Fighting, Hiding and Adjusting My Sails

Today is one of those days I am choosing to believe (because deep down I do know it) that our choices are for the best and will prove to be fruitful in time. Over the course of this beautiful journey from California to Bahrain, Bahrain to Italy, and all the travel in between, I have learned, or at least am learning, how to challenge change in a staring contest and come out as the winner.

I was born a fighter, just ask my parents. From the time I could talk, I demanded the last word. I argued every decision and challenged every opinion. When faced with opposition, I dug my heels in relentlessly, and my family was convinced I would one day make a great lawyer. On the flip side, when provoked, ridiculed, or denied, I lost my capacity to fight and would either crumble to the ground in tears or seek solace behind a closed door (often one I had slammed). My mode of defense over the years was to fight for what I believed was right (or fight to be right), or to hide behind mind-made walls to keep the hurt from penetrating them.

Those early days in Bahrain, I fought. I fought against sadness and heartache. I struggled against comparisons and cowardice. I battled fear: fear of political uprisings and evacuations; fear of losing the self I had carefully and proudly constructed only to watch my identity disintegrate into a person I did not know and did not like. When I became too exhausted to fight, I hid. I built walls. I closed doors.

I went through the motions for the sake of my family, but I felt cheated. Stripped. Empty. I was simply unable to move forward to a better place, to the joys of experiencing another culture with its riches and diversity, even if it was a culture I dearly loved. I could see all that was good outside of my barricades, but I couldn’t get out to appreciate and relish it.

It was over a year until I took hold of the help and strength God gave me to begin knocking down the walls, facing the necessary pains of change and growth, and allowing the discomfort to produce a greater and more resilient character in me. “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” Romans 5:3-5   

Months later, sitting with Josh during our 5pm “happy hour on the beach”, it dawned on me with such clarity that the person I was yesterday, and the yesterdays before that, wasn’t the person sitting on the beach. Fighting and accepting had transformed me into the person I was meant to be that day–and from then on forward. The person who would better process, face and embrace changes when they were most surely to come again. A person who has learned that building walls, slamming doors and hiding are best left in childhood. (Although, and unfortunately, I do still on occasion find satisfaction in a slammed door!)

As difficult as our move to Italy has been in this first month, I do feel I am indeed the winner this time around. Not one of us will escape change or stormy seas, and I believe the human spirit is capable of extraordinary things and meant for transformation.

 “Facing storms and shipwrecks in our lives really isn’t a matter of if; it is a matter of when.So it’s time for us to get our sea legs under us. Rather than trying to avoid the storms of life, we need to learn how to get through them, how to survive them, and how to learn the lessons that we can only learn in such times and such places.

 It has been said that you can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails. In other words, I can’t control all the elements of my world—or even very many of them at all. But I can control my reaction to them. I can adjust my sails—and adapt.”- Larry Patterson 

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9 Comments

  1. Randa….the last one a couple of days ago and this one are so true to your character.
    Proud to say that you’re a wonderful friend….and try and adjust the sails back to bahraini waters…!!

    1. Oh, if only Arwa! I would sail back in a heartbeat to see you and Anseya. Our friendship, even over the miles, is one I love and treasure.

  2. As always, your strength, beauty and grace shine bright Randa. Your growth and forward motion must feel incredible. Realizing your purpose and being who are are meant to be is both inspiring and refreshing. You have always been a light my friend, so glad you can see it, walk in it and own it! Walk in His joy my friend!

    1. Julie, thank you for being a voice of encouragement and clarity in my life. When the days are dismal, I can count on you to point me upward and onward. I miss you always.

  3. Hi- so nice to keep up with your adventures! So sorry we missed you this summer. I know it got crazy with the move and all. 🙂 Our neighbors, Ruth and Lee’s son, Matt and his wife and two kids live in Vicenza, too! Do you have a way to find them? He is a military firefighter. His wife teaches yoga. They have been there for a year already. I told them you were heading there when I saw them during summer. Take care, we miss you guys, but are thrilled you are having such an awesome adventure!

    1. Thanks! What is the family’s last name and Matt’s wife’s name? I am sure I can find them, which would be great. Hope you are doing well!

  4. Great post. I understand all too well. This move back to Geneva has been tough for me, but I’m fighting my way through it and it’s getting better. We’re hoping to get to Venice next year, and if we do we’ll pop in Vicenza for sure. Let me know if you guys plan a trip to Switzerland.