CH 17 LIVING IN EXILE
Palm trees waving under a cloudless blue sky.
Bonfires and conversations in the backyard.
Laughter flowing over glasses of red wine and notes off vintage vinyl.
Roses in bloom.
The smell of fresh grapefruit.
Already topless convertibles.
Hanako's heart aches for what she has lost, until a quiet voice in her spirit says, "loss is involuntary." And then she sees in her mind the way the last several months of her life have unfolded with great activity on her part and knows that voluntary, aggressive action has landed her where she is now.
She feels startled by the sudden gratitude and stillness that fills her heart as she dwells on these images of her past actions.
Later, a message from a friend makes her heart soar, burrows the truth she'd heard that morning even deeper into her heart. "I have you near to my heart every day that I'm at home. You and Jiro join every conversation we have about the beginning of our marriage and Home together."
The thought crosses her mind then that she and Jiro had been the gatekeepers of that home they four loved, that its purposes were being made complete in her friends' story and that the story had begun with her and Jiro.
For a moment, Hanako wants to pout.
Why did it sometimes hurt so much to think that everything wasn't for her? That the story she stepped into wasn't always her own? Wasn't it possible that God loved her and her friend equally? She'd always had the sneaking suspicion He played favorites.
When Hanako and Jiro had presented their friends with a decorative key to symbolize the giving of all of their earthly goods along with their lease, Hanako's heart had thrilled at the thought that she and Jiro were in a position to do this grand thing--this thing she had never thought they would be able to do until they had so much more.
She had thought at that moment that there was nothing greater in life than to be able to give in this way to someone else, to know that she herself, was only continuing the good that others had begun in her. Looking into their friends' beautiful, shining eyes, she knew it was one of the best moments of her life.
But then, Hanako had stepped into her new life in Japan with everything unfamiliar, feeling lost in herself, feeling a lack of having, feeling a great desire for having, and she resented her friends. God must love them more than her, to give them so much and give her so little. At those times, she felt as though she'd been exiled to a land far away so that her friends could have it all.
Hanako thinks now that someone should have slapped her in the face--shaken her shoulders and said, "wake-up, silly girl!" But realizations like these take time to crystalize--sharpen--in the heart of the beholder.
She wished it weren't so, but it had taken her falling in love with Japan, solidifying new friendships, Jiro making an income, and signing a lease on a house that had shown her the truth of her circumstance.
It had taken all this and more for her to look happily at the photos of her friends living their stories in California and not feel as though she had lost and they had won.
This knowledge had taken root as she and Jiro drove a van full of furniture and things toward their new house. Eight months and seven Airbnb's later, they would no longer live on borrowed time in others' spaces.
God was giving them everything they had back in LA and more--more because they have more than they need. They have what they want.
Somewhere along her life path, Hanako had accepted the idea that she needed to prove to God how much she loved him before He could really love her. The proof of her love would be in her never failing Him, never doubting Him, accomplishing things for Him, always trusting Him.
But she didn't always trust, didn't always believe, didn't always understand the world He'd constructed. The past eight months were a perfect example of the way she regarded Him. Hot and cold. Near but then so far.
In relationships, someone has to make the first expression of love. Sometimes the gesture is reciprocated right away and so it feels as though they made it together. Sometimes, the gesture of another sparks an interest that wasn't there before.
God had set the spark with Hanako by showing her that He was fulfilling his word to her. This gained Him her trust again. And trust, Hanako realizes, doesn't have to be initiated by her for it to work in the relationship. God is the stronger one. He is capable of making the grand gestures to win her heart back.
And as Hanako looks around at the house that is hers even though it hadn't been on the market, reflects on a three-month work visa that in theory doesn't have the power put them in a one to two-year lease, and snuggles into the practically new leather chair she'd gotten for next to nothing on a sayonara sale, she thinks, He had. He had won her back.
Photo by Christopher Sardegna via Unsplash