There are many things that I find about my life now which cause me to consider myself, that that I would have never though were a part of me. What I mean by this is that at some point in the previous months and years, I would never have said that I was so much of an introvert that I would so close to tears at the idea of going somewhere new with people I don’t know. Yet, I will honestly say that is exactly how I have felt on multiple occasions as I begin to adapt to a different culture. Some of you will disagree with this only because you know me from previous moments.
I can feel myself being pulled out of my comfort zone at random moments. My tendency is to fight it, to draw back feigning security and knowledge in my comfort zone. It feels like a huge magnet—the new experience being the positive charge and I the negative charge. Did you as a kid ever play with those magnet dogs? When turned the correct way, one couldn’t go anywhere else except be drawn to its magnetizing partner. If you turned one the wrong way, you could chase the other magnet around forcing it to repel its partner.
That’s a good picture of me. I find myself drawn to this new culture, this new life. It is different. Yet, part of me wants to repel so much, to run away. I want to learn to adapt, to understand and enjoy but I wouldn’t mind going back to all things that are familiar. I’m a walking contradiction. All this was brought on by the simple knowledge that I needed to try my hand at riding a МАШРУТКА (said ma-shrew-t-ka) or bus taxi. With no language and a minimal idea of the city, I was expected to find my way to my language lesson on the other side of the river. With one of three bridges being unavailable for use, the routes of the buses changed. My handy map with bus #’s for the different streets had the possibility of leading me wrong.
I sat down for breakfast and read the words: When I said that without faith it was impossible to please Me, consider My reasoning. First of all, faith is being sure of what is hoped for and being certain that I will bring it to pass—regardless of what you can or cannot see. It is by faith that you accepted Me into your heart and by faith you are saved. It is by grace, not by works. Learn to cast all your cares upon Me, for I care for you. I am interested in everything that pertains to you. I created you, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I would not have settled for anything less. Let Me ask you this: Would you trust a perfect stranger? Certainly not. Trust and faith are the same. You cannot have one without the other. How can you have faith in someone you do not know and trust? You must learn to hear My voice and seek My face. All the faith you need is the size of a mustard seed. Consider the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds; yet, when grown to its full maturity, it becomes the largest of all. – Your Father (Taken from the book titled Hear His Voice by Michael J. Lusardi)
Yes, I know He cares even about a bus ride. Yes, I know it can’t be that complicated. Yes, I know that it is only a bus ride. Yes, I know I have the potential of sounding like a complete silly girl. What can I say? It’s all so new and strange and different!
As it turned out, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought. It just felt like I was jumping out into something new. I was terrified but I didn’t have reason to be terrified. The story goes like this: I found a taxi with the number I thought would take me to my desired drop off spot. We headed in the right direction and then promptly made a right turn I knew we shouldn’t have. The bus stopped and everyone started getting off and I was confused. Everyone was almost off the bus and I was still sitting there. An elderly lady started speaking to me and all I could do was look at her and shake my head. “I don’t know what you are saying.” I thought. I got off and found another bus with the same number so assuming it would take me to where I needed to go, I got on there to await the bus driver’s departure. Instead, we went back the direction I came from and continued on in the opposite direction that I needed to go. Again in indecision, I wasn’t sure if I should just stay on to see where I ended up or get off with no idea how to go where I needed to go. My stress mounted as the time crept closer to my 9am class. As we came to a stop out in what felt like the middle of nowhere, I spied some taxi drivers. Without much thought, I jumped from my seat. Because I had no idea how to say I wanted off, the driver began to inch back to the road. I made it to poking his shoulder while someone yelled for me to stop (or I’m assuming that’s what they said) and paid my fee without looking back.
I wish I could have taken a few steps back to take a photo of what took place next but obviously I could not. I grabbed my map from my purse and walked directly to the four older men smoking and talking. In perfect English I asked them by pointing to the map. “I want to go here. Can someone take me there?” What I didn’t know was that no one in this land looks at maps so this isn’t a typical thing for them. The four men talked among themselves until one indicated that he knew where I wanted to go and would take me. Off I went. He took me exactly where I needed to go and I was only 5 minutes late to class.
At the end of the day, I heard that voice inside me remind me of the words I read that morning. Learn to cast all your cares upon Me, for I care for you. Have faith in me. Listen to My voice. I can smile at these gentle reminders but it isn’t easy. I can sit here and look back to days not long ago. I knew that I needed to become a student, willing to learn from Father. I thought I had done so. Instead I found myself in a place where who I am and what I can do really has no value at this point. It really doesn’t matter how good at accounting or marketing or worship leading or any of the other things I could put behind my name. It makes no difference at all. Instead, I find myself at my most basic point in life—back to the days of a baby—except, as an adult, it is more difficult to be willing to be in baby stages.
Another story to prove my point. Today in one of my language classes I sat and read extremely simple Bible stories. Simple as in: Adam and Eve were created by God. He made the trees and the flowers and the sun. Nothing complex. I read them in a different language. If you had been there, you would have heard me sounding out my words just like a little kid learning to read. We can all remember those days as a child and back then, we were fine with the gentle prodding to keep going, keep sounding out the words. As an adult, I have been reduced to something so small. It’s hard to remind myself that someday this will begin to make sense, to be a little easier.
After leaving her home, I fell in a small dip in the road. One knee and both palms of my hands connected well with the street. It was enough of a jar to send me almost into fits of obsessive tears of weeping. In the cold and mist, I found myself struggling between the need to just let out the tears and holding it in so the people I walked by wouldn’t think I’m strange. I evaluated the reason I needed to cry. Was I longing for home? Am I homesick? Is this stress talking? Or was there something deeper here that I’m not seeing? Once again I found myself in conversation and found that I could not pin point my feelings to one thing. I just wanted/needed to cry it out. I do want to learn but why did He have to choose such a difficult and simple road for me? Sigh…
It is so humbling to be in language learning. I have much to be thankful about indeed—I didn’t sprain or break anything; I have great teachers and helpers who are patient and willing to help me understand both language and culture; I am making progress in the small things. If I feel this way, how much more difficult it must have been to take on a human form and be limited as we are by time and energy?
My only response is that I must bow my head. Who am I to complain about such a time in my life when I can see what it must have been like for Jesus to come to our world? Who am I to struggle with a different language when Jesus continually had to speak in terms we could understand? Who am I? Oh that I would learn how to be Mary! Oh that I would learn!