Thursday, January 24, 2013

Comfort vs. Contentment

I lay in bed last night, trying to sleep in a sauna.  Praying for breeze to come through the windows, and fretting over the meat in my freezer which was slowly defrosting.  I actually think the chicken kept me awake more than the heat. 

The transformer in our neighborhood had exploded, leaving us without power for about 40 hours.  Our back-up battery system only lasts about 8 hours before needing to be re-charged, and our generator was letting out an awful lot of smoke, so we were left with the sauna.

Thankfully, it was only 40 hours, and not six days like the last time a transformer exploded.  And we did eat the chicken and nobody threw up. 

We're going back to California in July.  I'm tracking plane ticket prices online.  We're staying for a year this time, which means that I'm buying one-way tickets.  For the first time in 8 years, we will rent an apartment in the States.  So I've been thinking a lot a lot a lot about America these days. 

During those times when I lay in bed sweating, I especially think about America, The Land of Eternal Electricity.  I admit it; I like comfort.  Oh yes, do I like comfort.  I don't like being overly hot and I definitely don't like being sweaty.  I like drive-throughs and superstores and I like entertainment.  I like good health care and roads where people follow the rules. 

I'm looking forward to speaking English wherever I go.  I'm excited about Trader Joe's and clothes dryers and real customer service.  I will be relieved to blend in with the crowd instead of being the sore thumb all the time. 

Why do I choose this life in Tanzania?  Why don't I just get on that plane in July and never come back? 

Because God has taught me that comfort does not equal contentment.  In fact, it's often the uncomfortable that teaches me to be content with the comfortable.  Like a mom who never learned to appreciate a good night's sleep or time to herself until she had a baby.  Like a cancer patient who never learned to appreciate health until she went through hell and back.  Electricity, water, infrastructure of all kinds, medical care, and purposeful work have all gained new meaning by living in Tanzania.

It's kind of funny, actually, because after 10 years, this has, in many ways, become my comfortable life.  Moving back to Southern California with its social expectations and pressure to look perfect and consumerism.....that's scary to me now.  I will be lost.

But the more I am lost, the more I will find.  The more I lose, the more I will gain.  The less I am comfortable, the more I will find real contentment. 

If life were stable, I'd never need God's help.  Since it's not, I reach out for Him regularly.  I am thankful for the unknowns and that I don't have control, because it makes me run for God.  (Francis Chan)

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