Thursday, 7 July 2011

What if?

Usually it is not a good idea to try and reinvent our past. No amount of reinventing is going to change anything that is already set in concrete but just occasionally it is an interesting exercise. It helps me to see just exactly where the hand of God has played a significant role and where I have been quietly been prepared.

Sometimes it is in the simple things. Like my name, Marianne. The story from my parents, who are Dutch born, is that they wanted to give me a Kiwi name so that I could easily fit into their new homeland of New Zealand. Great theory but the problem is that it is very much not a Kiwi name-it is a classic French name. Marianne is in fact one of the symbols of the French Republic and represents their motto of Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité. As it so happens, on a personal level I am very passionate about each of these principles.

And then there are my high school years. I was put into an academic streamed class and for some strange reason which is unclear, they gave us an additional compulsory subject just for our class of 30 odd students of French. Although my French classes at high school were more years ago than I care to count, what if I had never had any lessons? I had included France on my list of possible countries to live in and pray about because of those classes many moons ago. I was blessed to have a basic understanding of the French language when I came here which has been essential.

A little amusing aside for me happened when I was to be confirmed a member of the Catholic Church at the age of 12. We were asked to choose a patron saint whose name we would take upon ourselves. I had asked the nuns if I could take upon myself the name of Jesus Christ and they were horrified at the sacrilege. So in my second choice I decided upon Joan of Arc or Jeanne D'Arc as she is known here. Of all the many thousands of possible saints to choose from, I had adopted one of the most potent symbols again for the French people. There are statues of her everywhere! I might add that I was the only one of my classmates to have chosen a French saint.

So little preparations for my great adventure in France seemed to be in place right from birth. When I worked for LDS Family Services in NZ more than 22yrs ago I was sent for training to the USA to learn how to run sexual abuse support groups. At the time it was a very powerful revelation that I would need this training to help women who were suffering and yet I fell pregnant with my first son shortly after returning from this training and I was only able to apply it on a very limited basis before I left the job to be a stay at home Mum. At that stage I could not see ahead. The direction of my work then changed considerably to more administration roles. Never in my dreams did I see myself now working again with women who have suffered sexual abuse so many years later.

More recently, while living in Whangarei I made the decision to leave my very secure and promising government job to start a business with a business partner. It seemed totally illogical at that time and even foolhardy to take a significant cut in pay and face the possibility that I would not be able to get contracts to sustain my family of 4 children. I was motivated by the idea that I could spend more time with them and be more flexible to participate in their lives but it was a huge risk, a leap in the dark made only easier by the strong confirmation of the spirit. What if I had let my fears at that time decide my course of action? What if I had stayed in my lovely government management position?

I was able to have 6 years in Whangarei watching my business grow and my income along with it. With careful saving I was able to have enough financial reserves to survive here in Paris for the first significant period of time that I could never have been able to achieve on a salary. In addition, because I was able to show that I had already operated a successful business the French Embassy was persuaded that I could operate one here and I was able to obtain a visa. So the decision to take the leap of faith and start that business at the beginning has had huge consequences for my mission here.

If it is true that the Lord prepares our lives that far ahead then it makes our day to day decisions that much more important on a spiritual level. The seemingly small decisions we make may have long reaching consequences later on in our stay on earth. I don't want to play around too much with "What if?" I would rather be able to say "Thank goodness I decided that!"

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