In my mind, bureaucracy might as well be a 4 letter word. Almost all of my most anxiety-ridden, ulcer-inducing memories have centered on some kind of government agency. My palms get sweaty, my heart rate quickens and I have the pit-of-the-stomach feeling that things are going to crumble apart and I will end up in some underground cell in some unpronounceable place.
Today I had the joy sitting in the Lithuanian immigration office for the second time, since, well, the first time after a 3 hour wait, my application was summarily rejected by an ill-tempered woman who, though I know she spoke English (because I had heard her in the office) refused to do so with me. She had sent me off that time with a sneer and a list of other documents I needed. This time, I believed I had the documents, but no. Not only did she reject the ones I offered, but she added to the list. Now I have 2 more things I have to track down before my current visa expires in about a month.
I don’t think it is coincidence that I have started re-reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, given to me by a beloved mentor who had been battling cancer at the time. To crudely paraphrase the beautifully poetic and convicting memoir, count your blessings. Literally. (That is for my roommate, K. We roll our eyes at how horribly misused is the word ‘literally,’ but here, I mean it).
To live a grateful, thankful, eucharisteo-filled life is to count each day, and all that comes in it, as a gift from God.
I had a hard time with this one on the bus ride home from immigration. Knowing that I am called to pray for my enemies, I prayed for the ill-tempered woman who has (twice!) rejected my application. My prayer was studded with words like “heathen,” “wrath,” and “smite.” When I caught myself, I rather reluctantly changed my mind, but my heart is harder (I mean that in both senses). Being at immigration and dealing with her and the whole process makes me bitter. It makes me dislike being here. It makes me long for the US where, though not perfect, the ways are familiar.
But today, but immigration, is the gift that God has given me today. I count it, even though I don’t understand it at all.
Today, my landlord and landlady were incredibly kind to drive me to immigration, wait with me, and help me understand what the ill-tempered woman was telling me. Today, though my status is in flux, I have the stability of a wonderful job teaching university students, a comfortable flat. Today, I went to the grocery store at the bottom of the hill and bought good, (somewhat) healthy food which I will prepare tonight and enjoy with my roommate while we binge watch Netflix. I am not a refugee stranded at a foreign border. I am not in fear for my life, or that of family members. 1, 2, 3, 4, 1,000. I am thankful, for this is the day that the Lord has made, and I will absolutely rejoice in it.