{Segue} My Mess

I’ve read a lot of commentary online about how we manufacture perfection in our Instagram photos and portray only the best in our status updates on Facebook. There’s a lot of talk about how it’s easy to be fake online, how it’s natural to be unnatural when there’s a computer staring you in the face instead of another human being. And, of course, I agree with these sentiments because I know it’s all too easy to be Online Me instead of the real Christel.

But sometimes I wonder just how much of the mess I should expose.

I mean, if I tell you how I’m really doing, will it seem like I’m just looking for pity? Or will you read my blog post and realize that I’m trying to be real because I’m tired of pretending that everything is okay?

I think I’ve decided that I need to share something of what I’ve been dealing with this year. I’m not asking for pity, but prayers would be nice.

It’s been a really hard year. I’m not good with change, and in the last eight months I’ve gotten married, moved to a different city (in a foreign country where there’s still culture stress even though I’ve lived here for four years), and started a completely new teaching job.

Just let that settle in for a bit. That’s a lot of change.

Now, marriage has been excellent, but it’s still change. I’m used to being Ms. Hatcher. One of the three Hatchlings. A single girl with time to myself. None of that is me anymore. Who am I? Who is this Mrs. Prezalor whose name I hear in my classroom all day? I feel guilty even complaining about this since all I wanted for the past ten years was to have someone in my life who loves me and will stand by me. I have that now, and I’m thankful. But it’s still an adjustment. I guess the grass is greener on the other side, eh?

Onto moving. Taichung is a nice city, but it took me four years to find my places in Dashe/Kaohsiung. I knew where to get eye glasses and how to navigate the hospital system. I found the best dumpling and noodle restaurants, and I knew how to order at them too. Things were familiar, not to mention beautiful from my apartment perched on a hill. Now I live in the city, and everything is a learning experience again. Sure, things are more convenient but only once you figure out how to navigate them all. Language will always be a barrier, though it slowly becomes less of one the more I practice. Moving is difficult no matter where you go, but the adjustments are magnified when you’re a foreigner in town.

And community? I feel like I walked away from all of my family and friends and came to the land of loneliness. Maybe it’s because we’re off-campus, or maybe it’s because we’re only sort of new to Taiwan. Maybe it’s because we’re too busy with school responsibilities to have time to make friends, or maybe it’s something else entirely. Whatever the reason, Charles and I haven’t really made any close friends here yet. We have people we chat and laugh with and lean on at school, but we have not really connected with anyone outside of school. That’s tough.

And teaching. Oh teaching. This is year nine of teaching, and it feels like year one all over again. I come home exhausted every day, and I feel like I’m never doing enough to be a good teacher. I work every evening on preparation for the next day or the rest of the week. Grading takes forever (with 95 students), and I feel like I am barely meeting the basic expectations for my job. I’m never enough, and I can’t give any more. I suppose this is feeling particularly daunting as we are now in the long stretch between Chinese New Year and Easter breaks. Day One back to school after CNY, and I’m already wiped out. I do love my students, and day-to-day, I enjoy being in the classroom, but I. am. exhausted.

Things could be worse, and there are definitely bright spots in my life. It’s not as if the things I post on this blog are lies. I know that life is good and God is faithful. I feel the joy that I write about in the stories I share. It’s just that there’s a lot of sadness, loneliness, and exhaustion too.

I would appreciate your prayers if you think of me. I believe that prayer can change lives. Prayer can encourage and transform hearts. Please pray that God will renew me and help me to see and experience His joy even in the hard circumstances.

*Click to read other posts in my {Segue} series.

8 thoughts on “{Segue} My Mess

  1. Christel,
    Though I have not had the same kind of transitions you have experienced over the last year, I can definitely relate personally to the difficulty, intense dislike, and fear of change. Additionally, I don’t know how Charles is, but my husband loves, thrives on, and even seeks out change. It often makes for some interesting arguments!
    I wish that I could say some perfect words of wisdom and share great advice, but, unfortunately, during transition I have had to just struggle and trudge through. I don’t mean “trudge” in a despairing walk of hopelessness. But I mean “trudge” in the concerted daily choice to smile, try again, make the best, and trust that God is going to reward our consistency and efforts. I just want you to know that, despite the amazing, intense blessings that you do have, what you are experiencing is miserable and I want to validate those feelings. I really appreciate your honesty and your sharing these deep struggles of your heart. Though we don’t talk or see each other now, I keep up with your blog and you are regularly in my thoughts and prayers.
    Peace and lots of love,

    1. Grace, thank you for the encouragement and validation. It’s nice to hear that I’m not crazy and that it’s normal to struggle. I keep up with you via Facebook; I love that little guy of yours–he’s precious! (And I’m not talking about Ben. :) Anyway, thanks for making the connection and speaking truth into my life. Reminds me of our RA/SLA days…back when I thought life couldn’t get any harder. Hahaha. We knew so little.

  2. Oh Christel, I hear you. Even when change like that is good, it’s overwhelming. I will certainly be praying for you as you continue to find your place in Taichung, adjust to life as a wife, and figure out the lessons and grading for school. Just remember to give yourself some grace as you adjust.

    1. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement, friend. I know you know what it’s like to be the odd one out in a foreign country. Thanks for the reminder about grace…you know me too well.

  3. Dear Christel,

    You have written a beautiful and concise assessment of the challenges that face us in the midst of what are otherwise positive circumstances. Yes, it is change, and it is difficult! Obviously, you realize that! I just liked the way you expressed it. Let me tell you that I think I have a pretty good sense of what you’re going through, though in a somewhat converse way. All I can really say in this public forum is that I hope (and trust) that you will keep on leaning on the Lord and the people in your community, even though you don’t know them that well yet. It really does take time, as I know you are aware, but maybe it bears repeating in the spirit of empathy and encouragement. You and Charles always have an open invitation to join me and others from my school community, and I really hope you do so! We often meet on the weekends to visit a new or favorite restaurant, and just generally have a good time. Might be a nice way for you guys to get to see the city a bit more :)

    In Christ,

    1. Tim, thank you for the encouraging comment. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one in the world that feels like this. It’s also nice to be reminded that it takes time to adjust to so many new things. Charles and I will try to connect with you at some point to hang out and learn about this great city. You’re right that leaning on God is really the only option when the going gets tough like this; after all, His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

  4. I’m just now catching up with your blog, Christel, so this reply is a bit tardy, but I want you to know that I am praying for God to send you some friends that you and Charles can really connect with. I know how important this is — it’s one of those things that, when it’s in place, the adjustments to all the changes are not quite so overwhelming. THanks so much for your transparency in this post. Praying for you, friend.

  5. Dear Miss Chris,

    I read your blog the other day (many entries) and I’m sorry to hear that you have had a rough time lately. I would like to remind of you some things.

    Do you know how brave and amazing you are? You are. Remind yourself every single day of that. You moved halfway around the world, to a completely different culture, and made a life for yourself there. I can’t even imagine doing that. I went to Canada once for 3 days and I was like, “okay, that’s enough of being somewhere new. Take me home please!” And they spoke English there! And I could use American money! And I was with a million friends thatI love dearly! (PS – Don’t yell at me in your head for starting sentences with the word “and”, Miss English Teacher. You know you love it.) I cannot imagine having the courage to do what you did. Further evidence of awesome-ness: You devote your life to helping children and those in need. You married a man that you had only seen in person for half a minute. You have put your bruises out there for the world to see. You have ALWAYS had a courage that is so deep inside of you, that you don’t even recognize that it’s there. So what if you take time to rest, recuperate, and adjust? You are not super-human and no one ever said you had to be. Be easy on yourself. And don’t even THINK about comparing you are handling this transition to how anyone else has handled similar transitions. No one else is you. These are your feelings and no one else’s. How others react doesn’t matter. So stop telling yourself lies and stories like “I’m a mess” and “I’m never enough”. Whoever said that if you aren’t perfect, then this makes you an inadequate mess?

    I remember, way back in high school (back when we shared a locker!), there was a period when you were having a rough time. I don’t remember what it was about. And Dan (from Wheaton, or something like that?) told you to tell Satan to get behind you. Do you remember that? I do. You were on the phone with him one night, he told you to tell Satan to get behind you, and you said it over and over until you felt empowered. The next day, you came to school with a renewed spirit. So in my humble opinion, it’s time to not only to tell Satan to get behind you again, but while he’s back there, give him a nice roundhouse kick in the face. Just a suggestion.

    You are brave, strong, and amazing. Even if you don’t feel it right now, it’s true. There is NOTHING that you cannot overcome. Keep your chin up.

    Love always,

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