I have to say I’m just a beginner when it comes to understanding cultures outside of America. I mean, two years ago, I hadn’t even left North America before. So as I try to engage with Thai culture here, it’s seriously like stepping into a whole new world. And while the language barrier of course is a huge part of adjusting, language is just the beginning.
So in typical Holly-fashion, I kind of freaked out last week. What am I doing? Am I walking where I shouldn’t? Doing what I can’t? What if what I’m doing and saying means something totally different in this culture? And vice-versa? What if I just completely mess up, or offend someone…what if I’m rejected? And if I am accepted, does this culture replace my own?
Then I read this:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Culture is a beautiful thing, but our first allegiance is not to our country or culture…but to our God and the members of His household. In Him, we have a new culture, a new family, a new identity.
This all makes so much sense to my heart, because in deciding to stay here, I feel like people wonder if I've become passionate about missions, if that’s become my “thing.” Overseas for life, “called” to the mission field? Yet, my passions have not changed one bit. My longing is still to see God known and glorified in His Church; He’s just expanded my view of what that means…and who’s included.
After floating around in my deep thoughts for a while, I talked with my good friend, Mutarica, who knows a thing or two about different places and cultures. And instead of helping me analyze things further, she cut through everything and reminded me that it’s really quite simple.
“Just be you,” she said.
I’m not in Thailand to find belonging in a new culture, or to collect diverse friends and experiences. I just want to know these people I’ve come to love, and to know their love too.