Posted by: karanoel | May 3, 2018

An island’s unexpected gift

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

My favorite spot

We spent our first week of marriage in a remote area of Belize with nothing beyond our gauzy drapes but the soft sun, groomed palms, and the Caribbean Sea. Surrounding us were the warmest people with glowing smiles who brought fresh towels to our room and pina coladas to our lounge spot by the pool. We rotated through the rain shower, oversized bathtub and jacuzzi, so as not to favor one over the other. We ate local fare at the small restaurants in town while chatting with the owners, or sated our seafood cravings at the beachside restaurants with our new, remarkably wonderful friends. We watched White Christmas on a rainy day, indulged in a good dose of silliness, and made each other laugh. We had adventures too… climbing up the slippery steps of Mayan ruins, using the catamaran in open sea after a 15 minute lesson, chasing a spry kitten around the room at midnight when I’d left the window open for a rainbow photo op. Ah, marriage. Why did I wait so long?

A new adventure

As much of a paradise as it was at the resort, it felt time to move on to the next leg of our honeymoon where we could experience a different part of the country in far simpler, much cheaper accommodations. Our small plane parked on the grassy runway of what we can only assume was the island’s airport, leaving us in the middle of a city John immediately likened to “bad Tijuana.” We wandered down bumpy roads with our suitcases, dodging golf carts and looking for the apartment that would host our stay – an apartment which, of course, possessed no address.  With the help of a local who saw our unobscured need, we arrived safely and were kindly greeted by the apartment’s owner, a Belizean native who bore a resemblance to our then-president, Obama. Together, we climbed concrete steps to the third floor, squeezed our way along the side of the building, and were led to a clean, humble apartment in the middle of the broken down city. There was no TV, one set of towels, and no one to cater to our needs. It was what we had signed up for and yet somehow fell so short of our expectations.

We wandered around aimlessly for a few days looking for somewhere to settle or some element of delight, and struggled to find any. But one evening all of that changed for me. It was after a snorkeling trip on a cool, drizzly afternoon. The wind had picked up on the boat ride back to the dock and I was so cold, I couldn’t stop shivering. My sopping wet towel did nothing to help. A wave of self-pity washed over me as I realized that there was no bath, no jacuzzi – not even hot water in the simple shower – waiting at the apartment. Nor was there a dry towel since I’d used the only other one for a cold shower before our outing.

IMG_3260

The shower that changed everything

We eventually made it back and my gracious husband boiled water for our showers, giving me the first turn. As I sat naked on the chilly tile of the shower floor next to a pot of boiling water, using my mug to get just the right ratio of hot/cold water to pour over my head, I suddenly realized that this was the funniest thing on earth. The full absurdity of the situation exposed itself when I grabbed the only available linen to dry my body – a washcloth that wouldn’t even cover a single cheek.

All the tentative emotion I’d been carrying around poured out into hysterical laughter, like a mighty damn being broken. I’m not sure what John thought of the outburst (probably that I’d lost my marbles), but I had found my delight. I was having adventures with my new husband; experiences to bond over; ones we would most certainly remember. This is when I realized what marriage is all about… not perfectly executed romantic situations (although I’ll embrace them when they come), but God in the midst of us and us in the midst of each other – doing life together and finding our joy, no matter what comes. And isn’t this the way our relationship with God – and with His people – work too? Situations that would have been insufferable alone become times of doing life together, with God in the midst of us and us in the midst of each other; finding our joy in the adventure, no matter what comes.

The rest of that trip was different for me. It wasn’t that the city had gained charm or become my favorite place, but there was a newfound appreciation for whatever we found there together – good and bad. And, from that point on, I had fun. In truth, as we stood on the water taxi to head back to the mainland, I felt sad to go. The island had helped me find what mattered and gained my affection.

In the six years that have followed, John and I have experienced far more wonderful things than a resort can offer and have faced far more difficult things than the lack of hot water or dry towels. As we have invited God into the midst of it all and realized that we are on this adventure together, He has continued to shape the two of us into the one He means us to be. Through the ups and downs, I’ve also experienced a beautiful unity with other believers sharing this journey with me. But beyond all of that, I’ve realized that I am on the ultimate adventure with the One who created me, who will always be there to help me find the joy, no matter what comes, because “God Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or abandon you.'” (Heb 13:5)

A brilliant promise of good things to come


Responses

  1. […] I wrote my last post, I remembered something about that wonderful experience at the resort. On our first night there, we […]

  2. Beautiful as always!!! I miss you so much. I truly feel you are my sister seperated at birth. Love this! Love you!

    • Did you guess who our “new remarkably wonderful friends” were? Still can’t believe the way we got a forever friendship/sisterhood out of that trip! Miss you too!!

      • Um, I was sure hoping it was us! Thanks for confirming!!! 😆

      • Kind of a given! We have your husband’s good memory of my blog’s name for the stateside continuation of our lovely friendship :))


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