Connecting the Dots

Photo credit: Green Chameleon on Unsplash

I sat across the desk from my college advisor, frustration starting to mount. "All I want is to sign up for Spanish 1," I thought to myself. "Why is she making this so difficult?" I sat there for another ten minutes as she droned on about how I'd taken French in high school, so naturally I should continue my language studies in that direction. Besides, the class sizes were smaller and it would be a much better experience, she reasoned. I finally caved just to get her to stop talking, thinking I'd just switch after the first semester when I wasn't required to meet with her any more. Four semesters later I found myself still taking French, and wondering why in the world I  had invested so much time learning something I was obviously never going to use, unless I visited Paris or moved to Quebec.

College wasn't the greatest experience, and I added "taking French" to my list of dumb life choices, promptly forgetting all about it, except for the occasional word that my history loving son would beg me to teach him. The Marquis de Lafayette spoke French, so obviously he should, too, of course. At least I was getting some use out of it.

Fast forward to Haiti, 2019. One morning I found myself working on the climbing wall for the playground with one of the older boys, Jean Robert. He could speak fairly decent English, and was having fun teaching me a few words in Haitian Creole. Communicating with the kids had been difficult and frustrating, and I was eagerly soaking up whatever he would teach me. As we continued to work, he casually mentioned that a lot of the children also understand French, since that is the language they are taught at school.

I immediately thought of that fateful day in my college advisor's office in shock. God had known all along. He had looked into my future and seen how much I would long for a way to communicate, and in His kindness had given me a gift that I had griped and complained about-- even writing it off as "stupid." I don't deserve that kind of grace, but I smiled as I almost heard God say, "Makes more sense now, doesn't it?"

After ten years of little to no use, my French was a bit rusty, but over the next few days those rusty files in the back of my brain seemed to break open, little by little. To see their eyes light up with understanding and connection when words familiar to them left my lips is a gift I will cherish forever.

To say that 2020 has been a year of more questions than answers would be an understatement. Six months ago today my husband's boss and close friend died unexpectedly in a snowmobiling accident. A few weeks later the pandemic hit, then my children's school abruptly shut down for two weeks and then for the rest of the academic year. It was one thing after another for the rest of the summer, among them a work injury that landed my husband in the ER with nine staples and a nurse that just looked at him and said "well, you must still have some things to accomplish in the world." I look at all of those things, and none of them make sense. They all seem stupid, with no point or purpose that could possibly make me believe that God could work it for good.

And then, I remember college French, and I remember Haiti. Maybe 2020 will never make sense this side of heaven, but I'm thankful that God's plan is not confined to my finite human understanding. So today, and in the days to come, we just cling to hope and "do the next right thing," trusting that everything, no matter what, God is going to use for good. 

"We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28 CSB


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