Towards the start of last term I started writing something about how difficult I was finding being back in Canterbury after a year away. I didn’t publish it, maybe because I didn’t see how my feelings of discouragement were going to benefit my readers. Maybe I didn’t want to admit to the world how tough it felt, because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful. Who likes to admit that despite having everything they need, they still feel low? I kept going though and somehow made it to the end of term, feeling ill with exhaustion and stress. I don’t think it was a horrible term but it was difficult nonetheless, for many reasons. If my Year Abroad was like being on a rollercoaster, this year so far has felt a bit like trying to run in a swimming pool.
Readjusting can be a slow process, especially when you still feel as though your heart is elsewhere. I still enjoy my classes and the benefits of student life, but despite that, I feel so ready to finish university and move on; I feel like I’m walking around in shoes I’ve outgrown.
You’re probably reading this thinking ‘wow this isn’t encouraging at all’. I will freely admit, too, that some of my general feeling of ‘meh’ is my own fault. I have to give myself an attitude check daily. You’re not really living if all your hopes and thoughts are directed towards the past or even the future, at the expense of enjoying the present. I don’t think that’s the life God intends for us. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to dream for the future, or to have fond memories of the past. Those are valuable and precious and sometimes those things help to keep you going. Yet I also do not want to look back on this time – my final year – regretting that I didn’t appreciate it because my thoughts were far away.
Why am I writing this now, sharing this real stuff with you? I guess because God is faithful even in those times of negativity. I can see His goodness to me despite everything and that is a huge comfort – I mean, I’m not deserving of it. I can be pretty ungrateful sometimes.
It would be easy for me some days to look at my circumstances and declare ‘hey God I’m not really seeing this working right now, and I don’t feel like you’re answering my prayers very clearly so I’m just gonna give up’. But this is the point: God will not give up on me. Ever. So I’m not giving up on Him. There’s a Psalm somewhere (I don’t remember which exactly) where the author struggles to keep going, and has to search hard for things to be thankful for. So he declares he will look back over all the incredible things that God has done for him in the past. I’m happy to say that my situations are no-where near as drastic as those described in the Psalm, but the principle is completely applicable. Thankfulness is a powerful weapon in the face of disheartenment.
Sometimes, you have to dig in your heels and grit your teeth and hold on to that rope… and all of the other metaphors that pertain to this topic. It is a conscious effort at times not to drown in your own apathy and discouragement. You have to choose to bring a sacrifice of praise when it does not bubble up from your spirit.
The good news is that I am feeling more accepting of being here than I did last term. I am learning patience and seeing beauty in the smaller things. I’m learning to trust like a blind person being led; to believe for the impossible.
I don’t know how things are going in your life but I would like to encourage you not to throw in the towel if you’re struggling for any reason. Don’t give up on God. He hasn’t forgotten you, He loves you, He does care.
Hope that was at least a little bit helpful to someone.