We love living a bit more rurally, having dirt in between our toes instead of cement and don’t mind giving up convenience for a bit of quiet. We love seeing the same people each day because the community is small, love being creative with limited resources and love just being in a more rural setting. Some may classify this by saying we are more country people or we are NOT city people. The problem with any statement beginning with WE ARE NOT is that it makes it hard to be able to thrive if a season (or the entirety) of your life has you in an environment where you are NOT. You start to be defined by what you cannot be rather then what you can. You start to spend your waking (and sleeping perhaps) hours dreaming of a better environment and miss the beauty of the current one. The “if only” falls in this realm as well. IF ONLY I lived…. IF ONLY I had… IF ONLY my spouse would…IF ONLY my kids…IF ONLY…we start to define ourselves by what we lack rather then what we have.
This is a battle I fully believe we must fight. Sometimes we can choose our circumstances, and environments often we cannot. We are in one of those seasons where it would be so easy to sigh, throw up our hands and say, well we would (……) BUT. Or perhaps our minds drift to IF ONLY….or sometimes even to WE ARE NOT… Together J— and I combat these thoughts by thinking about what we are here rather then what we are not.
We left our rural house on the Nile to one of the biggest cities in Africa. We are living on the fifth floor in the center of the city surrounded by traffic, little green, lots of cement and stores and resources galore. We struggle to get to know our neighbors (rather then struggle to have some private space), we can have groceries delivered (rather then have to fly them in), there is no outdoor space for our kids to play, unless we pay to enter a park (vs having the entirety of our surroundings be a playground. We are in the polar opposite environment we thought we would be in this year and as the weeks have passed we have slowly been moving from the WE ARE NOT stage to the WE ARE.
It is a subtle battle of the mind and words but instead of sitting down and talking about the lack of options for the kids like we were accustomed to we sit down and explore the myriad of options here (ballet class, schooling for language, playgrounds, art lessons, a library). We talk about the benefits of our apartment (exercise walking up those stair flights, the view of the city, privacy), sometimes we discuss the benefits of commuting around the city (language practice, direction giving, meeting and conversing and sometimes sharing about God with our cab drivers). Medical benefits (labs, testing, procedures that can be completed in country). Just the other day we reached a point where while we would still classify ourselves as more naturally at home in a country environment we could honestly say we are living well in the city. Or more specifically we are not NOT city people (a double negative in this case is a step up from NOT right?). At one point my dear husband even said, we are looking at this all wrong we need to think about what people do here not what they don’t. It really struck a chord with me … to focus on the we are aspect of life and embracing the good. To allow the benefits to define our experience not the negatives.
So in the battle of balance between self awareness and contentment we can confidently say that we are more naturally ourselves in Melut, but we are not not city people and are enjoying embracing the traffic, stores, cabs, and honking horns for a season…as long as we can vacation away from it all a few times a year.
What are some battle you fight where you are seeking to not default to the excuse of if only or we are not but embrace the season for what it offers? (Please encourage us by sharing!)