What a move across the world taught me
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Last summer, my husband accepted a job that moved us from the United States to Africa. After a few weeks in our new country, my initial excitement had worn off. To me, the new culture was grating and making friends seemed impossible. And, because of the immigration laws, I couldn't get a work permit.
In the space of a few months, I'd gone from being a successful businesswoman to feeling friendless and unemployable. I was pretty miserable.
I tried my best to make a go of things. I kept myself busy looking for a house to rent, unpacking, finding the closest grocery store, and setting up a bank account. We found a church and began to make friends. I joined my husband on his business trips to several African countries. Humanly trying to "make things work," though, ultimately wasn't satisfying.
I started to pray more deeply, beginning by studying the story of Abraham in the Bible. God told Abraham to leave his country and family for a new land. In return, God said, "I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing" (Gen. 12:2). So, Abraham went, with his wife, Sarah. And God blessed Sarah by making her the "mother of nations."
When my husband and I had first prayed about the decision to move to Africa, it seemed clear to both of us that God was giving us the green light. Therefore, it made sense that, like Abraham and Sarah, we would both be blessed by our obedience. And, not only were Abraham and Sarah blessed, but God promised they would be a blessing. In that spirit, then, I would be given a way to help others and to put my talents to good use (something my husband was already doing). After all, God gave me - as He gives all of us - unique talents and abilities, so He must provide an outlet for me to express them.
I remember one day in particular that I spent in anguished prayer. I was reading Christ Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" and was struck by this passage: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matt. 7:7, 8). What a comforting promise! I began to feel the tension and worry melting away. I was honestly asking, seeking, and knocking, so I knew God would answer me.
Over the next few days, I kept thinking of this passage by Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science. It reads: "Be of good cheer; the warfare with one's self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you, - and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 118).
As I considered this passage, I realized it had definitely been my year for "warfare with one's self." Spending so much time alone in surroundings where things move slowly taught me to be more patient and tolerant. I saw that in this sense I had been well employed in learning these lessons, and I thanked God for this realization.
Several days later at church, someone approached me and asked if I'd work on a particular committee. I cheerfully agreed. Two minutes later, I was asked to teach in the Sunday School. As I drove home, it dawned on me that the two activities perfectly complemented each other. Several days later, I applied for another position in church - and when I was accepted, I found out that this position paid an honorarium (which was totally unexpected).
I certainly hadn't planned on spending so much time working for church, but for now that is my answer. I've found that I'm well qualified for the positions I hold, and I find my days filled with activities that I'm good at and enjoy doing. I don't feel useless anymore. Now, I understand that my satisfaction and validation as a person don't come from a job or a career. Instead, they come from knowing I am being obedient to my Father-Mother God, who always takes care of my every need. This blesses me and makes me a blessing to others.
The Lord of hosts hath sworn... As I have purposed, so shall it stand.