It’s 6:15 am and sweat is pouring out of every pore on my body. “Faster Jessica, faster”, shouts my boot camp instructor. Sprint, push-ups, squats, weights, stair-climbs. I feel like he’s trying to kill me. Yet I keep pushing. As much as I want to hate this man for insane workout he’s laid out before me, something deep inside tells me to keep going.
Before I left, I checked the temperature. It was 89 degrees, but with the humidity it would feel like 99 degrees. I”‘m a mountain girl”, I tell myself. I don’t belong here. I need cool, crisp air. I’m uncomfortable, yet I keep going with sweat dripping off of me in ways I’ve never experienced before being here. No, I can do this! My muscles scream at me to just hold still, but I fight back – pushing.
I should have stayed in bed, or at the very least, curled up on the couch with a blanket to read. This was a mistake. Yet somehow, I keep going back for the brutal workout, day after day.
This constant inner battle could easily describe my daily life just as well as my workout. I find countless reasons to want to run away. To jump on a plane and go back “home” to where things are safe and comfortable. To where the air is cool and the views are spectacular. To a place where I don’t need to push myself.
It’s hot, dusty, and dry. I love the Sea, but I could do without the rest of the country. I loathe wearing my black polyester abaya, which in this heat, feels like a prison (though I am thankful I don’t have to wear it often). The inefficiency and frustration caused by how slow things move here makes me want to scream and fall into the role of an “angry American.”
I long to see the mountains. To jump in a cool river and sleep out under the stars. I want to talk for hours next to a campfire with my friends while my kids are snuggled deep into their sleeping bags. I want to be able to take off whenever I want and go out hiking with my kids. But, I can’t – I’m here, in Saudi Arabia, and I’m a woman.
Then, just when every fiber of my being screams at me to give up, I find the extra push to keep going. As God pulls me up and making me stronger. Despite my early parenting ideas that when kids get older, they will be easier, these four of mine just keep demanding more and more of me. I now know it’s not going to stop. I must become stronger. And I am.
I have no choice, which is often the best way. We’ve chosen to be here. It’s often uncomfortable and painful. Yet, just like my exercise, I keep getting better and stronger. As much as I want to hate it, it feels good to stretch like this. Though we are enjoying our time, my heart longs for the things that I loved and left behind at home. It’s a journey in self-discovery if nothing else. Often the hardest things require the most work, and we have big goals we’re reaching for.
Was this move the biggest mistake we’ve ever made or our most defining moment?
Only time will tell…