Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Time spent...Time wasted?

This may surprise you, but summer in Egypt is not much different than anywhere else in the world. School is off, traffic is less predictable, and it is HOT, really hot. Okay, so our traffic and heat scales are more intense, but summer is still summer.

This summer, rather than head off to visit my family in the states, some of them came to me. ☺ After an incredible 3 weeks of intense travel and touring, I kissed them goodbye, and CRASHED. Exhausted on so many levels, my body, mind, and spirit were screaming for rest. And I knew I owed that to myself.

In reality, I don’t generally prefer long periods of time without official work. I get bored, longing for a “purpose” for my days, which I am sure is tied to some realm of insecurity of “needing to be needed.” HA! But that’s for another blog. Truthfully, not having a 40 hr week job lined up for this summer terrified me! So even before school was out, I went to work scheduling some random trips to the Red Sea, and agreed to some teacher trainings and other service projects. The initial point was to be “useful”…but for whatever reason, motivation of being productive was disappearing…daily.

I actually have found the relaxing part of summer to be kind of addictive, and I think I am taking it a little far. Sleeping in is a rare treat, and I quickly realized that my mornings were primarily consisting of coffee and marathon segments of trashy reality tv that I have gotten sucked into online (nope, not naming the show ☺). Around noon, I would fumble around my flat, looking for something “productive to do” to ease my guilty conscience: finish a book, journal, catch up on some emails, or organize my budget. However, my motivation for even these small tasks began to dwindle, and my comfy corner chair became my daily buddy. Uh Oh…
Even the thought of getting dressed to go meet with friends seemed exhausting. Why?

I know what many of you are thinking… “It’s summer Christy, chill…don’t be so hard on yourself….you deserve to do nothing.” And that is exactly what I chanted to myself over and over in my mind, as feelings of conviction continued to penetrate…and wouldn’t go away. Crap. The reason I was repeatedly having to defend my actions should have been my first clue that I was being lazy, stealing precious time. So, I finally agreed to face this mental battle, and just reflect on what was bothering me. Truthfully, I didn't want to admit that I couldn’t just enjoy a lazy summer…

Looking back at my journal entries from a couple of months ago, I noticed something…a pattern. Over the course of recent entries, I had listed goals for my last 6 months in Egypt. On several occasions I mentioned the Spirit speaking to me specifically about not falling into the pattern of laziness. Ugh. I found detailed notes to myself of not wasting this time, spending it intentionally…not just in service, but in personal growth through consistent reflection. Allow me to explain further.

I live alone, and I LOVE IT. For the first time in my life, I have created a little oasis of space that I don’t have to share with anyone (and it’s pretty cute too). People constantly told me that I would hate not having a roommate, but I don’t think I have ever been happier in my living situation. Cairo is a MESS in every sense of the word, and coming home to a serene environment of silence, couldn’t be a better situation for my mental health. I am usually drained physically, mentally, and emotionally (and occasionally spiritually) upon my arrival home daily…I CRAVE peace…and probably ultimately, some sense of control (which I check at the door).

Secondly, I am single, thus allowing me to pour all my energy into the most important relationship I have, my relationship with my Creator. However, I would not say this has necessarily been the case.

This is my time. In five months I will be returning to the states to rest, and work through what I am going to do next. But I shouldn't waste the present or spend time obsessing about what is coming up, it’s not my issue, the Lord will work through it with me at the right time. My responsibility is actually quite simple. Deal with "now." Spending time reconnecting with my family and friends will be my number one priority, and I look upon this time ahead with great anticipation. But if I am not careful, I am going miss my present purpose.

My “full time workload” will get super intense beginning in September, thus making it all the more essential for these next six weeks to be spent wisely. I have been brought here for a very specific purpose, and I can't be a selfish is wasting the opportunities given to me everyday... or even just the chance to be quiet, reflect, and learn. I can't fall into the summer trap of "lazy"..it's just not my choice to make. There would be severe consequences, and I am not willing to deal with those, plain and simple. I know that is a pretty concrete statement, and in honesty, it’s one I have been fighting with for a while. It could be viewed as legalistic, or obsessive in some ways, but I can’t ignore that living lazily in the flesh will only produce regret. I have to be intentional, even in my relaxation. Ugh.

Many have heard me state repeatedly that there is no doubt in my mind that I was brought to Egypt for the primary purpose of getting a wake up call...on so many levels, in so many areas of my life. Egypt has saved me, and I will remember it fondly for playing that critical role. Being here has begun an intense transformation that has been painful, but serious in my personal walk. It is evident to me that God has granted me this opportunity of freedom, and He expects me to use it constructively, not throw it away. In being intentional with my time, I am serving myself better than if I planned my days based on how I felt.
It’s not up to me.

Ultimately I desire to marry, working alongside my husband, raising a family. But right now, I am choosing to look at the positive side of not being tied to those relationships. Other than my projects here in Egypt, I am free. Since being in Cairo, and the influence of some great friends back home, I have picked up the habit of reading. WOW, why have I not been doing this all along? There is SO MUCH to learn (and of course a lot of trash out there too, so I need to be careful). But I am thrilled to have discovered reading…seriously, had no idea ☺ My list keeps growing, and I have yet to be disappointed with the books I find myself with. The expat world in Cairo has done a fabulous job of passing good reads along to one another. Also, my mama sends me packages with great books! No, I don't download things to read, I am kind of old fashioned in the sense of actually turning real life pages.

I can’t assume that I will ever be in a place in my life like this again. Therefore I must make the most of it now using my days well, even if I don't end up leaving the flat (or getting dressed). HA. It would be discouraging to look back on a day knowing it was spent pouring garbage into my head. But truthfully, it's fun to zone out watching silly shows after a long day. I don't think there is anything wrong with this, the struggle comes when it takes priority, and important tasks get put off.

Most people do not have the time to spend living life this way and would love this freedom…so I am trying to be careful, thankful, really thinking through how to use it, but at the same time, not drive myself crazy in obsessing about it either. I mean, I still plan on going to movies, watching tv, having moments of nothing and chillin…but it has to be controlled. Since right now, all I have to worry about is taking care of myself, no kids, no husband, just me... then I really have no excuse...discipline is key here.

There is no doubt in my mind that sometime in my future, I will look back on my time in Egypt of living alone, enjoying silence, and think to myself “Wow…wish I had that freedom back.”