I can hardly describe the sensation it was that overwhelmed me while I was home. Being in Thailand had made an unquestionable change in me and leaving it felt very weird. I loved being home and seeing family and catching up with friends, but the whole time I felt very… unsettled. I knew that my heart and my purpose was elsewhere and the longer I stayed in the states the more unsettled I felt.
I had no idea Thailand was going to grow on me the way it did. Southeast Asia was never a dream of mine. When I thought of being a missionary, it was always in Africa or South America in some off the map place with no electricity and rare communication with the outside world. As far as I was concerned, Bangkok was a stepping-stone to somewhere else.
But as is the case with many love affairs, Bangkok took me my surprise…
After having been gone for quite a bit longer than I wanted, when it was finally time to return, part of me feared that there was going some sort of awkward transition back into to Thai life. I was happy to find out slipping back in was quite normal.
Like returning home, every thing felt welcoming and familiar.
And what a wonderful thing to realize that Bangkok is home to me. Not home in the sense of “this is where I am from” but home in the sense of “this is where my life is.” And I mean life in the strongest sense of the word.
I feel so lucky to be here.. well, not lucky, blessed. When I was home most people that heard about what I was doing thanked me or responded to me with a “you are so sacrificial for moving to Bangkok and doing the kind of work that you do” kind of way. Truth be told, that always made me kind of uncomfortable. I don’t feel like I am making a sacrifice so much. I love where I am and I love what I do… there are so many other people that cannot say that.
I was walking down a street in Bangkok with a friend the other night taking in the sights and the noises and the eccentricities of the place. Bangkok never ceases to fascinate me. There is always so much more to discover. It is so immense; there is so much going on, so much pain, yet also much joy. The culture and everything surrounding it seems almost too big to get my head around, but still, it is my home and I am settled within it.
Beautifully enough, concurrently, there is another settling process going on. Knowing and settling into God’s love has always been somewhat of a battle to me. I have, for a very long time, known God’s love in the factual sense, but there seemed to always be a part of me that couldn’t quite understand it in the deep emotive sense. Without overtly knowing it, there always seemed to be a small part of me that longed to earn more of Gods love. As if there was something I needed to do to tap into the fullness of it. And more than that, every failure, every time I seemed not to measure of to some invisible standard, I somehow felt that God was disappointed in me.
In one of my very early blogs at the beginning of my move to Thailand, I talked about the crisis of irrelevance. How moving from a place that I had a very clear role and function in a position of leadership and familiarity to a place where I knew no one, had no clear role as of yet, and had to learn everything, including the language, from scratch was teaching me painfully how to define myself in God and not in what I do.
Over my first year in Thailand I let God, perhaps for the first time, love on me in that way, freeing myself of the self imposed guilt of not being better or doing more. I am happy to say that I am finally coming to a place where I have never felt more settled into God’s love. Not comfortable complacency, but true freedom.
I am looking forward to so much this year. I can’t wait to see what God is going to continue to do with me and with this ministry he has chosen me to be a part of.