I've been thinking this evening about "getting ahead" and what it means. Hopefully, when we say this we're just referring to common sense planning with money and trying to do what we can with what we have. Maybe, because I just taught English for 2 hours, I'm just taking apart an old expression. But I'm wondering...
What are we trying to get ahead of?
Hopefully it's not other people! Everyone knows comparison is not wise, even though we all do it... with having a business, a baby, or a spare bedroom. But most people aren't trying to live to get ahead of others.
And hopefully it's not trying to get ahead of God. We all know what happened to the Tower of Babel Builders.
I feel like I'd just like to get ahead of simple things... like car repairs and leaky kitchen sinks, and dirty laundry and you know... be ready for more important things... like owning our own home or starting a family someday.
But maybe I'm not really ready to just flow with the seasons of life, especially life in Haiti. I'm a few weeks from my first anniversary, and I already know that the problems you worry about aren't usually the problems you have. You can plan all you want, and think you're "ahead of the game" but then the country goes upside down just a bit more, or you have a breakdown and another breakdown, or someone doesn't do exactly what you thought they would, and you can feel quite bumfuzzled.
And maybe you just aren't ready for a season of not being able to buy gas, unless it's in little cans on the street at a high price, or unless you want to sit and wait at a pump for hours to see if they'll give some out that day. Maybe you aren't ok with a season of just staying home and cooking simple food, a season of not really seeing and doing all that much outside your walls. You want every season to be full of life and beauty and visible growth. But you get hurricanes, or dry, windy spells.
And maybe also, you don't believe in good surprises. Maybe you just believe in the bad surprises. Because life does bring those to everybody. But in the end, God, as the perfect Father, is a giver at heart. And maybe you focus on the things you thought were good that didn't ever happen... when you should focus on the things that maybe seemed like they were going to be bad, but turned into something just pretty nice.
A few weeks ago, we finally made an appointment to see an attorney who had contacted us to give English classes at his office. We have quite a few vehicles on our yard. But, all three were broken down, and 1 moto has lost papers so can't go anywhere there will be police checks, and the other was out of gas. The gas situation was even worse right then... as in it was impossible to find. We picked the car that didn't have a wheel off or an engine taken out at that point, and set out toward Delmas. The further you get up there, the steeper and narrower the roads are, and the transmission was going out on the car and we had no power and it wouldn't shift past 2nd or 3rd gear. So we putted along, and one hill I just knew we weren't going to make it up. So I prayed... all the way up, as the engine strained, that this would be our sign. It seemed like such a far out job for me to take, but if we got to the top of the hill, I told God I would try. And we made it. Sat in the fancy lobby of the Marriott hotel and chatted with a very nice man, agreed on a price, and a start date of less than a week from then.
It has been a far out job. I have learned Spanish and Kreyol in my life... but not from studying a book. And I've taught someone to read, but only a child. Thankfully Zeze has taken a lot of English lessons, and also given a lot himself, and all and all probably has four times as much teaching experience as me. So they hired me, and I humbled myself and spent a good bit of time explaining to my husband how unconfident and clueless I actually felt, and then went and taught. And asked him how I did and tried (only somewhat successfully) to not feel defensive when he gave kind suggestions. Today was the fourth class. And no, I don't know how to explain the difference between moist and damp, and why you don't moisturize your clothes before ironing instead of get them damp. It's exhausting to speak that slowly for 2 hours, and explain how to pronounce sounds you don't remember ever having to learn yourself.
But I see this job as a gift. Maybe it will help us "get ahead." Or maybe that was never the point. Maybe God's plan isn't for us to "get ahead." Maybe he wants is to give up on that, and just "get content."
So, if you're going through a time when you just can't seem to "get ahead," I hope that some night you find yourself where I am, outside on a porch lit by twinkle lights, listening to the church service next door and another neighbor's faint music, wind blowing my hair a bit, a skinny black and white cat washing herself on my lap, content to be in the moment. Not ahead or behind. Just anticipating my husband being home soon, hopefully bearing cartons of the spiciest, crunchiest pica pollo (fried chicken) in Port au Prince. And willing to start it all over again tomorrow.