With the struggle of making yet another move, and to a culture I’ve felt very little in common with (though thankfully that’s an evolving story), also came the realization and reminder that even on the days I simply don’t see it and the days I definitely can’t feel it, God is still in control.
God’s control of things is not like it may sound. I’m not a chess piece on His game board. But then, life is no game board is it? Chess in fact, is something which really smart people can learn to play and both players may even be able to predict with a certain degree of certainty or at least narrow down the options for the move of the other player. Life isn’t like that. Life, from the human perspective, is the very definition of unpredictable–no matter how clever you may be. That’s why I’m glad that though God has given me utmost freedom, He sees the whole thing (life on earth) from start to finish and has also ordained certain things to be the way they are.
Here are some ways I’ve recently experienced this truth:
1. God led me to learn the German language – I moved to Germany partially to be closer to Ber when we were dating. But I ended up still over five hours a way, and I knew that (life with all its unpredictability) I needed a goal and purpose for my time there. So I poured myself into learning German. While the German part of Switzerland, where we now live, has their own VERY unique spin on the German language, I can definitely get by with high German. This helps so much, and I hope earns a smidgen of their respect that I didn’t leave America expecting not to integrate. Beyond the language study I’ve done, I am convinced of a higher power. God helps me on a daily basis when it comes to communicating. For someone who learned their first German words (other than ‘gesundheit’ and ‘danke’) in 2013, every single social interaction where German is involved still feels like its own tiny miracle.
2. God answered questions when nobody else could. Before moving to Switzerland we asked countless questions of the immigration offices and everyone we knew of who might know, how an American can receive the rights to live and work in Switzerland. We heard many, many disheartening answers, but most disheartening of all is that they were all different and many contradicted the other answers we were given. We worried about how this would go for literally years. But when it came down to it, although research is important, faith is key. After our wedding we searched and searched for an apartment in several different cantons. Finally, the only one we even stood a chance of having, was in a canton very near to the German border. What we didn’t know until after we moved here and had officially began the process, was that this canton’s requirements were much, much more reasonable and feasible than the other cantons where we’d been looking. (And as a bonus, this apartment was by far our favorite of all the ones we had looked at!) Answers often come after the first step of faith.
3. God provided Church at the right place and the right time. In 2015, while I was still unmarried and living in Germany, I ventured across the border to Switzerland (literally just a 5 minute walk from the bus stop in Germany) to a church I’d found online. I liked it from the get go, and Ber even went with me a few times. After getting married and finding our apartment on this side of the border, we realized this church remained our best option. It is a 15 minute train ride away, and a mixture of Swiss and German people who have been eager to help us to adjust to our new life here. After my last years abroad and being “on my own” I know this kind of support from other believers is absolutely critical.
4. God gave me a love for some very Swiss things : cheese, potatoes and chocolate. That’s a bit tongue in cheek and a bit incriminating– Who admits that food can be so comforting or even a sign from heaven? But, have you ever actually tried raclette? Then you’d know the answer to the question. When it comes to chocolate, believe it or not, I wasn’t always a huge fan. But Swiss chocolate? It’s a whole new world of creamy brown goodness…
In all seriousness, this is an extremely helpful list for me to come back to on those days when it seems we’ve been asked a million times “why Switzerland?” and our answer is no more creative than before. We have our logical reasons. But in the end, only God really knows.