mirage: an optical illusion usually in a desert. it creates the false appearance of water in extremely hot environments.
Can't even lie, March was a bit of a push. The toughest month living abroad by far.
6 months down and any resemblance of a honeymoon phase is OVER. Settling into a groove has been challenging. I've found myself having more irritation than peace, more pity parties than gratitude, more doubts than faith and being full of frustration instead of joy.
Many of my days have felt lonely, desolate, and a little dusty. I guess you can say this is my "desert place". Looking to quench the thirst I keep seeming to run to these mirages- only to discover i'm still rather parched.
The mirage of a man.
The mirage of money.
The mirage of my people.
Let me tell you about these 3 and, what I'v learned about the God who sees.
THE MIRAGE OF A MAN
It's no surprise that I desire marriage, and in all honesty I have for a while now. My truest heart's desire is to pursue heavenly purposes with a passionate man of God. Putting my life on hold until that happens has never been an option though. Admittedly, thanks to my FOMO (fear of missing out) I usually make brave moves in pursuit of exciting adventure!
Living abroad alone has magnified my singleness, thus reminding me of the partnership I don't yet have. Obviously a husband comes with much more than merely a MacGyver or Luke Cage set of skills, but let me keep it 100, those skills would be a huge help as I navigate these sometimes intimidating Ugandan streets!
Reaching for a life partner to quench my thirst is a meaningless mirage.
My non-existent love life feels like a hot, sunburnt desert. My past relationships and even situationships all left me with a few temporary highs, but failed to satisfy. Happily married couples will even tell me that a spouse is fantastic, but they do not quench the soul the way most fantasize. These are all things I've known in my head, but now really have a lived experience with.
THE MIRAGE OF MONEY
Working in Kampala as a missionary teacher means that my income is bare bones. Since I graduated from an overpriced private Christian University, Salle Mae basically owns me, and all my shillings are sent overseas to cover those debts. #WinningOrNa?
My move abroad was one in total faith. It never made "sense" from the beginning. Several people told me that quitting my "good" job in Long Beach, leaving my car behind, breaking my lease early, giving away all of my possessions and heading to Africa at 30 years old was a bit of a career suicide. This clearly didn't stop me. I knew that the call God placed on my life was greater than what I was sacrificing on the journey.
Lately I started to feel the absence of my fat paycheck, & really missing the extra cash my hair braiding side hustle would bring. The financial squeeze had me in an actual panic unsure if I'd made the right choice in the first place. All of these wanna-be sophisticated worries showed up in my face starring me down like Kermit sippin’ his sweet tea. Am I being financially irresponsible? Am I "adulting" the way I should?
Stressing & striving to earn more money has been yet another unfulfilling mirage.
The reality is all of my needs are met. I absolutely LOVE teaching, and have never been forsaken or begging for bread. Things might be tight right now, but God has kept His end of the deal. Besides, we all know that money does not quench the soul the way most fantasize.
THE MIRAGE OF MY PEOPLE
"Well, I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, spent some of my childhood in Jamaica, then the last 8 years in Los Angeles, CA. I've lived in Uganda for the past 6 months. My ancestors are West African but not sure which country(s) exactly... ya know, slavery..?". When people ask where I am from, it's a complicated answer these days. Although i've lived in different places growing up, I developed an incredible friend group, and solid community in California.
In my featured blog I wrote last month, Belonging: An African American in Africa, I write about the challenge it's been to find meaningful connections here in Uganda. I miss my girls like crazy. "My people" aren't here so therefore i'd resolved to remain inevitably disconnected, isolated and lonely until I returned back to the States to my "real friends" who truly understood me.
Obsessing over finding perfect, meaningful human connections has also been a mirage.
While my closest friends are awesome, I cannot rely on any human relationships to completely satisfy. The reality is God has planted me in such a loving work community here in Kampala with potential to establish new authentic connections. I've been particularly blessed to recently have meet a wonderful couple here. They've welcomed me into their lives and lavished such timely familial love! God once again has kept His word. He has set the lonely (ya girl) in a family (Psalm 68:6). He has proven to be the greatest friend of all!
I use the term mirage loosely. Obviously a life partner, money and community are all very real, value added things that I do pray to attract and cultivate in my lifetime.
I guess the truth i'm slowly swallowing is that all three are only splashes of satiation in life's desert-like environments. They cannot be my top priority. They are awesome, but will never lead to true fulfillment.
My "rain" & true water source must come from a well that doesn't run dry. Jesus.
"And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58:11 NASB
THE GOD WHO SEES
My dear Aunt Bubbles, ya'll know her as Nicole C. Mullen, recently released a breathtaking collab with Kathie Lee Gifford called, The God Who Sees. Let me just say- this song was right on time, just for meeee!! #YasAuntie
It's lyrics tell the story of people in the Bible who were also in their desert moments. Brought to their knees. Not necessarily in some spiritual prayer session, but perhaps in a pool of their own tears. Perhaps they were drawn to their knees bearing the same weight of despair that i've found myself in the past month. The plot twist of each and every desert account was this beautiful reality that the God who sees was there! He was not only present in the lowest moments, He also made strength & beautiful out of that space.
This song encouraged me to remember that God sees. Although I feel like it sometimes, I am NOT forsaken. HE is the living water! My rescuer. My present help. My provision. My friend. It's hot out here (literally and metaphorically ha!), but this desert is a blessing. God is moving everything and everyone that must go in order for me to see HIM clearer. It's not over.
Please take 12 mins to let yourself experience the blessing that is this visually pleasing, soul nurturing, faith rekindling musical film. Be lifted and share with someone else who may need a splash of hope.
-xoxo Melody Amber