I’ve been exhausted the past couple of weeks so last night I intentionally went to bed early. Ninety minutes later, however, I was still awake, having lain in bed thinking up a wide range of social scenarios and rehearsing German dialogue, should I ever find myself in such circumstances. But this delay in falling asleep is not a new dilemma; instead, a familiar nuisance that has been repeating itself since the turn of the year.
Immersion in a new language is considered to be one of the best ways to learn. But immersion can also feel like drowning. It is very difficult to come up for air when everything around me is in German: from daily four-hour-long language classes, group conversations, and Bible studies, to letters from the bank, public announcements, text messages from new friends, and everything in between. Every routine simplicity now takes a great deal more time and effort. And it’s exhausting. Mentally exhausting.
It’s hard to move to a new country, to adopt a new culture and to familiarise yourself with new government rules and legislation.
It’s hard to learn a new language. It’s hard to be immersed in a foreign language and feel like every day is a school day with an unrelenting demand to exercise the new language.
It’s hard to build a new friendship group from scratch. It’s hard to be so far away from friends and family in whom you have invested for a lifetime.
It’s hard not having a steady income to rely upon, or, indeed, the basic language skills to acquire one.
The mental strain can feel relentless: headaches, tiredness, a weakened ability to focus and to process are just some of the symptoms I battle regularly.
All these things are hard. But it is even harder for me to contemplate a life outside of God’s very best for me. I seek not only to survive, but to thrive. I want a full and abundant life (John 10:10) and to enter fully into the adventure that God has prepared for me. I want to walk in complete obedience to Him. I want my faith to be tested, for without a test there can be no testimony. And I want the testimonies of what God does in my life to encourage others in their walk with God, and to inspire them to pray bigger prayers, dream bigger dreams, and to take greater risks in faith.
So I have to choose my hard. I have a choice to choose whether the challenges I currently face are worth it, or whether I would rather opt for less than God’s best for me, forever feeling just a little under-fulfilled, a little under-satisfied, with many of my dreams unrealised.
I may choose the greater hard, but the greater hard comes with God’s help, His grace, and His guidance. Better yet, the greater hard promises adventure and purpose and miracles!
I have chosen my hard. And as challenging as it can be, I’m having the time of my life and wouldn’t change a thing! Everyday is an adventure, and an opportunity for me to depend on God’s grace once again. Every week brings new challenges and surprises, revealing more of God’s character and His love for mankind. I love it! This is the adventure I want to live. I choose this hard.