It’s hard to believe that 4 years ago today we (at that time a family of 3) boarded a plane and left the USA to move to China. We didn’t know Chinese, didn’t know where we would live, and our entire life was packed up in 8 suitcases. Today, I was reflecting with Chris as we went out for a Valentines Day date what some of the biggest things I’ve learned are:
1. Community. I happen to be a very independent woman, that is evident to all who know me. And though at times I get so frustrated at feeling incompetent living here because I can’t fully communicate, have to wait for a bus rather than hop in my car to get errands done, or never know what items will be in stock at the store- I have changed in that I see community is the core of life. Not just a part of life, but what brings us true life and joy. Independence has its gifts, but it also has its drawbacks. To need others is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of humility in understanding the beauty and gifts each individual person brings to a group. This is with friends who become family, neighbors who stop by to ask if you need anything, and family across the ocean who, though they miss you beyond words, offer constant support and love. Community has become our way of life. For example, when was the last time you went to the store and called a friend first to see if they needed anything? It happens all the time here. We just do life together. The good and the bad, there is nothing we can’t be open about.
2. Health. Now this is not really because of China but just a huge change in my life since living here. For those of you who just know me as always talking about Turbo or fitness you have no idea how far I have come. I used to be known as the girl who would eat a pint of ice cream for breakfast (several days a week). I could down at least 6-7 Krispy Kreme doughnuts before even starting to feel like maybe it was a lot of sugar. Seriously! So as you can imagine it’s an amazing transformation that has happened over time as I myself lost weight, and now actually get to help others do the same. I may actually be one of ‘those’ people that I used to think were crazy for how they worked out and ate so healthy!
3. God. I know. So if there is one thing I have ever been true to it’s being real. So here it is. I’ve been in full-time ministry for 15 years now. When we came to China 4 years ago I was so overdone with worship times, and talk after talk about God. Maybe I can relate it to eating an amazing steak day after day. Sure you love it. But eventually even that great steak may just begin to be another ordinary thing in your life. Obviously, it’s a stark contrast to compare God to a steak, I’m not meaning disrespect. I was tired of just filling up on God to go fill up more on God. I feel like loving God should be synonymous with being a good human, but I could see areas in my life where there was a disconnect with this reality. Add that to the fact that I was processing through a ton of theology that I had come to realize I didn’t really believe in and I was all kinds of crazy. (And processing in the U.S., a country where everyone has a million thoughts to tell you about how they think and what you should think made that even crazier.) It’s been a challenging, up and down time of processing, to say the least.
Fast forward now 4 years. I feel as if the light is dawning and fresh spring air is coming. There is rain falling on the weary places in my heart that have wrestled with all the questions. In that I begin to dream and come out on the other side more secure than ever in the vast glorious appreciation of who God is. Don’t think you can’t find God in a country where Communism and Atheism are the main (or at least official) ideologies; it’s been in that very place of silence and isolation that seeds of life have been planted and are beginning to grow once again.
I’m not naive to think that China is the only place such lessons can be learned, it just happens to be where I have learned mine. If you looked back over just the last year what would you say is the biggest thing you have learned (or are learning)?
With all my love,