Tuesday, October 27, 2015

5 Days Left - Lessons I've Learned as an Expat

Dow Gardens, Midland, MI
World View
1.  The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.

This term became popular among mission groups about 15 years ago.  I've heard a lot of speakers explain the importance of understanding your world view and expanding your world view. Why would this be important?  Because it's really hard to meet another person's needs until you understand who they are physically, culturally and spiritually.

It's also hard to reach out to another person if we don't understand where we are coming from.  That's the first place to start and some of the greatest things I've learned as an expat are about who I am.  So much shapes who we are.  Everything in our lives, up to this point, has shaped who we are.  And from this moment forward, every experience we continue to have will shape who we are tomorrow.  Moving overseas, I was suddenly faced with different.  As I looked at different I began to understand who I was and why I was that way.  Some of it was very good, but I began to see that I had a lot of barriers that I needed to break down so that I could see people in a non-judgmental way.  It takes purposeful work to change thought patterns and ideals.  These things don't happen overnight.  Once I began to see who I was and challenge myself to change, I began to see who other people were.

There's a saying that says something about not understanding someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes.  Sometimes it's not possible to walk in someone else's shoes.  Take the refugee that lives down the street.  I will never understand what they have experienced.  It's simply not possible.  But the more I work on expanding my world view, the more I can have compassion for my neighbor and respond in a helpful manner.

We will never be able to completely understand another person on this earth, because it is impossible to walk in their shoes.  But it is possible to walk next to them.  We all need fellow companions.  We need people who are willing to break down barriers and join us in our journey.

I encourage you to take some time to think about how you interpret the world.  What has you locked in a box that binds you in so you can't reach out to another person?  Take time to think about that and pray about it.  Then think of ways to change so that you are ready to walk with another person.

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