Tuesday, October 3

a place to belong

I'm reading this morning in Lamentations. A paraphrase:

This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
His loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning.
Great is your faithfulness.
He is my portion, says my soul.
Therefore I have hope.
He is good to those who wait for him, to the person who seeks him.
It's good that he waits silently for real hope and life.

I've also been listening this week to messages over itunes from a popular fellowship. Some of them have been on loneliness. I'm not grateful enough for the small amount of loneliness I feel. Being here, single, in a foreign country where my grasp of the language is far from where it should be, not exactly sure of what the next semester holds for me, with many friends but not really any super close ones ... you would think I'd be a great candidate for discontent, or loneliness, or homesickness, or something.

So, I wonder sometimes, why am I happy most of the time? Why do I not want to move back to the States? Why do I look for ways to stay here and learn more of the language instead of looking for ways or a reason to go home and find a husband and a real job? I don't know. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just weird. Actually, I'm pretty convinced that I am weird. Living in China feels normal. Sometimes I have to even remind myself that I'm living in a foreign country. When my sister and brother in law came this summer to Yanji, it felt so normal to me (as if they were just visiting me in America or something) that I had to keep reminding myself that they were probably experiencing all this new stuff, including food that it took me a while to learn to like, that was not normal to them!

I just finished student interviews. At the beginning of every semester, we interview every student in our classes to get to know them a little. This semester, many students (maybe more than before?) were curious about when I will go home and find a husband. They are interested in whether or not I am interested in Chinese guys, and whether it's normal for American girls my age not to be married. One girl assumed that the next time I go home I will go and stay til I find a husband, and then I should come back to China. I didn't know how to explain to her that my best chance of finding a husband who shares similar views and goals with me is found here, even if it seems like my chances are super small.

Recently, a teacher here told us at dinner that he was interested in a girl in another country where he was living before. He decided not to pursue her because she was so interested in staying in that country and he didn't think he wanted to stay there forever. Then, one of his friends started dating her and they got married and moved to the guy's home country. So, I asked him if he was glad he didn't get a girl who would give up her vision or if he was sad that he didn't go for her because she would give up her dream to follow a guy. Then I started to wonder if I fell in love with a guy who didn't share my vision, would I give up what I've been planning for to go with him? In one way, I would think it would be a waste of what I've spent my time on the past few years. On the other hand, it's right for a woman to give up things for the man. Anyhow, that's a far off thought since I don't have anyone like that on the horizon.

But that's a different topic. Today, I'm thinking about where I belong. I've made a decision not to go home for the winter. That may be an open invitation for loneliness, because winters here are long, cold, there are not many people on campus. But, I know that I need to expose myself to that kind of time because I need to learn discipline and dependency on him. I'm thinking about how I am missing out on things at home - time with family and the fellowship at home, my cousin's baby growing up, a weekend of my sister and three girl cousins getting together in the metroplex, and all sorts of other things. I wish I could have the best of both worlds, but since I have to make the choice, I can't imagine moving back home at this point. I can't imagine giving up this life of discovery and the reminders that come through this life I live that tell me that life is a breath. Choices are important. China is not my home, but neither is Texas or anywhere else in the world.

So, today, I'm grateful for the hope that I know, for the satisfaction I have in living here, for the lovingkindness that never ceases, for the newness of every morning, and that when I don't feel these things, that waiting silently is also good.


Anonymous said...

hi lela, this post encouraged me mucho. miss you. -jina

Rachael said...

You know, you are such an encouragement. You are voicing some of my exact thoughts, but it's so good to know someone else has thought it. Obviously, I made my choice to come home. But I don't feel like it's home anymore. Is China? Maybe. Maybe not. I think I'm going to continually be homesick until I make my way to where our father is.