31 July 2008

a new life and a new outlook

Somewhere along the line I have picked up this really bad habit of complaining about the small things. Things that don’t really matter like the colour of the carpet in my flat, or the fact that it is only 1 bedroom and we are a bit cramped. But really how greedy do I need to be? We have a roof, we have walls; really we have a decent flat. What is the need in complaining that my job can sometimes be pretty boring? At least it gives me the chance to blog while at work ;) But seriously, it pays extremely well and I have very flexible hours. Why the need to complain?! Where is my attitude of thanksgiving? Why am I not grateful for the things that I have in my life and instead end up comparing? It's not even comparing it to other people, I compare to an idea I have in my head of what married/adult life should look like. It hit me yesterday afternoon that all of that needed to change.

I have passed the 25 year mark which makes me seem more 'adult-like' than before. Not that I act any differently, or have different opportunities (except maybe renting a car more cheaply) but its one of those important life markers. I am closer to 30 than to 20. Along with my new age, comes my new marriage. Almost a year now I have been Mrs. Rhys Williams. While I have loved every single minute of married life, it does come with new responsibilities. Just a factor of growing up and starting a family I suppose. While I have longed for marriage, my own life, family, home etc... I have always had a certain expectation of what that would look like. An expectation based on the surroundings for the first 24 years of my life. Oklahoma and Arkansas and the people I encountered in those places gradually shaped the way I was to look at adult life and marriage. I have always said I wanted to live overseas, but I don’t think I ever really believed that I would. It was a far off dream more than reality. The white house with a wrap around porch and big green lawn was more realistic than life in Europe or Australia.

But then it all changed. I married my amazing husband and ended up living out my overseas dream in London. Problem was I didn’t bother to change my expectations of life. It just seemed like a minor detail. So what if I live in London, I can still have the nice 3 story house with a tree fort in the back yard right? and drive a big jeep? I never seemed to fully grasp the concept that London is the second most expensive place to live in the world while Arkansas, Fayetteville in particular, is one of the cheapest places to live in America (and the world) It was annoying that the flat was smaller, everything was more expensive and it wasn’t always feasible to drive. You would think it would be pretty obvious- things that work in Arkansas don’t necessarily work in London. For some reason it hit me yesterday. Sacrifice.

Yes, sacrifice. Amazing what a difference a realization and a few hours can make. I live in London, on a decent but not huge wage. Therefore I will not have a big house, or a house at all for that matter! I will probably always live in a tiny flat and feel a bit cramped while we choose to reside here. I will have to rely on public transport and deal with expensive petrol and food. But I don’t think I will complain as much anymore. Why? Sacrifice. I may have to 'sacrifice' or change my preconceived ideas of adult life and marriage, but in exchange I get someone equally as fantastic. See my problem was that up until yesterday I was some how convinced that I was doing something wrong because I have now reached the 'adult' stage and don’t like my job, own my own house, have a big yard or drive a fancy car. Not only is that stupid, but not even what I have ever really wanted! I had convinced myself that life needed to look like small town Arkansas or Oklahoma and I measured myself against those lifestyles and expectations. But the thing is, I don’t live there or really want that life anymore. I grew up but hadn’t really changed my mind.

So I may be sacrificing the ideas of my childhood, but I do get something amazing in return. I have always believed in theory that when you sacrifice yourself and personal desires and really surrender to the will of the Lord, amazing things happened. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus has us in London for this time. But I have not been willing to sacrifice any of my 'American-ness' or my expectations to be truly open to see what He has for us here. Because I live in the UK I may not get the house and land and space, but I do get Europe. Last week I was in San Pedro and Marbella Spain for 7 days. This weekend we are going to Wales. In two weeks for our anniversary we are going to see the Stereophonics live in Cambridge and then thinking of going to Amsterdam for the weekend. That’s right, Amsterdam for the weekend! Not only is it that close, but affordable as well. What an amazing time of life! How in the world could I ever forget to be grateful for living here? God has provided me with an amazing opportunity to travel and work and live reasonably all at the same time! How in the world has it taken me so long to embrace the life has God has laid ahead for me here in the UK? It looks really different than life in Arkansas, but gosh, how amazing is it here?

So what brought on the change? Well a little bit of everything. It has been really sunny this week in London. On Monday I met my friend Mandy for drinks in Trafalgar Square. I walked through the crowded centre, with fountains and people galore! Children and grown men in suits jumping in the fountains alike, teenagers enjoying a kick around game, families having an early evening picnic. It was one of the loveliest sites of summer London so far. As I made my way to the pub where my friend was, she had already reserved a nice table under the shade of a big tree. Having a beer, eating some chips, watching the big red double-decker buses go by, I was so pleased to live in London in the summer. It was an indescribable smushy, warm feeling in my heart. Then yesterday, the big catalyst was a conversation with my friend Sam. It went something like this:

S: Want to do late night shopping Thursday on Oxford Street?

K: Yeah, I could be up for that. What time?

S: Want to get the same tube from Waterloo or should be just meet outside at the Marble Arch tube stop?

K: is the store by Marble Arch? I cant picture it there in my head.

S: Yeah I think so...I will look tomorrow.

A simple enough conversation, but the core is that we are choosing to meet either at Waterloo station or a tube stop on Oxford Street. I have those options! Its good to live in London; its good to shop on Oxford street; its good to finally be truly thankful for the opportunity to live, work and experience life in a different country and truly embrace it for all its worth. I may be sacrificing the dream of my big country house with a porch by age 26, but I am gaining the dream on international jet setter! :) I am finally open to see what the Lord has given me, and requires of me, while in the UK. I am finally open and ready.


Susanna said...

Glad to hear that you are seeing things in a new light. Its a great place to be - but a hard one to get to!

Sean and Shey said...

WOW. Love this post. I would have to say that contentment is one of my biggest struggles right now. I ALWAYS said I never want to live in California. And here I am. *smirk* I've learned not to tell GOd what I will or won't do! Like what you said, my life is not at all how I imagined... I'm now checking the "26-30" age category instead of the "20-25" and I thought surely I'd have kids and be more settled by now. But you're right... its all about sacrifice and making the most of where you are at this present moment.