Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Blog, News & Updates | 3 comments

So I was hoping to save this update for when I had an apartment and was all settled into life here in Paris. It seemed like a nice idea at the time, to share the anecdotes and random stories from the other side where I would be “safe and sound.” But that hasn’t happened yet, and I’ve decided to share with you earlier than planned for two reasons:

1) This is taking a while and I don’t want you to think I’ve died (though most of you probably see the photos that prove otherwise posted elsewhere) and

2) because I’ve realized that safe and sound “on the other side” is a ridiculous way of perceiving my situation.

jay-swanson-sacre-coeur

I won’t say that this hasn’t been a comedy of errors, my life to this point in transitioning off of the ship and into Paris has been bumpy to say the least. I’ve been lost in the French social security system and in Mercy Ships’ payroll simultaneously. I’ve discovered the pitfalls of being alone in a new city and the impossibility of finding an apartment in France (assuming anyone ever calls you back). I even tore my last pair of pants AND my last pair of shorts in a matter of days (you served me well, boys).

I’ve also realized just how monumental a transition I’m making, particularly in leaving 2 years of life on a floating box in Africa to being back in the West. I’m missing out on the opening of a new field service, of the return of a number of friends to the ship, and of the continued relationships that have become so important to me since I first shored up in Applesbosch.

And then I struggle with missing my friends and family back in the States, the life events and growth and changes that are all happening without me. The more I think about it the less certain I am of where I should be; I’ve even started dreaming of pretty much everyone I know around the world who means something to me on a regular basis. I’ve become some sort of emotional train wreck, and unfortunately for the inhabitants of the town in which this happened, said strain was carrying hazardous materials.

jay-swanson-classroom

I got a series of emails/news last week that kind of pushed me over the edge. I was backed into this corner where I had no perceivable way out, and I lost it for a day.

And that’s why I’m writing this premature update, because it was in that rock-bottom-again moment that God really got my attention.

One of the things that stood out to me most was this quote from Oswald Chambers:

We think it is a sign of true humility to say at the end of the day, “Well, I just barely got by today, but it was a severe struggle.” And yet all of Almighty God is ours in the Lord Jesus! And He will reach to the last grain of sand and the remotest star to bless us if we will only obey Him. Does it really matter that our circumstances are difficult? Why shouldn’t they be! If we give way to self-pity and indulge in the luxury of misery, we remove God’s riches from our lives and hinder others from entering into His provision. No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges – always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives.
[Emphasis mine]

Not to say that I’ve stopped complaining, but I’m realizing just how ridiculous my complaining really is. I don’t have anything to fear, even if Mercy Ships loses me and the French government refuses to pay me off the bat, they aren’t my providers. God is. Who is it that has kept me afloat even through the most difficult circumstances I’ve had in the last five years? I haven’t starved, I haven’t missed a single bill even when I didn’t think I’d have enough to eat, I have wanted for nothing and I have so much more than so manyWHY AM I COMPLAINING?

jay-swanson-paris-cafe

I should be excited to see how God comes through and provides for me! There’s an apartment out there with my name on it, a paycheck that will someday actually wind up in my bank account, and a world of opportunity to enjoy while I’m working for Mercy Ships and teaching English here in Paris, France for Pete’s sake!

I have friends here who are letting me stay with them on the cheap, others who have been willing to take me in at the last minute when I needed a place to sleep. I’ve found an awesome church and am making more friends. This has been a banner month for my books, breaking all previous sales records for both. I was even just given an ID card for being an educator that gets me into every state monument and museum in France for free until 2015. Seriously? My life is awesome!

(I went to the Louvre on Friday just because I could)

jay-swanson-louvre-les-miserables

Who cares if I don’t have money or a place to live? I have God, and that stuff will come when He’s done shaking me up and returning me to Him in the fashion that He best sees fit. I’m just along for the ride. How much of this is under my control anyways? Next to none of it. If I learned anything with Mercy Ships, it should have been that.

And so I’m writing this update to let you know I’m alive, and to let you know that Jesus lives too and that He’s still orchestrating everything around you, even when it seems like everything is falling apart. Perhaps in those moments you would best be served to look a little closer at where exactly your world is centered that it could so easily fall apart, and refocus it on something stable and eternal.

It’s when your focus is right that you find “safe and sound” to be with you at all times, and never “on the other side.”