Hey there beautiful people. So, here I am back in the states. I’ve been here a while, but I am just now deciding to continue this whole blog thing. I have been adjusting to American culture, and let me tell you, it has been tough. I was warned by the missionaries I served with in Guatemala that reverse culture shock is something I would likely experience. And my, I certainly have.
It is a strange feeling to be shocked by the attitudes and behaviors of the people I am usually surrounded by. It is unsettling to find myself disgusted by consumerist things I hear on television, on the radio, and even out of the mouths of people I love. I have gone through times of feeling directionless and purposeless, realizing how self-serving my typical day-to-day life is. I missed (and still do with all of my heart) the people I had the opportunity of living life with for five weeks. I miss the smiles from beautiful faces as I played English vocabulary games in dusty classrooms. I miss the laughter of children playing games with hula hoops and watching our over-dramatized skits about the parables of Jesus. I miss the sweet abandonment of praises sung in church services. I miss more than anything the deep relationships I had with extraordinary people.
And as I could rattle off a list of countless other things I miss from Guatemala, the hard truth is that I am not there right now. I am back in the U.S. getting ready for a new season of life. My last year of college. A season that will lead me to…well, only the Lord knows that right now. I indeed plan to continue pouring into those extraordinary people’s lives through prayer and support of God’s work in Guatemala as much as I can. However, I cannot let my entire being be consumed with the desire to be in a place where God does not have me in this season. If I do that, I will completely lose sight of what He has for me to do right here, right now. I cannot forget that Christ’s call to make disciples of all nations is everywhere, whether it is in impoverished Guatemalan villages or in beautified cities where there are also hurting, impoverished hearts.
It honestly makes me sad to think that I have not been doing that all along: making disciples. And let me just expand on that a little bit. Whenever I used to hear the term “make disciples,” it was always a little unsettling for me to think of myself doing such a thing. How could I claim to be making disciples? I have been realizing that I am not in any way glorifying myself as a better Christian if I am “making disciples.” I am simply sharing Christ’s love. Sharing life. I don’t have to be a super holy and amazing person (which is nice, because I am not that) in order to invite people to be fellow disciples of Christ.
I am realizing that I don’t have to be a super put-together, charismatic person to share life with people. I just need to love them. Show them that they are very loved. I think being there for people is the first step and bridge-making move I can make in order to share Christ. I have been so blessed to be able to experience living in this way in Guatemala. The first thing I can do is just pray for God’s grace to radically love people. I have no reason not to do that every single day, wherever I am. I do not have to be an intern in a foreign country to do that. I do not at all discount the value of sharing the gospel with people. I need to do that too. But I’m thinking that evident, radical, real love comes first.
And next on my list of revelations is the culture shock part. Boy. Consumerism. Whoa, America. And I include myself in that. How was I so content with the same few sets of outfits for over a month and yet, I am now under pressure to make sure I have enough “professional” outfits in order to make a good impression in schools as I go into student teaching this school year? How do I find a balance between being “presentable” and not striving to be Ms. “Glamour teacher”? It has been so easy for my mind to sway from one extreme to another…lying in bed, mourning at all of the unneeded stuff I have in my room when there are children wandering the streets of big Guatemalan cities begging to shine strangers’ shoes for a little money…
And then I will shamefully admit that I’ve done the opposite by browsing through online clothing boutiques, mentally designing the cute teacher outfits I could wear for my next practicum. Lord, forgive me for my consumerist tendencies.
It is indeed a journey I am on. Trying to figure out how to live in one place, yet not forget the impact that the consumerism of my own culture has upon the people of another culture. I am not saying that each purchase made by people in the United States contributes to global poverty, but what I am saying is that I guarantee that I could find at least one item of clothing in my own closet that was made in a Guatemalan sweatshop, most likely by a child. I can place faces with those facts now. How could I have had such a deeply rich experience and yet, still live without any change of lifestyle? Still thinking about unnecessary purchases. What is dressing to be respectful of what is expected in a profession, and what is submitting to a culture that is twisted and all-too-focused on picture perfect appearances? How do I find a happy medium? Still figuring this out. Like I said, it’s a journey toward balance.
And now that I have referenced the issue of “picture perfect” and finding balance, I have been on a journey in the area of not being held by the idea of “picture perfect” as well. You may have noticed that I am wearing a shirt with MARILYN Monroe on it in the picture at the top of this post. What a beauty that woman was. What an inspiration she still is…to bash the ideas that women have been bombarded with about beauty. Ever since the introduction of skeletal supermodels and photoshop and unrealistic Barbie dolls, girls have been showered with the idea that these images represent ultimate beauty.
Marilyn Monroe, to me, has been a recent representation of the fact that being over a size 2 is not a tragedy. I am on a journey to being ok with being larger than Hollywood would encourage. It is a difficult journey. If you know me well, you know that health is a huge theme of importance in my life. I desire greatly to take care of the body I’ve been given, yet I’ve become so concerned with being healthy that I have become unhealthily obsessed with my physical appearance. But through God’s grace, I hope to believe that I am on my way out of a season of unhealthy obsession with health and into a healthy perspective on a balanced life. Gratefulness for the body I can use to dance, run, and do yoga. Eating healthy not to lose weight, but simply to enjoy more fully the body I’ve been given. Exercising not to simply burn calories, but to enjoy the energy it gives me for the day.
I am on a journey to live each day concerned with much more important things than the fashionable outfits I long to buy (only to tire of them within months) or the size of my jeans or the measurement of my waist. I am on a journey to love those around me in the exact way in which Christ has instructed me to do. To be most concerned with living like Jesus did. I am journeying to live each and every day in remembrance of Ephesians 2:10…
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Whether I am in my home town of Louisville, Kentucky or my university in Wilmore or in a village in Sumpango, Guatemala, I know I am made to live like Christ, sharing His love in every way that I can.
Through His grace.