Saturday, November 12, 2011

Settled in UnSettled

This week one of my SI friends asked me how I was doing.  As I described feeling out of sorts she said, It sounds like you’re settled in Unsettled.  Unsettled is one of the stages along the Transition Bridge which everyone leaving their ‘home’ culture, and entering another, experiences (to some degree or other).

Unsettled makes me think of my couch.  I’ve mentioned before that when I moved into my furnished apartment, the places to sit were four very straight-backed wooden kitchen chairs and four wooden rocking chairs. 
I have good posture (thank you, Mom!) and prefer sitting up straight, but even for me the chairs were too upright.  And the rocking chairs?  Quaint, but not great for curling up with a good book! 
So, I bought a couch.  I posted a picture in an earlier post, and I think you’ll agree, it looks okay, with plenty of cushions.  Sure, the pattern isn’t anything I would have gone out of my way to pick, but it was the only one I found in my price-range!  Still, it's not bad.
Sit down on it, however, and you quickly realize that the pastel tapestry is wrapped around what feels like a hard rectangle of unyielding foam.  Attempting a light bouncing up and down is futile.  The first few times I used my couch were jarring, to say the least! 
Just looking at it, nothing cautions sitting will result in a ‘thud’.  The fact is, there’s no need for a warning, because this is just how couches here are made.
Unsettled.  I re-read some of my notes about this stage.  It’s a time of loss and grief as old ties are severed, and familiar ways of doing things no longer work.  It is exhausting and frustrating to feel as if none of the ‘rules’ that worked back home work here. 
There are no signs or warnings since everyone from here knows how stuff goes.  And, the thuds that come from bumping up against all the new rules are also jarring! 
When Dona Gloria stopped up one day and felt my couch, she declared it 'comodo'  (comfortable).  The ones in her home are just as stiff, (although prettier!)  Her visiting family members sit right down and happily continue their energetic conversations, seeming not to have the slightest problem with them.
Like Dona Gloria and my couch, it is important for me to realized that people here see their way of doing things as being as nature and sensible (and comfortable!) as I do of my culture.  In fact, it’s likely Dona Gloria would consider my old overstuffed couch and loveseat too soft, and therefore, uncomfortable!
Of course, Unsettled can also be a time of excitement and healthy stretching.  As I climb out of my rut (or really, am tossed out, airborn and flailing!), the Holy Spirit invites me to see a broader, deeper, bigger understanding of God come into view.  As Jesus meets me in this season where nothing is what I expect, my trust and faith in His ability to supply ALL my needs can grow.
Last night, as I relaxed and read a fluffy mystery, I settled onto my couch… and it didn’t feel nearly as hard as when I first bought it.  I realize that the brick of foam may be wearing down in the spot where I typically sit!  But, I also think I’m getting accustomed to it.  I've even managed to take a nap on it, something I didn't think would be possible!
Bit by bit I will move out of Unsettled.  Yes, I’d love to rush through it, but that’s not how it works.  The reality is, what’s on the other side of UnSettled is not feeling better, but actually feeling worse for a while. 
Chaos.  If I ‘do’ Unsettled well, (allowing the Holy Spirit to work in me and through me), when I head into Chaos (and there’s no avoiding it!) I will be more prepared than if I did not go through this time. 
So, for now, I am praying for grace – and a sense of humor!  I am praying for eyes to see more and more of God’s bigness.  And, I am praying for the grace to be Settled in UnSettled. 

1 comment:

  1. Well said, my friend. Thanks for the reminders as I'm going through some Unsettled stuff in Uganda as well. Love you!