Not too long ago, I recounted my maddening French day to my husband who then detailed to an acquaintance of ours. She said, quite matter-of-factly, “Oh, tell her she’s had an IHF day.”
“What?” my husband asked.
“IHF. I hate France,” as if that was all the explanation needed.
And it was.
I had another IHF day yesterday. The day wasn’t chock full of attempting twenty things and getting one done. It wasn’t riddled with typical shopping frustrations. I was even able to order a decent lunch in French. I guess it was just the cumulation of sixty days in this culture–of little things piled and piled atop one another until I just wanted to SCREAM.
I was tired. I was lonely. I was weary of being the only French speaker in my home (which means that even though I have completed education through a Bachelor’s degree, I am having to revisit homework). Every night, I am trying to translate French Geometry terms, read an incoherent novel to my son about a strange monster called a Mistouflon who is sick and looking for his beloved Mistouflette, and attempt to understand my daughter’s math book Picbille about this odd looking bug who performs mathematical equations.
The problem is, I never learned mathematical or monster words in French class. And, my last French class is tucked behind cobwebs in my brain–nearly sixteen years ago! Oh how my brain hurts! And oh how weary I’ve become of homework!
Couple that with feeling out of place, with not having deep relationships (that will come in time, I know), with feeling scattered and distracted, and I was beaten.
I thank the Lord I reached for the phone and called my friend Sandi. She listened. Her ear was what picked me up, dusted me off, and set my feet aright. She wept and prayed. She heard me. She empathized. She loved me well.
It’s true that stress and worry and heartache and change are best faced in the context of relational community. My IHF day turned into a bittersweet longing for home. It’s not that I hate France. I don’t. It’s just that I miss my life. I miss my friends. I miss my routine. I miss familiarity. I miss Reeses Peanut Butter Cups!
Below this post is a picture of a church steeple just ten minutes from us. It reminds me that we are here for a reason. That the sacrifice and pain are worth it. For the sake of Jesus Christ, who had to leave the perfection of heaven for the dusty roads of earth, I will endure. I am reminded of this empathetic verse:
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Jesus understands my weakness. He understands what it is like to live in a strange place. He knows ridicule. He watched His children suffer. He suffered. Therefore, He is readily able to come to my rescue, dust me off, and give me amazing grace.
Even on an IHF day.