The 7 Month Slump

Generally, I’m a pretty positive person.  And I’m going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for having been pretty cool about this whole moving to Brazil thing.  I think I’ve handled it really well.  And for the most part – for the first 7 months – it wasn’t THAT tough because I was genuinely happy and super excited to be here.  It was a decision that Michael and I made together, after careful thought and much prayer.  It was an opportunity that Michael worked many long hours to make happen.  And it was an adventure.  For us.  Together.  And I love a good adventure!

Then came 7 months.  The 7 Month Slump.  Suddenly – and it was literally overnight – I started getting frustrated so easily by the big and the little things about life in Brazil.  The streets are dirty, people are always smoking, the air is terribly polluted, it smells bad, everything is extremely overpriced, our apartment layout is weird, I don’t have a real job, things never work right, everything is ten times more difficult and more bureaucratic than it should be, the internet is always kicking me offline, I’m living permanently without a microwave, a dryer & a disposal, my oven is too small to fit a regular cookie sheet and my dishwasher, well, you can see what I am working with here, I miss my friends and family from home and sometimes Portuguese really gets on my nerves.  UGH.

I love that this graph is called the “Happy Meter” and that it describes the slump as “Hostility” which I think is pretty accurate.

Poor Michael — for a couple of weeks every little thing about Brazil and our life here was getting to me.  I just didn’t feel relaxed — it was almost like I was waiting for something to happen (like for us to MOVE) but there was nothing to wait for.  We were not moving and this country was not changing.

Throughout life we are called, over and over, to make the choice to persevere in love through difficulty and challenges.  Just because something is hard – be it a job, a marriage, children, friendships, pursuing a dream – it doesn’t mean that you’re doing it wrong or even that you necessarily need to change anything.  Sometimes things are hard because you’re doing them RIGHT.  I mean, some things are just tough.  So although it was a challenge, it was also an opportunity to practice choosing joy and making the best of something that I wasn’t FEELING that great about.

We have now been in Brazil for over 8 months and I can confidently say that I am the happiest here yet and there is nowhere else I would rather be.  I know that it’s not always this quick and easy to “bounce back” from something and I know that this challenge was small compared to all of the problems out there – and for that I am truly thankful! – but for me it was a good reminder that love and joy are not always feelings but are often choices made in opposition to our feelings.  The hope is that these choices eventually do lead to a change of heart and renewed feelings, but that is not the goal.  The goal is to be obedient to God’s call on our lives.

Anyway, I know that all of this is a normal part of adjusting to life in a new country, and somehow, after coming out of it, I feel much more settled here.  More content.  More permanent.  More at home.

3 thoughts on “The 7 Month Slump

  1. Oh Ashley! This so beautifully written. I love these lines:

    “Throughout life we are called, over and over, to make the choice to persevere in love through difficulty and challenges. Just because something is hard – be it a job, a marriage, children, friendships, pursuing a dream – it doesn’t mean that you’re doing it wrong or even that you necessarily need to change anything. Sometimes things are hard because you’re doing them RIGHT. ” And this:

    ” love and joy are not always feelings but are often choices made in opposition to our feelings. ”

    Amen, such wisdom. By choosing to act and think positively, we can turn around a potentially negative attitude so much faster than just stewing. I’m so proud of you and Michael. I was just thinking of your wedding vows that you posted the other day and the part from Ruth “where you will go, I will go.” What a beautiful picture of this!

    I love you both dearly and miss you so much. 🙂

    • Emily! You are such a great encouragement to me!! Thank you so much for you love and support for both Michael and me and for helping me learn this truth about choosing joy and love. I think that you are a SHINING example of one who does this all the time (and makes it look effortless!).

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