Jeremiah 29:11

This August will make four and a half years since I left home to live here in Dubai. Time has gone by so fast, and it’s only when I take a brief moment to reminisce, that I realize how much has changed, how much I have changed and how good God has been. It’s been a good four years. It has also been four years of sacrifice.

Each time I go back home, I wonder, is it all worth it? I see my dad has aged a little more. He’s still one of the fittest people I know, still as hard-working as ever, still determined to do everything he did twenty years ago. But now I see him tire easily. I watch him swallow medication for minor middle age maladies. I watch him struggle to wake up at the crack of dawn to take my dog for his walk because Skippy won’t have it any other way. Neither will my dad. He’s my hero. I hope I turn out just like him when I’m older.

I watch my mum. She’s still as beautiful as ever. I watch her take charge of the house-hold’s goings on. Like an army sergeant, she has the routine ingrained in her down to the last detail. She’s up at 5 in the morning; she’s cooked, cleaned and dressed impeccably for a day at the office by 7. What a remarkable woman! In spite of all her responsibilities she finds time to be a friend to those who need her. She still makes us all laugh. She’s the funniest person in our family. She’s also the best actor from among us all! How I miss spending time with her.

Each time I go back, my brother is a little older, a little more mature, so much more focused. He’s grown into such a fine young man! I watch him play the guitar, his fingers magically gliding over the strings of the old instrument. He’s gotten so good, so talented. He tells me of concerts he’s been in, awards he’s won and I feel so terrible inside. I didn’t get to be a part of those special moments in his life. I’ll always be the one hearing the stories. Never the one he’ll turn to and say ‘you remember that time when….?’  I’d much rather be the latter.

But then I look at myself. I look deep within. Four years has changed me too. I’m a good ten pounds heavier than when I first crossed the Persian Gulf. But on a more serious note I look back at the naïve twenty-three year old I was. I look back and I see a young, inexperienced, scared youngster. So much has changed since then. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything in the world. I am living my dream. I love what I do. I was born to teach, there is no doubt about that. I’ve traveled the world on a teacher’s salary, how many people can boast of that? I’ve met some remarkable people along the way. I have gotten to be part of the lives of some of the brightest young people of this generation. I’ve grown, I’m stronger. I’m a little wiser.

So now what? You see, from the very core of my being I believe that I came all this way for a purpose. There is a higher calling: a divine plan that is playing out. Sure there are times when I question it. I don’t see the full picture. I wonder what’s going on up there…when I will see clearly. I ask for direction. I question my maker. I ponder over the decisions I have made and hope and pray they were the right ones. And then suddenly in a quiet moment, after I’ve vented, after I’ve wrestled with God over how futile I think it all is, I’m reminded that I my steps are guided by a power I cannot comprehend. I’m reminded that there’s someone up there with a plan for me that my mortal mind cannot begin to fathom. I realize that I’ve always been the centre of his plan. That everything happens only because he has willed it to.  He knows all. He sees all. He plans all.

In that quiet moment, I breathe again. I sit there in the silence. My thoughts stop racing. There is a calm assurance that everything, every single thing is as it should be.

I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. – Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

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Of Lies, Love and Work….

Yesterday I had a conversation that left me in a contemplative mood. I replayed the conversation in my mind at various points in the day and like a festering sore, it refused to leave me alone.  So here I am putting down my thoughts in words again, for this is the only way I will get any sense of closure or finality. Lying here in bed tapping at the keys on my laptop I am reminded of a speech Steve Jobs’ made at Stanford some time before he passed away. Here is the crux of what he had to say…

‘You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.’

Profound, deep, inspirational and moving words from a modern-day maverick and yet I’m left questioning how practical his advice is. He put forward an ideal that we should aspire to fulfill. Can we follow his advice and not settle on issues of love and work? Take me for example,  if I search for everything my heart desires for a relatively short time, then the search can be considered worthwhile; but if the search is very long or never even finds me the kind of love or work I desire, then in the end would the search have been worth it? If I keep all these options open indefinitely am I really just chasing impractical options? Am I lying to myself each time I tell myself that things will work out when they’re meant to?

It has taken me almost an hour to write this post today. I’ve paused and pondered along the way and that is so unlike my regular rambling confused style. But anyhow, here’s what I’ve decided and while I’m not fully satisfied with my conclusion it has however, brought me some temporary closure. So here it is…

Not settling or not compromising, in love and work is a commendable ideal, but it is not always practical and not appropriate in all of my circumstances. Sometimes I will just have to settle and compromise and gradually build what I love. At other times, I need to realize my limitations and settle for the best alternative—in love and in my work. In any case life provides no guarantees so we just do what we gotta do and hope that it all turns out well in the end….