The Space He Meets Me

We went out on bikes to visit our sick friend, after the rain, as the sun sunk. The last of the anvil clouds were mountained in the east, beaming back the last light of day. I told Sam it was a beautiful afternoon.

We are a sight when we ride. We sport sunglasses and our own bikes. You don’t see that too often, a man and his wife on their own bike, riding together. Most people have only enough money for one set of wheels, so they’ll double up, him on the seat and her in front or behind, always sideways. Sam and I ride fast when the road is flat enough, maybe because it’s better exercise or maybe because it’s easier than feeling ashamed of being so different. I ride, awkwardly, tugging my skirt to keep my knees covered, dodging potholes.

Sometime today I had forgotten that I live out past the pavement with neighbors who wear a different color skin. It was good to be out, to remember, to see and hear and feel this place in which I live.

I had been busy, of course. I had made yogurt. I had heated water, drawn from the tap outside, for tea and for washing dishes. I measured beans and rice and money so that everyone at our house and the translation office worked on full stomachs. I left an embarrassing number of dishes for the two men we hire to help at home. I had baked cookies for Sam. I had sat inside, pecking out emails and plans and spelling corrections in the draft.

And this is the tension: that my body dwells here but I do not quite—at all—fit. I do things that other women my age don’t. I work inside. I read. I bring a pen to church. I bake chocolate chip cookies. I ride my own bicycle. It’s just as true that I don’t do things that women my age do. I don’t own a field and read the skies and sow seeds. I do not set my pot to boil on a triangle of three rocks. I don’t care for babies I bore young. I don’t have my sisters next door. I don’t go to the well to hear and tell news. I don’t go hungry this time of year.

A glance through a scrolling screen creates the same tension, as it presents friends moving through our young adult life. I do not attend women’s Bible study because there isn’t one. I don’t go out for coffee because there is no coffee shop. I do not host in my home because hosting is only ever done outside. I do not go to work. I pray for the church offering in a third language, always with my heart in my throat. I kill cockroaches that make me shudder. I make a home for one good man.

Perhaps I do not quite fit anywhere.

I don’t tell these things to wear a badge; I am not very brave. If you could see me here, you’d know how many days I wake up afraid. I don’t tell these things to whine either. My life is not harder than the next, only different. Some things, like memories and sunsets and lives, shouldn’t be compared.

I think all I’m saying is that this is the daily tension I’m living into—an unfulfilled longing for a good thing. Full participation in the place I live or the place I left or maybe both. Because participation means knowing and being known, seeing and being seen.

And we can say all we want to about how unfulfilled longings point us to our unending life with a Good Shepherd, and it’s all, all of it, true. But I’m beginning to see, or only hope, that Jesus does not only mean this season for a lesson. It’s purpose isn’t only to remind me that He will restore all things. This rather awkward space of living foreign in all my circles is created by Him for Him to fill. Not only later, but now. I have looked around the four walls of my house and my day, surprised to discover that this is where He meets me. Few have seen the inside of my space, but it is precisely here, hidden, that He sees me. Not one of my unseen moments is lost to Him.    

So, as an ancient saint said, I press on to know Him. In a place that highlights my economic wealth and my poverty of soul. Among friends faraway who hear or see pixelated versions of difficulties that sound exotic but are really—only—my gritty, sweaty, real life. In a season where I live hidden while my label puts me on display. I press on to know Him because He knows, and He is here, and there is no space in which He cannot be found.

We sat with that sick woman, prayed for her, and turned home, the light lowering still. At home, the guard greeted us with the afternoon greeting—“Is the sun setting well upon you?”

Yes, it was.

And this is the relief at the end of each day, when the heat breaks and the sun makes its glorious farewell. That this space is all beautifully governed and given, and we belong just here. With Him.

Where are you surprised to discover that Jesus meets you?

 

 

 

 

 

38 Comments

  1. Linda March 14, 2017

    THANK YOU..so much for writing this, my soul needed it today! It’s exactly how I’ve been feeling and the words he’s been speaking to me. Blessings

    1. Elizabeth March 15, 2017

      Oh yes, I love when He speaks encouragement thru someone else’s story. He’s so good!

  2. Ruth March 14, 2017

    Thank you. It was a joy to read your words and your heart. What a joy and comfort that Jesus is meeting each of us in our hidden moments that are so very different yet all commonly strange in this life we lead. Thanks so much x

    1. Elizabeth March 15, 2017

      Jesus is so kind to draw near in our unseen moments. Praying that He meets you in yours.

  3. Dorette March 14, 2017

    Awesome post.. Thank you for writing this and reminding us of the places “”all beautifully governed and given, where we belong with Him” – even when it feels like we do not fit 😉

    May you be blessed on your special journey..

    1. Elizabeth March 15, 2017

      And I’m asking for His presence with you on your own journey, Dorette. May you always know you fit with Him.

  4. Christina Davis March 14, 2017

    You asked where does He meet me? He met me in my brokenness. When its not enough that you don’t quite fit anywhere, and when the work you’ve done, has borne no fruit, and you are broken in body, emotions and spirit…and you say, Oh Lord, I have utterly failed. He meets you there. He say’s I know my child. I already knew all this and I love you just the same. Remember, it’s My work and you are only My tool, and I know you and I want you to just trust me and rest in ME. Like you said just as we do not compare the sunsets, we cannot compare or judge the work. We are invited to meet Him wherever we are.
    He is good and truly all we need.

    1. Michelle March 15, 2017

      Yes! I give the same answer–God meets me in brokenness. In those times when things feel out of control, when I feel like I’ve utterly failed, when I realize I can’t do this, when I feel small and unimportant and weak and completely undone….when, in heart at least, I fall on my face before Him and stretch out my hands to Him, wordless, broken…He meets me there, with a tenderness and intimacy I’ve never experienced in times when my life seems more orderly and productive and spiritual.

      1. Elizabeth March 15, 2017

        Isn’t it amazing that some of our most intimate moments with Him are some of our most broken moments? It’s so good to hear what He’s teaching you.

    2. Elizabeth March 15, 2017

      Love this. Thanks for sharing part of your own journey too. Praying that He continues to speak His kindness over you.

  5. Keri March 14, 2017

    Thank you for your thoughts. It is a gift to have a place to read stories from some of the most precious women around the world. You have inspired me to ponder all of the places he meet me in the course of the day. VA writers, thank you! Keep writing…It is a blessing that you share yourselves with the world.

    1. Elizabeth March 16, 2017

      Please know that it’s a gift to share with safe people like you.

  6. Patty Stallings March 15, 2017

    Elizabeth, you frame the paradoxes of this life so beautifully and with such grace. Thank you.

  7. Robin Mar March 15, 2017

    What a thoughtful expression of your journey. I remember well that tension of not fitting in. Interestingly enough, whether overseas or stateside I feel the same tension. I am becoming comfortable with not fitting in and feeling okay about that. I am learning to relish a simple and content heart that is comfortable with the smile of Jesus upon me, His approval and fitting in with Him and His kingdom. Blessings to you all far and wide scattered across the globe!

    1. Zina March 15, 2017

      I feel the same way…don’t really fit in anywhere or with anyone …this has drawn me closer to Jesus and to my husband over the last 10 years. Thanks so much for your reply!

    2. Elizabeth March 16, 2017

      Yes, I love this. He is the One who makes all the difference.

  8. Lauren Pinkston March 15, 2017

    Really beautifully worded. I enjoyed reading your heart here! <3

  9. Rachel March 15, 2017

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful, true words. He is “El Roi”— the God who sees (Gen. 16:13). The fact that He draws near and knows our souls in adversities (Ps. 31:7) is one of the most priceless gifts in this life.

    1. Elizabeth March 19, 2017

      Thanks for the verse references–such good truth here.

  10. patty kirk March 15, 2017

    Lovely blog and post! I’m so impressed with your writing!

    1. Elizabeth March 19, 2017

      I hope you know you’ve been an important part of my journey, and I’m deeply grateful for your influence.

  11. Phyllis getz March 15, 2017

    What a beautifully written message that so many people, whether living in a far-off place or at home, can identify with. Your words clearly portray the feeling of an “outsider” in many occasions and circumstances. I love that all of these “alone” feelings draw us ever closer to our Heavenly Father where we can find His love and His nearness beyond measure! Love your thoughts, Elizabeth!

    1. Elizabeth March 19, 2017

      Yes, these feelings of foreignness can happen no matter where we are because we are all just longing for heaven!

  12. Bobby Roecker March 15, 2017

    Thank you for your beautiful thoughts. We pray for you both. We pray that things will get easier for you there. God is truly working in and through you.

  13. Martha March 15, 2017

    Thank you Elizabeth for your words that poured out and over me just now, here in the space where I am, where He has me for now, where the sun is setting all golden, on one place where one part of my heart resides, while another part is faraway over the sea. ” I press on to know Him because He knows, and He is here, and there is no space in which He cannot be found.” These words that you spoke as well as others sank into my heart and gave voice to what is there. Again, I am appreciative of your heart behind and weaving through this post.

    1. Elizabeth March 19, 2017

      He’s so faithful to meet us where He’s at, isn’t He? Praying that you know more and more of His presence in the tension of your space.

  14. Abbie Thompson March 15, 2017

    Sweet Elizabeth, thank you for your willingness to share a little bit of your journey and how the Lord continues to meet you in the special way that only He can. As you see in many other comments, you spoke the words that are also on my heart so often. I’m still figuring out how to really see Him in the midst of feeling so foreign despite being a part of our local community for a while now. So very thankful He is the constant One who sees us and meets us no matter how sweaty or weird or hard or easy life is at the moment 🙂 I continue to pray for you & Sam & thank God for you!

    1. Elizabeth March 19, 2017

      Thanks for your description of Him as the constant One–how settling it is to rest in His care. Love you, friend!

  15. Marguerite March 16, 2017

    Thanks so much. Your writing touchs me.

  16. Jenn March 16, 2017

    Loved this!!! Thank you!!!

  17. Tim Bertsche March 16, 2017

    Hi Elizabeth- wow, so well written, I was deeply moved to hear your heart and the breadth of your insight as you wrestle with the eternal dilemma of belonging in Him and yet not belonging here. You are now a TCA- a third culture adult- a product of two contrasting and sometimes clashing cultures. You will never fully belong in Balama- and you will never be completely at home in Arkansas. But that is ok. It is this hybrid-ed meld fashioning you today that equips you to contribute on both sides of the divide. Standing stretched, painfully, with one foot in each culture allows you to contribute gifts in both lands that is impossible for the one steeped solely in their mother culture. The clash of different, examined carefully, with a long view in mind, may enable you to speak, give, move, and be in ways that bring a richness to those who will stop and engage with you. Over time, you will feel a growing sense of belonging, a settling of your soul, a firming of your confidence and a wafting away of your fears. Ultimately, that eternal space in our heart that aches for belonging will be filled with company and wonder when our multicultural wanderings are over and we arrive home, where we belong, where we are meant to be.

    1. Elizabeth March 19, 2017

      This long view of things is so, so important. I love this reminder of the process and that the end is always worth it.

  18. Yvonne March 17, 2017

    So much of my own heart in your beautifully written testimony.

    1. Elizabeth March 19, 2017

      Praying for you, Yvonne, that the Lord continues to shepherd your heart in kindness as He leads you.

  19. Kathryn borba July 6, 2017

    “Some things, like memories and sunsets and lives, shouldn’t be compared.” amen. Thank you for your words so eloquently written.

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