Cry Baby

Ja, genau.
Ja, genau.

Alright, you asked for it. (Or at least by all your positive responses to my last blog entry, you implicitly asked for it). Apparently, people on Facebook and the blogosphere like it when I’m honest, so in an effort to give the people what they want, here is another very honest blog post comin’ at ya. Be careful what you wish for, haha.

Since my last post, things have been better, although the last week certainly contained its share of ups and downs. A particular set of “downs” happened on Tuesday afternoon when a slew of little things conspired to ruin my afternoon: the café where I decided to work for a few hours didn’t have wifi (even though it looked exactly like the German version of Panera!) Unfortunately, I only discovered this after purchasing an over-priced not-so-large “large” coffee. So I soon decided to relocate to the Staatsbibliothek (state library), where I could find a quiet space and hopefully accomplish something before heading to small group. But since backpacks aren’t allowed inside the library (#weird), I knew I needed to rent a locker. And I knew that these lockers only accept 1 Euro coins, despite being designed to take the 2 euro version. Since I didn’t have any change, I decided to make a quick stop by a souvenir shop where I could buy a poster I’d noticed a few weeks before. I finally located the store, which turned out to be an adventure: the store ended up being in the mall, which, of course, was not clear in Google Maps, and had moved to a different floor, which of course was not mentioned on the mall map. But after much unnecessary walking, I found the store, bought the poster, and headed to the library… only to discover that I’d gotten multiple 50 cent coins in change, but not a single 1 Euro. So I tracked down the library’s change machine, got a Euro, found a locker, transferred the contents of my backpack to an official “Staatsbibliothek” clear plastic bag and headed to the entrance. But as I began going through the turnstile, the not-so-happy librarian on duty stopped me and motioned to my computer. Apparently, I needed to take it out of the case. So I side-stepped awkwardly back through the turnstile, liberated my computer, and reassembled the bag to enter again…. only to hear in angry German: DAS MUSS RAUS!” Which translates roughly into politer English as, “you have to leave that computer case outside.”

And with that, I was done. I turned around, walked back to my locker, and then burst into unashamed and very messy tears. I knew I looked silly and that plenty of very normal, well-adjusted people could see me, but in that moment I just didn’t care. I’d had enough frustrating foreign cultural experiences for one day, and I simply couldn’t deal with it anymore. After gathering my things, I walked (still crying) to the U-Bahn station and headed home.

But although the library crying incident was a new low (or at least a new recent low), it didn’t get the final word on my week. That night, I was really encouraged by my friends at small group… even if their prayer for me was simply, “Lord, please help Steffi’s mess”, haha. On Wednesday, I attended a university welcome event and made a new friend. On Thursday, I found out that I received a two-month research stipend for Poland—my advisor didn’t even expect me to get it!—so that was a very pleasant surprise. Over the weekend, I ate delicious homemade fish tacos with friends. And then I pulled two almost all-nighters to watch the Royals win their first World Series in 30 years. So all in all, my week turned out far better than my not-so-auspicious Tuesday afternoon foreshadowed.

But I guess life is often like that, isn’t it? Or at least it is for me. I go through rough patches and dry spells, and when I’m in the middle of them (think, last Tuesday) I feel as if they’re never going to end. I get frustrated, I get discouraged, and I get frustrated and discouraged by my frustration and discouragement. Talk about a meta-level mess.

Librarians don’t normally have the ability to make me cry. But sometimes, like last Tuesday, they do. And I guess I’m learning that this emotional rollercoaster with all its daily ups and downs is okay. It’s okay to be frustrated, and it’s okay to cry. I just have to keep going because, even though things may be crummy in this moment, they will probably get better very soon. And even if they don’t get better right away, good things are still coming from it. Especially in the difficult moments, I’m learning to become more honest with God and to trust deep down that He cares. Verses like “as a Father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” and “He catches our tears* (*even the librarian-induced ones) in a bottle” are becoming more real and meaningful to me. And so even though this emotional rollercoaster often stinks, and I’d oftentimes prefer not to be riding it, deep down I’m learning to be grateful for this experience.

… At least I am right now. Ask me again after my next trip to the Staatsbibliothek. 😉

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