My name is Elizabeth Cluck. I’m nineteen years old. I am from Lebanon, Tennessee (well, technically Possum Town, I guess), and I have lived there most of my life. I have lived in the same house since 5th grade and went to a high school that was 2 miles from my house. Although I have moved some, the rolling hills of Tennessee have been my home for my entire life. However, I now find myself in a completely new environment. An environment where mountains tower above the clouds (so much so that you can actually see them from the airplane before it starts to land), where the culture and language are new and exciting, and where every single thing I’ve ever known is a few thousand miles a way.
So how is Santiago, Chile different from Possum Town?
The short answer? In pretty much every way imaginable.
Even in the first weeks, I have felt a whole lot of emotions. I have felt the joy that comes from being on a grand adventure. I have felt frustrated by a language that is new and different. I have felt sadness from seeing the pictures and videos from my friends and family, knowing that a part of my heart still resides with them. In some ways, the past few weeks have been some of the most uncomfortable and restless days of my life.
However, in the midst of my many emotions that ebb and flow throughout the course of the day, I think God is teaching me to find peace in the chaos.
And maybe that’s why these verses hit me in a little different way than they ever had before.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. -Philippians 4:11-12
Content? No matter what? It’s hard for that thought to even make sense in my mind. How could Paul, after every event in his life, still learn to be content no matter the circumstances and live a life filled with the peace that only God could give? If I need peace in order to find contentment, then where do I go to calm the chaos? I think the answer lies a few verses before.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Thanksgiving. That’s the answer. When I actively choose to be thankful, I forget about the things that make me discontent. I learn to be content whatever the circumstances when I learn to be thankful whatever the circumstances. Peace is the confidence that no matter what happens, God is control of my life. Whatever happens in life, I can trust that God’s response will be Good. And because of that, I can respond with thankfulness.
So today, my gratitude journal will begin. The active search to find God in my everyday life will become what I live for. Because no matter where we find ourselves, whether it be in the middle of South America, or at home with the people we love, God is good, He is present, and He is near. And that is something to be thankful for.