When life gives you Ramen.

I’ve been back from the Middle East about 3 weeks now, and my mind and heart are still reeling with memories of what happened there. My life is pretty funny now a days. Once again I’m in a transition period of life and, unlike last transition season, I am determined to NAIL this transition, kick its butt, do it well and do it surrendered. So, if you’d like to cheer me on, feel free to insert a custom made Caitlin cheer……right……H E R E. 🙂

Thank you. Thank you.

I’ve been trying to process and get a grip on what God did in the Middle East while I was there and it wasn’t until I heard this phrase from one of my best friends the other day that my heart was shaken to it’s core.

“Contentment is found in a bowl of ramen noodles.” 

What the heck, am I right? You’re probably asking yourself: “Caitlin, that phrase is absurd. Absolutely ridiculous.” You’re right. I thought the same thing too, until I discussed it.

How many times in life do we get ramen noodles instead of the gourmet spaghetti plate?
Or maybe it’s the off brand coke instead of actual Cocacola, or in my case: Dr. Thunder instead of Dr. Pepper?
To shoot straight to the heart strings (my heart strings): how many times do you find yourself single when all you want is to be married and you watch wedding after wedding and proposal after proposal happen and you never even catch the bouquet at the weddings you get to attend.

We all do it. I do it all the time. We get to a certain point in life that we think we will be content, and BAM discontentment sets in again. We are single. We want friends. We want to be married. We get that and we want more. More friends. Our own kids. More money. A bigger house.

Since when was Jesus not enough for our hearts? For my heart?

I’ve been horrible at being content since being back in the states. I desperately long for the day that I get the go ahead from God to move overseas. I long for the day when I can look into people’s eyes who live in the unreached areas of the world and speak the name of Jesus to them for the very first time. My heart longs for the culture, for the people, for the places. I even catch myself longing for the funny, but hard stuff that happens in other countries: not knowing where to buy groceries, not knowing the brands of makeup or even the cool stores, and not being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet. Those longings aren’t bad. The desires in my heart for the nations are God given ones. They’re holy. They’re right. BUT they’re holy and right when they are not my idols. When the thoughts of them bring my heart into alignment with anger or bitterness or discontentment…or they even fog my right view of God, they become bad.

I’ve been really struggling, the last few months, with anger. Anger that cripples me. It was not until this conversation about ramen noodles that I realized the root of my anger. D I S C O N T E N T M E N T.
I’ve been so unaware of the condition of my heart that I thought I was just always going to be angry. But when I realized that my heart was so discontent, I started treating it differently, asking God questions differently, thinking differently. Every time anger has come alive in my heart the last few days, I’ve asked “God, what am I discontent about?” It’s been incredible. So freeing. So good.

I’m learning that I can sit in Texas, longing to be in the Middle East, and be content with my present circumstances. I can get lukewarm coffee and really want hot coffee, but instead, be thankful for the coffee I can get so freely and drink it with a thankful heart. I’m learning that thankfulness really is the key in being content in ALL circumstances.

Philippians 4:11-14 (MSG) says:

“Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.”

So that’s just that. Paul was in the middle of a ramen noodle experience. In prison. Rough life. Yet Paul says “whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” I want to be that way. Hands full or hands empty, happy or sad, hungry belly or full belly, in America or the Middle East…fully alive and fully satisfied with the One who makes me who I am.

With Jesus, my life is complete and whole.
Even if I do not see it now: I am where I am, because Jesus is here.
My ramen is good. It is what my belly needs. It makes me full.

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Psalm 16:5-6

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