Today’s Strong in the Broken post is by Serenity, offering a specific insight into longevity abroad and how to achieve it joyfully. (By the way, yes, I’m still accepting posts for this series, probably through August.)
“AND SING!!! Don’t just listen to your music, sing along. Sing when you cook, when you clean, when you drive. Sing in the night, in your mind you will wake up with a song in your heart. A song of praise to our God.” My mother sent this advice to my roommate in a much needed email recently. As I read those words, I realized that this decision to sing was what has kept my mother overseas for the past thirty years, and it is what has sustained me too. It is through the songs, and through the singing, that we have been able to weather the storms, which are many.
Living in my little part of my very big city, I have had to fight for joy almost every single day. There has been pain. Lots and lots of pain. There have been tears, hugs, and hands held while prayers have been said and unsaid. And I have searched for ways to keep my head up and hold on. When my mother’s email arrived, it was an affirmation that singing is important. It was a confirmation that having the music at work, at home, and in the commute can be a tool. A tool to help us to sing.
The struggle to sing is not something I only bear for myself but it can be a challenge for those around me also. I sometimes look out at my class and see a student who has just moved, a student with no idea how long they will stay and one student whose brother just left her to study in a different country. I see another student experiencing the grief of death, another grieving because visas were lost, and yet another student who can’t understand a word I say. I have found that if I look at these moments in themselves, they are ugly. I struggle to find the beauty in them.
The Right Now can often look like that. We might feel rejected or abandoned. And, we definitely do not feel like singing. But then I remember that the Right Now will eventually form the fabric of an incredible tapestry. So the songs must continue. That can mean that someone else might be singing for us, or that we only have the energy to listen to the music, but the songs and the singing continue.
As we walk through these seasons of life we find ourselves angry, sad, and hurt. I find myself staring rejection in the face again and again. I sometimes forget how to be genuine. Sometimes it is something as small as being just too hot outside, and I find myself suddenly petulant. It is in those moments when I sing, actually sing, and I remember that I will look back someday at the Right Now and I will see the beauty. I have a lighthouse tattooed on my right forearm to remind me of one of my favorite songs and to remind me to keep singing, to keep holding on. It is a constant reminder for me of the song inside of me.
There have been moments, and there will continue to be, where I feel ignored, taken advantage of, abused. Living overseas sometimes means that I’m misunderstood in my host country and I’m confused in my home country. But instead of allowing the lies that I am less than someone or something, I choose to put truths in front of me. Truths that do not let my fear hold me back. Truths that help me to sing a new song each morning. This means that I keep getting up, keep investing, keep loving, keep serving, and keep trusting. My heart and soul remain in a messy state, and have hardly anything figured out as I transition from one country to another, but I do know one thing – that I will keep singing, even when the storm tries its absolute best to stop me…I will keep singing.
Serenity calls South Asia home, but also feels at home in the Mid-West. She drinks more coffee than is beneficial, and spends most of her time telling little people that math and manners are really important.
Facebook: Serenity Ward