Has this ever happened to you….that you want to zig when others are zagging? That you want to be free of the expectations that others (and especially you) put on yourself? That although you look similar to those around you, you feel remarkably different on the inside?
Our family is from the US, but at this time God has us planted in SE Asia. It’s easy when we are surrounded by people with almond shaped eyes and varying shades of brown skin to tell, yep those blue eyed white folk are different. And yet, after being here a few years, we are more different when we go back “home” for a visit than we are here.
Sure we look more the same on the outside when we are in the US, but inside we are forever changed. We live for 10+ months each year thousands of miles from the nearest Target. Clothing shops never carry our size or it has too many Xs on the tag for us to even consider it (vanity/pride here). Grocery shopping involves the fruit stand, the veggie stand, the butcher + the grocery for dairy items. We only speak a bit of the local language and a smattering of English is spoken here.
This time has been amazing, hard, good, hard, thrilling, hard…you get the idea.
But truly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Looking back, I wonder how my soul survived the push from the cul-de-sac life to have the best house, best car, kids with the best grades that performed the best in their particular sport, best marriage, best vacations, etc. First world problems for sure.
Here where we are obviously different, it is easy to life counter-culture. We can easily say, we value attending church vs. a soccer tournament on Sunday mornings and there won’t be a backlash from the community bought into my child “letting the team down” by making that choice. We can choose to have family dinners around a table instead of dividing and conquering getting everyone to their separate activities. We can ride a bicycle or walk to most of the places we want or need to go. There is freedom from judgement of not conforming because our community is made up of people from many different nations and past experiences.
Additionally, in a developing nation, I am sensitive to spending $25 for one meal for our family of 4 when that same amount could feed a local family for a week or more. Instead of living in a country club community in the preferred section of town away from homelessness, I step right outside my door and see poverty. People working hard, long hours at work that the old me would have considered “less than” to provide for their family. (See below the garbage/recycling/repurposing truck where men physically sort EVERYTHING they pick up curbside).
And you know what, I am grateful for that reality check. I grateful for the reminder that it isn’t about the stuff, but making the best of what you have. And you know what else I’ve noticed. People that do that, are happy.
So I will continue to strive to be different than the “old me”. I will die to myself and my rights until I am living the life that most pleases the God I serve. Being different is my new best me!
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2