Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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

Tuesday evenings is a perfect time for my mind to do a bit of reflecting.  I leave work at 5, walk 30 minutes to the area where my Bible study is, then I have until 7:00 to fill until we begin.  I love the walk, down a busy street, lined with food stalls, moped mechanic garages and tennis shoe shops.  The largest university in Taiwan is on one side of the street so the area is full of the young, hip crowd.  I take a jog off the main street onto a busy, narrow, side road.  Usually I take this to another main street and snuggle in at Starbucks for an hour, but tonight, I found a great little tea and brownie shop.  When I sit down, I take out my ipad and email or blog.  The walk and the empty time are perfect for letting my mind reflect on the day, the week, the month, my life, my family, my God.  I really get to pull my thoughts together and ponder them-uninterrupted.

Tonight I'm thinking about the Bible study I'm getting ready to go to.  I'll admit, it's been a bit of a disappointment.  I had heard how amazing this type of study was.  How you go deep and God teaches you great things.  Well, it's not happening for me.  I find the reading boring and the questions elementary.  In the group we go through every single questions and just give an answer then move onto the next question.  There's no, "Did anyone struggle with that?"  or "Are you amazed at the love God shows here?"  We are actually encouraged not to dig deeper, to just let the word speak for itself.  So I'm trying very hard, but I've realized that this particular study is not going to be for me.  I'm probably not going to learn great truths or be changed in some mysterious way.

It's not about me.  But what I'm beginning to discover is that it is about the new Christian woman in my group who is learning and discovering, and I get to help her with that and encourage her.  And it's about the woman who is doing this study in English, but really struggling with the translation.  I get to help explain God's word to her and smile when she tries to formulate thoughts in her second, or third or fourth language.  It's about the woman in my group whose husband died not long ago and is in need of comfort greater than I can give.  She is finding it by immersing herself in scripture daily and surrounding herself with women who love God.  (Me!)

It's so easy to get wrapped up in ME.  To go to church for me.  To be in a Bible study to satisfy my needs.  It's easy to get comfortable when I've done something forever.  When I only do Beth Moore studies, or meet with the same women.  When I take my focus off my wants and comfort, I begin to see all these little areas where God is using me to bless other women.  I want that.  My attitude is changing.  I'm still excited to go to study each week, but the reasons have changed.  I'm excited to learn more about these women, to give them a hug and a smile.  To send them off with love and encouragement to help them get through the week.

Are you too comfortable in life with the same old routine?  Where are you disappointed in life?  Can you see how God might pulling out of your ME focus and instead be using you to love on and encourage others?  It feels good to know that God uses me!

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