Holiday season number two as expats is full on for Barr and I. Another year living abroad has been full the highest highs and unfortunately, the lowest low – though the “ups” far exceed any down(s). We’ve been blessed beyond measure to explore our collective dream and desire to live and work overseas, experiencing new cultures, traveling to unique countries, meeting some lifelong friends, and leaning on each other and God to get through the hard times and celebrate the joyous moments.
And even though we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving (albeit a few days late and with an absurdly expensive turkey), I wanted to take a post to reflect on that which I am truly thankful for.
- I am thankful for my husband. Without question, this expat life wouldn’t have been possible without him; he works incredibly hard each and every day (weekends included!) to make this dream a reality. He is my best friend, my constant support, and my shoulder to cry on. He’s there for me when friendships don’t pan out, when I’m homesick, and when I’m stressed or angry (even at him) – and he’s there for those good times, too: travel adventures, quieter nights at home or going to a movie, and planning a big, full life together. He pushes me when I want to give up or when I need a dose of reality. He encourages me to be a better “Abby” and to pursue my hopes and dreams. I am thankful for Barr.
- I am thankful for living outside my comfort zone. There are so many times in any given week that I just wish I could turn on American television, purchase a box of cereal that isn’t $7, not fret about finances (and my lack of contribution to the aforementioned), stressing about where we will live 4 weeks from any given day, or worrying about reacclimating to life back in the states, but none of these thoughts even come close to the unadulterated happiness and gratitude I feel to living as a citizen of the world. Living without total control. Living in lesser known parts of the world. Writing instead of working a 9-5 job. Starting over, several times over. 😉
- I am thankful for gaining new perspectives. It’s been incredibly enlightening and refreshing to realize what you can live with (and without). As an expat, depending on the city you live in, you may not have a large (or particularly nice) dwelling. Or you own furniture. You may have to learn to take public transportation everywhere. You definitely learn that although English, for the part part, is spoken or slightly understood in many parts of the world, it’s not the English you may be used to – and this means communicating differently or just understanding that what you know isn’t necessarily the norm. I’m grateful to know that I can live without so much stuff, so much space, “my dream kitchen”, a car, English, a Starbucks on every corner. Maybe this one sounds trite, but I hope to return to the states and apply this mentality to the “me, me, me” “more, more, more” or “keeping up with the Jones'” attitude that I can sometimes adopt.
- I am thankful for God’s plan. I like things done my way in my time – I’m not proud of this…at all, but if these last 18 months of expat life has taught me anything, it is that this isn’t the Abby show. Though I may try, I cannot control everything in my life, and just because I think that something is “ideal timing”, I don’t know best. Life throws you for a loop sometimes and you (I) have to let go. There have been some humbling events from our expat life that show me that there is a planner here, and it’s not me. This is the hardest thing to say (well, type), but I am thankful for His plan, even when it doesn’t align with mine. It’s finding the beauty and the good bits in dark times and understanding that you wouldn’t have those revelations if you hadn’t been through the tougher stuff – and knowing that it’s all part of His bigger plan. He knows the plans for me and I am thankful that it is one with hope.
Another important one is my gratitude for writing and specifically blogging. I so appreciate y’all (or even if it’s just my mom) reading and commenting. Happiest of Thanksgiving! And even if you don’t celebrate, remind yourself of the many blessings in your life – any day is a good day for that. Until next time…