strokes for my spiritual ego.

today is september 19th. we fly out on october 12th. but i leave lincoln on october 2nd. (i will go to the mill every. day.)

this means that we are getting down to the wire, and while shopping, making final appointments, and writing list after list after list, i’m also thinking a lot about how i will adjust back to life in japan.

the past few days, i’ve felt rather reluctant to go. there are plenty of reasons to want to stay in america, but the one i’ve been thinking about recently is the fact that i can communicate so easily in my native tongue. i can banter with the barista at the mill, and ask questions of the homeless man on the street. i can have a twenty-minute conversation with the mom at the park who just moved here from las vegas. i can make a quick joke when the waiter brings my drink without the pang of fear in my gut that perhaps my joke was misunderstood. i can spin lovely phrases and sound oh-so-very educated and smart. i can choose how i want others to perceive me, based on my phrasing and intonation. i can picture myself developing relationship with these people and the doors to the Gospel and Jesus opening with the slightest push from my fingers. and this must all be because i am amazing. obviously. *ahem*

in stark contrast to this, when i am in japan, i am easily misunderstood and have relatively no idea whether people “get” the spiritual things i share or not. there is a lot of awkward silence and furrowed brows, a lot of bending over the dictionary and fumbling through explanations. there is a lot of kindergarten language, i’m sure, though i’m not even positive what exactly that would constitute. one thing is for sure: there is a lot less of me, and a whole lot more of God.

when i’m in japan, i frequently pray throughout whole conversations with friends. this is not because i’m holy, or because this is what we should all be doing, or because this is my habit — here, in my own language, i don’t do that. i just talk. but in japan? in japan, i’m needy. oh God, help me know what to say next. let it be understood by her heart. if i say the wrong thing, let her ears be stopped. don’t let untrue things about You circulate because i don’t know what i’m doing. what would encourage her? would it be the same as what i would need, or different? let us have fun. let her understand. let me understand.

i’ve put it together: this is why i feel nonplussed about leaving. i am competent in america. i am smart and capable. my ego grows larger by the day.

the environment of japan does not give me these strokes. and apparently, that is exactly what i need right now. sometimes i wish it were different.. easier. but i do know that things worth having are often difficult to obtain. i think humility might be worth having.

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