I was recently accused of being one of those persons who makes lemonade out of lemons. While I am flattered by this distinction, I feel, for the sake of full disclosure, that I may have misrepresented myself here in this blog. The danger of the Internet is that one can paint oneself into whatever portrait they like in print. It is not my intention to give the reader the idea that I am always optimistic about life, making the best of any and all situations I find myself in. Quite the opposite.
You see, it has been a continual pity party around here, where I am always the guest of honor. This is not the "sulk quietly in the bedroom, alone" kind of pity party. Oh, no!-- I invite, nay, require all of my family members to attend and partake in my suffering. It is only later, when I am seated at my computer, safely distanced from the day's events, that I am able to put some perspective on things.
It is by the grace of God alone that I am able to see the blessings in my difficulties. I am continually amazed that He allows me; unworthy, ungrateful creature that I am, to spy these glimpses of goodness in my life, despite my strongest efforts to see only the negative. (Tom says I can see the dark cloud in every silver lining.)
Let me give you an example: We were invited to 2 barbecues over the weekend. The food was fantastic, the atmosphere comfortable and beautiful, and the people were attentive and gracious. However, I focused on the fact that I could not communicate adequately my thanks to the hosts, or join in the chit-chat of the women. I felt sorry for myself--I felt alone (yet I was surrounded by friends!), I was mute (when I LOVE to talk!), I was worried about the children (they were having a wonderful time!).
Later, as I was writing about the events in my journal, I remembered the kind old man-- the one who spoke a little English-- who tried to talk to me every time he saw me sitting apart. I could tell that it was a strain for him to think and speak in English, but I felt his compassion for me as he did. I thought of the women who tried so hard to include me in conversation, even when they knew only a handful of words in my tongue. I contrasted that with my own actions; those of feeling it was too hard or too scary to try and formulate my thoughts into Portuguese. I thought of the generosity of strangers in having us in their home, sharing their bounty. I thought about new friends, reaching out to make us feel welcome; in their words, "only doing what they hoped others would do for them in similar circumstances." This is where the blessings begin to flow in. This is when I start to see the virtues of those lemons.
And then... I forget it all the next day when I get lost in the city, when I can't find what I'm looking for in the grocery store, when I have to communicate with the repair man. Life is so haaaard! It's too impossibly hard!! I can't do this! Not for a whole year! I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss my air conditioning, I miss my garbage disposal, I miss my "normal"! (Weeping! and wailing! and gnashing of teeth!)
And then I write about my wrong turns, the strange products for sale, the fragmented "communication", and I realize how funny it is. I wouldn't be having these experiences back home. I wouldn't be making these memories. That's when it occurs to me that lemonade is not just sweet--it's also sour; and that's what makes it so good!! So, I am making lemonade! and it's delicious! (And let's be real here--I have pity parties most days back in the States. The only difference here is the exotic locale.) So, I'll continue these "therapy sessions", and hopefully, eventually, I'll learn to taste the sweet-tart goodness of that lemonade before I put my fingers to the keyboard--for the sake of the children. ;)