Jul 1, 2014

Expecting the Unexpected

You know the moment you fully expect something to be one thing and it turns out to be something else entirely?  Yeah, me too...  I've become intimately acquainted with that feeling over the past 3 months.

My last post was right before leaving to come to Mexico.  It didn't take me 11 weeks to get here, no, I've been here for the past 11 weeks.  But I've been acclimating.  I've sat down many times to write a post for my blog, and just as many times I have trashed it and walked away from my computer more frustrated than when I sat down.  Not this time.  I WILL publish this post.

I wish I could detail all the fun times we have had, all the adventures walking around the town, riding the buses, watching the children blossom and grow in learning Spanish, and observing the new relationships that were so long awaited with the other half of my babies' family.  There is so much to tell, so many stories to share.  But I can't go there right now.  It will flow naturally eventually.  =)

I also wish I could testify to the way I have seen God work in Mexico, but the only thing I can testify to at this point is what a humbling and eye opening experience this has been.  It has been frustrating more often than not, I have desperately grasped for a sense of normalcy to no avail.  And alas, this was not what I expected.

If the past year and a half has taught me anything, surely it is that I should never presume to know what to expect.  But apparently I am a slow learner when it comes to life lessons, and even more stubborn and hard-headed.  I fully expected to be prepared mentally for the change.  I fully expected to embrace every aspect and dive in head first.  I fully expected to explore every open door and exploit every opportunity without hesitation.  I expected that my children would flourish in a place where they could run free and experience a simpler way of life (they did not disappoint!).  I, however, failed miserably.  I thought I was going to see the cup half full all the time because, how could I not?  My family was finally back together after a while year apart!  How much we had missed together that should not have been!

How could I not?  That is a very interesting and multi-faceted question, a very good question, a question I did not expect to face.  It's not that I am ungrateful or that I am materialistic.  I could live without anything and be fine as long as I have my loved ones.

But I hit a hard realization the moment I left the airport in Mexico City.  I was not prepared for this move.  Not at all.  I realized that the last several months before I left the only home I had ever known, I had gone on autopilot.  I had so much to accomplish in such a small period of time, so many legalities to deal with, so much that I needn't forget, so many hours working, so many people that I needed to visit.  I got all the paperwork taken care of because that was priority, but the relationships were left in the wake because my autopilot shut down any emotional response to the changes on my doorstep.  I memorized my own story.  It was pretty cool actually because I could recite every detail at the slightest inquiry as to what our plans were, in my sleep.  It was like an interesting poem I had memorized, one with a very happy ending, "and everyone lived happily ever after..."  Everyone was so interested in the turn our lives had taken because they didn't know anyone who had gone through this personally before.  Neither did I.  It made me special and unique.  Who doesn't enjoy that?  But then the day came, and I was ripped from home.  We almost missed the flight, so we were literally running through the airport and security and waving our final goodbyes and blowing kisses because they were shutting the doors.  Then the airplane ride was eventful with two littles crying and screaming and freaking out every time we hit turbulence.  Giancarlo is scared of heights and couldn't bear to look out the window.  I wasn't sure if we were going to need the barf bag or not, and I couldn't decide if I should console him or stifle my hysterical laughter bubbling just below the surface.

We made it, we landed, then we were herded through customs, got help picking up our 5 large suitcases and dog, were waived through security and out into the open.  There was Carlos, waiting.  There were tears.  Lots of tears, and hugs and kisses.  Giancarlo kept repeating the same phrases over and over, "We're a family again, I can't believe it, we're a family again!", and "I'm so glad y'all got married again."  It was the most precious thing, and made it all worth it.  We rented a car, and we were off.  And then it hit me, like a ton of bricks.  A feeling I wasn't prepared to feel.  A feeling I had suppressed for the past several months, completely unknowingly.  A feeling I had even denied existed.  And it washed over me with a fierceness that I could not contain.  What the hell was I doing here?  Was I out of my damn mind?  What the hell were we going to do in Mexico?  I don't belong here!  I want to go home.  To hell with love and family and all that other stupid mushy stuff.  What am I doing here?  What am I doing here?  Why did I do this again?  Where am I exactly?  Is this what I really want?  Did I even ask myself these questions before I decided this was the best decision to make for my family?  How could I be so stupid?  What is wrong with me?  What am I doing here?  How did I live in a cloud for so long?  I'm happy, right?  This is what I wanted, right?  Is it?

And I cried.  And I cried, and I cried, and I cried.  I cried the whole way to my new home in Puebla.  I cried myself to sleep for the next 3 days.  Carlos and I fought and argued and screamed and disagreed, he was so confused and couldn't understand what I was feeling, the emotional turbulence I was facing inside.  I was lost inside myself, forget about geographically.  I was disoriented and confused and unable to find anything to stabilize me, anything to ground me and bring me back to reality.  I was spinning out into the universe of the unknown and I was scared and alone.  Oh yes, I had Carlos, but we had never been so far apart emotionally as we were those first few days.  I had my children to care for, but they were whisked away over and over with all the excitement of finally meeting grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.  We were a novelty on display for everyone to see, and I just wanted to hide and cry.  I didn't want to look strong, I didn't want to smile, I didn't want to talk about our journey, and I didn't want to repeat that same damn story I had memorized and put on auto-replay.  I hated that story now.  That story was a lie because it was filled with half-truths and silly expectations.  Instead I focused my happiness on the smiles I saw come from my children as they became reacquainted with their Father, a piece of their lives that was missing and had left a huge hole in their hearts, a piece that was now being filled to overflowing, and I could see it beaming from their eyes.  I focused on that entirely, and stopped focusing on what I had been dealing with.  I decided that, if for no other reason, it was reason enough to have made the exact same decisions all over again, regardless.

As the days passed, I resolved to be happy and enjoy my family.  And I did, but I also had to resolve to accept that nothing had changed.  My life was going to continue to be exactly the same as it had always been.  I had so much hope that things would be different somehow, better, because we had gone through so much bad to get to this point, it just had to be better.  It had to be.  But you see, that's the thing about expectations: you miss out on the blessing of reality and you completely skip over the good that God has brought into your life in the present moment because you are pining over what you perceive to have lost, even though it was never yours, except in dreams.

This is one thing I have had to face many times in my life, because I tend to be a dreamer and think that absolutely nothing is out of my reach.  And I've hit that wall of limitation over and over and over.  It's a hard thing to see and accept.  I have limitations.  There are things that are out of my control, other people being the primary of those things; there are things that I do not know and am incapable of.

The good thing is, it's not the end of the world.  Mercifully, the sun continues to rise and set each day, the world continues to spin on it's axis, I continue to breathe in and out without thought as to how or if I will have another breath.  The children continue to have needs, hunger, playtime, baths, naps and bedtime.  Everything keeps going as though what you thought was the end of your world was completely inconsequential to the natural order of anything whatsoever.  And that is reassuring.  It's not up to me to make sure everything stays in orbit.  I am free to spiral out of control, knowing I have a God that never let's me go or loses sight of how far I have gone.

I like to think of the story in the Bible about the shepherd with his sheep...  He leaves the 99 to go find the 1 that has wandered off.  I am a wanderer.  I am stubborn and quickly forget.  And I am so thankful for my shepherd that is always willing to drop everything, to come find me.  He always finds me, and carries me back to camp on his shoulders, and he always will.  No matter how many times I forget, no matter how many times it takes to learn that I am not alone, he never forgets and never leaves me on my own, to fend for myself.

New life is always born out of death, death of self, death of pride, death of whatever...  What will He bring out of this?  What testimony will sing His praises?  I don't think it's my job to know.  =)  I only know that I should expect the unexpected, laying aside my pre-formed expectations, and follow His lead, wherever that may go.  And to know that it's okay and I don't have to put myself under pressure to have it all figured out, neither do I have to feel guilty for being a mess sometimes.

Life wouldn't be so beautiful and colorful and wonderful if there wasn't sweet along with the sour, if it was all rose-colored and even keeled.  That's the great thing about it.  We are resilient, even when we don't want to be and fight the changes.  I wouldn't change any of this for the world.  I am thankful for my life, thankful for my children, Giancarlo, Carmen-Elena, and Baby Guerrero #3, who was a surprise, but such an awesome reconciliation of our family unit, such a testament to new beginnings and love and family.  I am thankful for my husband who never stops growing and learning, right next to me, who is a wonderful father that understands a child's heart.  I am thankful for this moment, a moment that my whole life has lead up to, without a doubt.  I still don't know the future and I'm pretty sure I'll always be a handful one way or another, it's just a part of the way God made me.  Actually, I'm not really sure of anything else, but I'm glad God knows the beginning and the end and all the inbetween, and walks with us continually.  I can trust in Him alone, because He is good. 

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