Thursday, July 11, 2013

Don't blame location

When Erik first told me we were moving to Singapore in 2004, I had to look it up on a map. I had an idea that it was near Fiji.

It is not near Fiji.

I quickly learned more about our new tropical island home than its location, just short of the equator and connected by bridges to Malaysia. I learned that it was the cleanest, safest, most efficient, most affluent, and most beautiful place I've ever been. What's not to love about Singapore?

And yet, through our time there, I met plenty of women who hated Singapore. Couldn't find a thing to like about it. Really? How is that possible? It's a tropical island for Pete's sake. You live where people dream of vacationing.

The reason was that it wasn't Singapore they hated. It was their circumstances. Singapore just happened to be the unlucky backdrop. These women generally were expat women in transition, uprooted from all they loved, their homes, their families, and dropped into a lifestyle quite unlike what they'd ever known. They were lost, lonely, bored. They probably would have been lost, lonely, and bored in whatever country God dropped them, but they happened to be in Singapore and so it was at fault.

I learned two things from those women - first, that every place has its ups and downs, and you have to make a choice to focus on the ups. Second, and more importantly (because truthfully, some places do have fewer ups) I have to separate how I'm doing internally from where I am or I will miss growth.

People have started asking me how we like living in Orlando, and I have to remind myself to stop and take away the lens of transition that colors our first six months there. Though Orlando has been the context for some tough moments, it is not the cause of them. When I do that, I can say that yes, we really do enjoy living there.

Blaming location misses the real issues. It's easy to say "I just don't like this place. Life would be better somewhere else" rather than to acknowledge and deal with what our circumstances are doing to our hearts. The great news is that sometimes we can't change location, but we can always change how we look at them.

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