'Really Deb., REALLY?!?!  Moving to a new country, learning a new language, adapting to a new culture . . . ALONE!  You call that a low stress lifestyle?!?!  ARE YOU NUTS?!?!'  But, yeah, compared to the pace of life I had before moving to France, my lifestyle has been much slower.  Sure there's been stress . . . but it's been very different!

Maybe it's because I'm on the other side of culture shock . . . or because my only responsiblity here was to learn the language, but I really enjoy my pace of life here.  I don't have a car, so transportation takes longer but is out of my control.  I'm not working, so I don't feel those stresses.  I walk ten steps to get to class everyday, so there's no commute or traffic to deal with.  Because of my time frame and language level I haven't been involved in ministry like I was at home.  So my lifestyle has been stripped of so many of the things that used to fill up my calendar.  I've had time to read and visit museums and go to see documentaries . . . all of course in French and therefore language learning, but in the past 6 months all of those things simply augmented the grammatical structures and vocabulary I was learning . . . they were no longer intimidating or overwhelming or frustrating.

But I'm leaving France in 5 weeks.  I have  plane ticket for 20 Decembre.  And I am overwhelmed.  I am feeling a type of stress I haven't experienced in 16 months.  Of course I've had stressful moments since I've been here . . . but they were a completely different type of stress. 

When I leave here in December I am heading back to the States for a month.  That month is PACKED FULL already!  I've spent the first half of November working through all of those detais and making all of those arrangements.  Now, my end-of-November is focused on packing up my life here and leaving.  This period has been in the back of my mind since I arrived in France back in August 2009.  But it's always been so far away.  And now, here it is. 

But the hardest part is that I'm not just packing some suitcases, mailing a few boxes, and cleaning out my closet-sized room . . . rather, that on top of all those details, I'm ending another chapter.  One that, despite so many victories and defeats . . . mountain tops and valleys, I have really enjoyed.  If ever given the opportunity to live in France again, hands-down, I would take it.  I can't exactly put it into words, but I have loved it here . . . not every moment . . . not every situation, but the same can be said about my life in the US . . . or life anywhere for that matter. 

So today, at this moment, I am feeling so incredibly overwhelmed by every detail that must be thought through and taken care of between 'now and then' . . . and the next 'now and then' . . . and finally that last departure date when I'm bound for Niger . . . only to start all over with something completely new and different. 

And in the midst of it, I find myself acutely identifying with Peter . . . he's already out of the boat . . . he's walking on top of the waves . . . if he keeps his eyes fixed on Jesus he will keep going . . . but Peter is Peter, and in an instant he finds himself sinking, he can't walk any further until Jesus pulls him back up to the surface . . . even still he ends up wet, drenched by the sea . . . but when the scene closes, there is Peter with Jesus, walking on water.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

i love your honesty. i'll be praying that we who are your friends here will be a great encouragement to you during that month. we certainly can't wait to see you again!