I feel like my time here in Bangkok has been a series of one transition after another. I have moved more times here in Bangkok than I have in the entirety of the rest of my life. In the same way, due to short-term commitments to NightLight most people make, I have “made” and “lost” more friends in a two-year period time of my life than any other time. This also makes for a challenging job description as I am continually picking up new responsibilities and filling in where holes are left. This, in part has left me felling like I do not have much an identity here. Of course my identity in Christ remains, but everything else feels up in the air.
Just over the past couple of months however, I have picked up some more steady responsibilities that are playing more into my giftings. I have been teaching our women at chapel time once a week as well as helping with the “Heart Groups” that many of our women participate in where they can learn more about their identity in Christ.I feel like a part of me is being awakened again. Not that simply being a servant and doing the incredibly necessary practical things that it takes to run a business and a ministry center has not been a fulfilling, especially since it is for such an amazing purpose. But the teaching and the hope of being able to pour into people in a more spiritually deep way is stirring me up again.
However, being called up to this next level stirs up many more fears, the fear of not knowing how to truly help these women being the highest. The problem is, I have never been a woman who grew up in their particular culture and with their specific circumstances nor have I ever been in a place where I felt I had to sell my body to make a living. In fact the concept of selling my body is so outrageous to me that that is part of the reason I ended up in this line of work, to be a part of a system that breaks that cycle. No woman should have to sell the most precious part of them. That fact that sex has turned into a commodity means something is deeply wrong and it stirs up a holy discontent in me.
But how do I relate to these women and how do they relate to me? I have grown up in such privilege, and they know that. I often wonder how I would take advice from someone who clearly has never dealt with the types of things that I have gone though. After all, it is our brokenness that binds us, our ability to relate to one another because we have made the same mistakes. When I was at home working with teenagers I felt somewhat qualified because I WAS a teenager at some point who grew up in relatively the same circumstances and culture and faced all the same temptations that American teenagers face. But here, it is all so foreign, in more ways than one.
And sometimes it makes me wonder if I really belong here at all…
I guess it is a questioning of every thing… again. Because I have been here before. Caught in the middle of something I thought I understood but is becoming increasingly more ungraspable. I know this is how we mature in grow in Christ, but it is still tough.
I want to understand God so much more than I do, but there is a part of us that has to live with the dissonance of never being able totally understand the Being that we share the deepest kind of love with.
I went on a little trip a few weekends ago to visit a famous waterfall not too far from Bangkok. It was this wonderfully whimsical type of waterfall that had seven tears and all of these crystal blue pools that you could swim in at each level. It was exciting to discover each new tier and we laughed and splashed around the pools, daringly jumped off of the shorter waterfalls into the water below and watched people use some of the rocks the water was trickling down as waterslides. I felt adventurous and giddy and peaceful. And as one who is continually trying to compare life experiences to our walk with God, I immediately made the connection that this is often how our God can be. God offers us those same thins that that waterfall did. Chances to be adventurous and to have fun and to feel his peace.
But then I remembered another waterfall that I had visited on a previous trip. This waterfall was much larger and stronger with no crystal blue pools to swim in. This water was mysterious and churning from the large amounts of water pouring down from above. Standing next to it was loud and disconcerting. Looking up at its immensity filled me with a certain bit of fear. I backed up from the water’s edge worried that I might accidentally fall in, knowing that it would immediately pull me into its rolling current. It was… overwhelming. And this too, I realized, can be our God. So big and consuming that you hardly know what to do. Because however much peace our God offers us, there is still a fear that we have of this large entity that we can only begin to describe. And He can pull you in to his rolling tide before you even know what is happening…and it’s frightening.
He is the safety net, but we still must walk the tightrope. Which is both exhilarating AND frightening.
I knew that when I left America that I would be giving up a lot of securities. I knew that I would not have a steady income; I knew that my chances of a husband and a family (and therefore some form of steady support system/community in my life) would dramatically diminish; I knew that I was entering a culture that I would likely never fully fit into while evermore driving a wedge between me and my own culture; I knew that I would be entering into a battle against a large darkness that consumes Thailand and would likely only be making small seemingly insignificant dents. And these realities are all frightening if I let my self linger on thinking about it too much. The chances of failure and discouragement and looming depression are so large that I wonder how I continue to function from day to day.
But I do know how I function in my day to day, it is because our God is bigger than all of this. And although this big God and the life he calls us into can sometimes be frightening, it is worth it.
So as I wonder about my future here I will trust that my big God, for as long as he wants me here, will equip me. I will trust, that even though I do not understand everything and that sometimes I am still filled with fear of the future, that my God has a plan. And I will trust, that somehow, my God will deeply connect my world with the world of these women… with him as our all consuming God.
“I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” Psalm 52:8