When I first arrived in Graz, I didn’t have much to do. I had a couple acquaintances (many of whom later became friends), only 6 hours of orientation spread out over three days, no knowledge of German, and very little knowledge of the city I found myself transplanted in.
So, I bought a pad of paper and some colored pencils, and I drew out three phrases that I knew were good for me to remember.
“Be joyful always,” Not so easy when you’re starting over in a foreign country and feel a little bit alone.
“Pray continually,” Right. You don’t need to tell me twice. “Jesus, where can I find a bathroom?” “How do I get home?” “Can I have a friend, please?”
“Give thanks in all circumstances.” Look at what you’ve got, not all the things you’re missing.
It was a good thing to have up, since I spent a lot of time sitting in my room and wondering, what I was going to do with myself?Look at the wall. Oh, well, I suppose I’ll be joyful, pray, and give thanks. Then maybe I’ll take a walk.
Since I hadn’t found a church yet either, I watched a lot of Beth Moore teaching videos online. Whenever she said something that resonated in my heart, I added it to the wall.
“The essence of covenant is loyal loving.”
“‘Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are.’ I Cor. 5:7…We can’t let our past characterize our present.”
“Only God can love like God.”
These visual snippets were ringing true in my life. I am new, God loves me unfailingly, and I love because He loves me.
I kept adding to it as I kept learning. The wall doesn’t encompass everything I’ve learned this semester, but I’ve got some poignant parts of what I’m learning in everyday view.
“If God doesn’t do it, it’s not going to happen… If we forget the Giver, it can become an idol. It is God who has done this thing.” – Tim Dilena
“Taste defeat, then brush your teeth.” – Relient K
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus, and because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death… And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” – Romans 8
“Love comes from God. No one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.” – I John 4
“Be not proud of race, face, or place; it’s all by grace.” – Charles Spurgeon, as quoted by Tim Dilena
“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.” – Emily Dickinson
When I’m not sure what my health insurance covers or don’t know how to not miss home or have no idea what my American Lit exam will be like, I have something to look at. These are my certainties. When the world shifts from under my feet or when I shift above the earth in a jet, God stays the same, and even though not all of these truths come straight from a sermon, they are true as well.
Opposite that wall is a reminder of where I am and where I came from.
My map of Graz, my pictures of friends and family, and all the cards that people have sent me since I’ve been here.
Thank you to all of you who helped me decorate my walls, whether with a card or for being in a picture, or for speaking truth into my life. You’ve helped make my room a happy place to be.