They came from all over the world. Women needing space and grace to process life.
A time to breathe.
Being one of the volunteers coming alongside to encourage and pamper them was a wonderful opportunity for me to give back.
Living in America, it’s easy to overlook the ease with which I fit into my culture. White, English-speaking, with the added advantage of owning our own home. Most of the time, John and I are the only ones living at our home. Enough personal space.
Traveling to the other side of the world, I’ve dealt with women who live in a culture where they don’t communicate in their heart language because it isn’t the dominant one of their location. Many have landlords that are of another culture than their own. Smaller living spaces. Becoming the visitors; no longer the natives.
They live with purpose. Often that purpose is compounded by the challenge of transition. Being an alien in a world they weren’t born into. Being reminded daily that home and family are far away.
Their identity isn’t in their job nor the country in which they live. It’s not in how well they speak a language or how easily they’ve conformed to different customs. Their identity is in the One they serve.
They work to learn languages that don’t always come easily. They make friends with neighbors and learn to cook with ingredients they didn’t grow up with. They embrace new traditions and help their children adjust to new ways of living.
This world isn’t our home. None of us chooses what country, family, culture we’d be born into. Where we live helps define who we are. But location doesn’t tell the whole story.
Who we choose to follow does.
Mastering a language often means making mistakes. Mispronunciations that can embarrass. Learning to communicate in someone else’s heart language will take time, energy and effort.
It’s worth it when the smile on the face of the person across from you is genuinely grateful for going the extra mile to speak to them in a way they’re comfortable.
Life isn’t easy. No one is entitled to do as they like, act as they like, treat others as they like. We share a planet and need to learn to focus on the good things we have. The hope that we all have.
If we only accept it.
It’s easy to complain about a broken dishwasher–forgetting the places in the world that have no running water. It’s easy for a child to refuse to taste his meal because he thinks he doesn’t like it–forgetting that many go to bed every night hungry. It’s easy to complain about others who aren’t like me–forgetting the world is full of individuals with unique stories.
And all have value.
I need to remember to be thankful for each day because it’s one more opportunity to make a difference. To show love and care to someone who may not expect it. To reach out to someone who’s lonely.
To remember that I have a living hope in Jesus.
Because it’s all too easy to forget.