I’m cuddled up on the couch burning my tongue on freshly roasted sweet potatoes and trying to think of how to start this post. It’s surprisingly hard to come up with something to write about each week; I obviously can’t share everything that happened this week, so what am I supposed to highlight?
This week has been the hardest. This week has been the best. And as with all my weeks here, so much has happened inside me that I haven’t the first clue how to give you a taste of this experience.
I did not expect Thanksgiving to rattle me so much, if that’s what this week’s emotional turbulence was about. I have never felt so homesick, so awkward, so utterly alone as I did at times this week. Starting the week already exhausted from last weekend’s trip didn’t help of course, and the sun setting before five in the evening certainly didn’t make things better. Wednesday was especially bad; I spent the whole day on the verge of tears. I felt like I constantly made mistakes, linguistically and culturally, and I was all too tempted to indulge in the feeling that I haven’t made any progress since September.
Yet my emotional strife was not without its perfect foil (in the literary sense of the term). My Christian family has never before come through so beautifully for me: on Wednesday afternoon, a friend had me over to make pumpkin pie, listen to Christmas music, and color after she found out I was having a rough day; I spent Saturday afternoon with another friend, an afternoon that ended in tea and cake with more friends; and today after church, the pastor and his wife had several of us over for a lovely dinner. The pièce de résistance, so to speak, was Thursday evening—my campus Bible study organised a Thanksgiving party that included a retelling of the Thanksgiving story and an ample supply of homemade Thanksgiving desserts. It was such a beautiful evening! To top it off, I stayed over at a francophone friend’s house, and did we ever have great conversation! The memory of that evening’s conversation—the ease with which I expressed myself in French—kept my hopes afloat this weekend when my overworked brain decided to be lazy and speak English at every opportunity.
My first Thanksgiving apart from my family might have been hard, but it also gave me more reason than ever to give thanks. I’ve known these friends for less than three months, yet not only did I feel at home with them (even amidst the awkwardness; let’s be honest, when have I ever not been awkward?), I also felt incredibly loved by them. And that, friends, is a miracle.
I stumbled across the song “Like A Lake” by Sara Groves the other day. I used to listen to her all the time in high school, but it had been years since I’d heard this song.
I find the song a good reminder that no matter how easy and appealing it is for my introvert soul to curl up around itself when I’m hurting, it’s far healthier to open up, to let myself process the struggles, to share the pain with my Christian brothers and sisters, and to let that be a moment for the Church (not in the sense of a building or an organisation, but in the sense of the people of God) to step up and do it’s job, providing community, love, support, and encouragement. I’m so thankful that God gave us each other. I’m so thankful that God gave us His Son to restore us to Himself. I’m so, so thankful for love.