As I sipped my deliciously pompous coffee whilst eating couscous and sweet potato, I decided that life in Australia wasn't too bad. In fact, it was bloody brilliant. I had coffee. Amazing coffee. I had couscous. Orgasmic couscous.
And my surrounds—the stupendously comfortable Qantas Club Lounge at Sydney International Airport (thanks for the visitor pass Dad) —were what dreams are made of.
I decided then and there that I was NOT flying back to the Philippines. Instead I was going to illegally squat within the Qantas Club Lounge offering whatever services I had at my disposal to maintain permanent residency in what I now deemed to be Heaven (though I did draw the line at bottom wiping services and child minding – that is unless said children could further my attempts to eat copious cupcakes and, of course, couscous at the delicious buffet).
But somewhere between during my fourth helping of food and third coffee (ok, fourth), my flight number boomed from above propelling me on to my feet and into flight embarking mode. Bags instinctively heaved themselves upon my shoulders whilst my feet (which are now referred to as traitors) paced mechanically towards the congested and chaotic terminal.
My body had clearly betrayed me as it swiftly moved towards my somewhat conflicted existence in Manila and away from my very comfortable life in Australia.
I think, actually I know, it was the first time I boarded a flight dreading its destination.
Obviously I wanted it to land (definitely not mentioning any Airlines by name *cough* *cough* Malaysia)! But I was also fearful that once it did, I would immediately miss every single element, namely food, which I had enjoyed/devoured during my six-week hiatus back home. I didn't feel emotionally ready to endure another difficult year abroad. I was emotionally spent. Bankrupt.
I didn't know if I could take it all again... the frustrations, the congestion, the feelings of helplessness. More than that, I was afraid that once I landed back in Manila, I would begin to resent God. Resent him for calling me to a place that was slowly breaking my spirit. A place that was far from my closest friends and family. A place devoid of beetroot dip, delicious lambs ripe for slaughter and crusty, multi-grain bread—one of life's greatest ingenuities.
I wanted to ask, this time with greater intensity, why I had been called there? And maybe, just maybe, had that time run its course? Had I completed my dutiful Christian/aid worker stint abroad, allowing me finally to come home having 'done' the missionary thing during my twenties?
In all honestly... I don't have an answer yet. No definitive answers or conclusions or resounding illuminations from the heavens. But what I do have is this. Someone (okay, it was my Dad) once told me that a friend was complaining because God wasn't giving them the direction that they so desperately desired. God wasn't giving them answers (burning bushes need not apply). He wasn't dishing out any resolute instructions. He wasn't giving them anything. They had NO SATISFACTION (queue the Rolling Stones please)! Hey, hey, hey! That's what I say!
They were craving something in order to take that leap, to make a step, and choose that passage. So God was either:
a) A big meanie set on ignoring them
b) Stupendously deaf
c) A fervent devotee of the 'selective hearing philosophy' (frequently favoured by 2 to 8 year olds)
d) An Optus subscriber with infuriating signal
OR maybe he was...
e) Playing hard to get (a philosophy also favoured by handsomely bearded Christian men with full sleeve tattoos....whom seem to be playing a rather similar game with yours truly)
Was God any of these things?
Because if God's answers were not a-flowing, then something was amiss. Why wasn't God giving this guy the answers and decisive actions he wanted on demand? Jeeves the butler could totally do it! And we all know that Google replies without fail, pumping out all sorts of retorts to earth shattering questions such as 'How to Sleep?' which Google swiftly answers with 'adjust the lighting'! Can someone say INGENIOUS?
So after this somewhat convoluted tangent, Dad finally said this to me:
"Maybe God does always give us a directive response. Maybe we just need to keep on doing what he asked us to do in the first place and when, and only when, the timing is right, he will tell us to stop. To pick up and try something different. Travel somewhere new. Take up a new profession. Who knows?"
Figuring it all out
Maybe we try so hard—and by 'we', I actually mean 'I'— to figure out what God actually wants us to be doing or where to be planted, that we miss the very place that he has consigned us to. Maybe we are exactly where we need to be now. And we have to be okay with that. Actually, more than okay. We need to thank him for it.
And yes, sometimes that place or that posture may be hard and full of complications and sadly, minimal dairy products. But it is the exact place that God wants you to be in. And if that's where God wants you, than it can't be all that bad, can it?
Seasons come and go. Some lonely, some joyous, some ridiculously confusing. But if we just keep listening to him. Talking with him and following his commands. Then maybe we don't need to have it all figured out. For God says, "don't worry about tomorrow, as tomorrow will take care of itself."
So why not let God be God, and let go?
Alison Barkley lives in Newcastle and is a post graduate student at Deakin University. Alison is serving in the Philippines with an aid organisation.
Alison Barkley's archive of articles may be viewed atwww.pressserviceinternational.org/alison-barkley.html