Tag Archive | Adjusting to a new country

Life Comes Full Circle


“Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.” ~Author Unknown

In life there are no guarantees…You’ll never know unless you try…It’s better to try than live with regret…What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. All clichés that gained their status because people like me needed to be told the same thing over and over again to spur them into making some sort of decision. Despite me knowing that nothing is more uncertain than life itself, I search for guarantees when making a decision. Even though I know that trying your hand at something with the threat of failing is better than never having tried at all, I sit terrified at the thought of venturing outside my comfort zone. All the while forgetting that this too was once a vague dream that I never thought possible. Forgetting that my life has been filled with leaps of faith that not only worked out just fine, but also brought me some of the greatest milestones in my life. Knowing all I know, why then is it so hard to make a decision and stick with it?

Up until now I have never really thought about it feels like and whether you see it ahead of time when your life is coming back full circle. A picture of an athlete running on a track appears in my mind and I wonder, were it for the markings that demarcate the start and finish line would he know when he has completed a full circle? Would he know he has run the distance he is required to run or would he just keep running until he wore himself out? As I sit thinking of my life and routes that lie ahead, I wonder what more needs to be done to make it clear that I need to stop running. My legs are weary, they feel like they will give in at any minute now, I know I have run the best race I could have run, I know up ahead lies the finishing point, besides a physical barricade to stop me from running further what more am I looking for?

This time last year an ongoing debate raged in my mind about whether making the move to Scotland, and leaving behind all that was familiar to me, was the right thing to do. Similar to where I stand right now, my mind was almost made up but the doubt still loomed and everything within me trembled at the thought of the journey that lay ahead. How could I not tremble? Up until last August I did not even own a passport let alone had experience of setting foot on any soil beyond the borders of South Africa. Even though I had applied for a job here and things looked promising, I still found it hard to believe that I was going to end up here. It didn’t help matters much that the process was riddled with problems and I ended up only arriving here in December as opposed to September as originally planned.

A year later, here I sit with yet another battle raging in my mind bearing an uncanny resemblance to “The Battle of 2010”. Similar to last year, I am unsettled in my life and I feel I have lost my bearings. As much as it makes me sad to say this but I really do not feel like I belong here, I belong back in South Africa, among my own people. Which all seems somewhat strange to me because I had the same feeling of not belonging in South Africa a year ago. As much as people would like to lead me to believe that this should all be written off as random ramblings of a schizophrenic mind, I have enough faith in my God-given senses to know better. Do I listen to the part of me that says going back is the right thing to do, it will bring me peace and reunite me with the life I built for twenty-five years? Do I silence these thoughts and listen to the part of me that says I am making the wrong career move, I am giving up a great opportunity and all I am is just being a quitter right now?

While it might be true that I have not accomplished all that I had set out to accomplish by coming here, I feel I have done enough to earn an A for effort! Whilst I have not progressed up the ladder as planned nor have I travelled around Europe, as was my primary non-work goal when I moved here, I still feel it is time for me to go home. It brings me great sadness to know that I did not do these things and it makes me feel like I have let not only myself down, but also my supporters who were standing on the sidelines cheering me on. While at times it feels like I am quitting on this race simply because my legs are cramping and I’m just too tired to attempt taking another step, I know in my heart this is not the case. Why then is my heart riddled with guilt? Why is my heart so sore at the thought of giving this up?

Truth be told, I do not think there is much that I would be giving up by returning home. I would incur a lot of unbudgeted costs yes, but to me the costs to my heart and soul are way higher by staying here. I am a fragment of the woman I used to be, yet two or three sizes heavier. I cannot remember the last time I went to church, an activity which used to be the centre of my life. I walk around numb because after months of suppression my tearducts have staged a protest and refuse to work. I long for the embrace that let’s me know that everything is ok, that I can cry and be vulnerable it’s ok. I have no one who allows me that in that country. I might have more than I did when I was in South Africa but life feels emptier than it has ever been.

I will not lie and say being here is not a fantastic opportunity because it is. If it wasn’t I would not be torn by giving it up. We often hear people say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In as much as I agree with this, I also think there comes a point when the hardships that you go through only succeed in making you hardened. There also comes a point where you need to stand up and say enough is enough, I refuse to go through this again. Let’s face it, we can only keep growing stronger to a limited point and after that what didn’t kill you will eventually kill you. The human body was never designed to be immortal and I think we tend to forget that at times. Which makes me wonder then; what good will a brilliant CV do for me when I am dead?

Knowing all I know, having rationalised, gone back and forth and held numerous discussions with numerous people on either side of the ocean, why does this whole situation still seem so hard? Why am I filled with so much doubt? Why do I still feel like I’m looking for affirmation that I am not messing up my life even further?

I would be naive if I believed that the decision would be easy from this point on. It would certainly show that I have no understanding for my own character if I thought I would stop doubting myself now that I have processed and laid out my thought process because let’s face it, that is not about to happen. At this point all I can do to silence voices in my head is just pray. Pray that my heart is in line with God’s will for my life and I will not be shamed in His eyes by the path I choose to follow.

Unpaid Dues


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18

For the past few weeks I have been struggling to write, I have worked on two posts and abandoned them halfway because they just didn’t feel right or I just didn’t know what to say anymore. I have spent more time reflecting on my life these past two months than I have possibly in my entire life and it all boils down to me asking God, “Have I not paid my dues yet? I thought Edinburgh was about me getting a well deserved fresh start, one that is debt free?” For weeks I have gone back and forth with differing versions of these questions and I have not found a satisfactory answer. Well, until now that is.

I came to Edinburgh eager to learn, eager to gain valuable experience that would catapult my career when I eventually returned home. My stay here was supposed to be about building my relationship with God, serving Him and furthering His kingdom. Edinburgh was supposed to be the city where I finally found my happiness, where I was settled in my career, love life and finances. I didn’t care that I was forgoing a third of the salary I was worth at home. I didn’t care that I was giving up the title that I had earned after paying my dues through my five years of university, three years of training and two qualifying board exams to my name. I’d paid my dues and was ready for the next level. I’d worked hard to get to that point in my life and went through so much, had my decisions questioned by friends, colleagues and sadly family. Scotland was supposed to be the answer to my prayers, I was on the verge of my breakthrough. Life was about to get a whole lot better, easier and happier. So I thought.

It’s been three months, seven days and nine hours since I left the comfort of South African soil. It will be a month and ten days till I set foot on that soil again. I wonder though, do I have the strength and heart to get back on a plane and leave my home and come back here? Can I move on from the three months and particularly the last two? Will I able to see past the pain, the frustration, the self-doubt and the heartbreak that I have felt in the past two months? To be honest the answer to that question, which I ask myself more than twenty times in any given day, is probably not. Undoubtedly this  could be the answer to the question why I haven’t booked my flights home. Put simply, I still do not know with unwavering certainty whether I am buying a return or a one way ticket.

So what’s changed while I have been here? What is driving me away from the beauty of Edinburgh, with its picture-perfect old buildings, cobblestone streets, breathtaking views of the castle and city’s travel connectivity to Europe? It isn’t the strangeness of celebrating my birthday in the dead of winter when twenty-five of my past birthdays were in the glorious summer sun. It isn’t the bitter cold that had me wearing thermals, at least three layers of clothes, a scarf, thermal gloves and ear-muffs when I first arrived because in about a month that had been stripped down to just three layers when outside and two for indoors. It hasn’t been the loneliness and pain of being away from my family and my closest friends because firstly, I lived 1300km away from my family for five years and secondly thanks to BBM, Facebook, Skype and other technology, I speak to my at least two of my closest family members and friends every single day.  What has broken my spirit is this feeling that I am not supposed to be going through what I’m going through because I have already paid my dues.

Plans I made, expectations I had and visions of my life here, couldn’t be further from what I am experiencing now.  My heart really cannot understand why God, in all His mercy and love, would demand that I continue to pay a debt that I think I settled a long time ago. Surely after two major heart breaks and investing eight years in relationships that left me in devastation, I had earned more than the deafening silence that I come home to and the anguish of loneliness and longing for a companion? Surely with a total of eight years of training I had earned the right to not be made to feel like I don’t know what I am doing and not to be treated in a manner reminiscent of my second year of articles? It would certainly bother me less if I’d been put back a year, but two? Really? Does being part of one of approximately 26 000 professionals in South Africa with my title really buy me the ridiculous hours, the numerous nights crying out of sheer frustration of what I still needed to get through? Seeing as how hard I work for my money, how hard I worked in school and university so that I can get the scholarship to see me through university so that I can study and pass and become the professional I am today, do I now owe a debt to everyone else around me? Is it not enough that I am still paying off my debts incurred when I was still earning barely enough to get by? When will God look at me and say that I have paid my dues, I have endured enough it is time to lighten the load? I do not even ask that it be removed completely. I just ask for it to be a little lighter.

Today as I was entered my flat, it finally hit me….you can never say you have fully paid your dues and have earned the right to not go through a particular problem. Suffering in whatever way or form is part of the human experience and I don’t think it will end while we are on this earth. I am always in awe when I think of what Jesus was going through the last few hours before the crucifixion. What greater pain can there be than knowing you are about to die, a very painful and humiliating death? I cannot even start to comprehend what it must have taken for Him to finally say in Matthew 26:38, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…” What I find completely humbling and very admirable is that minutes later in Matthew 26:39 He says to God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” In as much as Jesus had the authority and ability to not go through the crucifixion and to be raised to heaven to be with His Father, He submitted Himself to His Father’s will and endured through and paid the ultimate debt for all of us.

I often have to remind myself that the Bible is not a multiple choice book, where you can pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe and more importantly what to obey and what not to obey.  Therefore I need to obey 2 Corinthians 4:17 and realise that not only are my problems light and momentary but they are doing the very important job of “achieving eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” I have often said in my posts that I would love to be like the two servants in the Parable of Talents in Matthew 25: 14-28 who pleased their master and used what they had been entrusted with wisely. To one day go home and have God say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” would be the ultimate eternal glory.

I now realise that I am very far from paying my dues and that I need to submit to God’s will as painful, hard and confusing as it might be at times. I never made the decision to come here alone. I consulted heavily with God and in my heart, when I wade past the confusion and frustration I still know that I am where He wants me to be. For that reason, though my vision may be blurred by tears and my heart riddled with many confusing emotions, I am going to focus my gaze on Him and being His good and faithful servant. That is a debt that is due, not to Him but to myself and will remain unpaid till the day I appear before Him to give an account of my life.