I’ve been wondering recently how many things I’ll regret posting on this blog.
How many times will I look back and think: Did I really think that? Or even worse, Did I really have the nerve to say that? What a foolish twenty-something I was! Or maybe I’ll look back and think how rude this came across, or how arrogant that portrayed me; how wishy-washy it all sounded.
I’m probably all of these things and more. And you should most definitely take all of this with a grain of salt.
That said, here’s comes more commentary, likely still without conclusion and containing many of the aforementioned faults.
I think the hardest thing I have had to wrestle with in coming to Thailand is grace: receiving it, giving it, resting in it.
I love pleasing people. I want them to think I made the right decision; that I did a good job; that the food tasted great. But the reality is, it’s never right for everyone.
Here are just a few examples I’ve encountered.
We live in a two-bedroom concrete house in Mae Sot. It has a kitchen with mediocre but limited resources. We do have electricity and water inside our house. We do have a squatty potty, and a sometimes-hot shower. We have a comfortable bed for this country, but awful for the West. The house came furnished with poor quality furniture, which we are slowly replacing by purchasing things we like and are good enough quality to withstand daily use.
To our neighbors, we are extravagant. We eat extravagantly–noodles, vegetables, and milk! We have running water inside of our home, have air con in one room, and even shower behind closed doors.
To the Partners staff within Mae Sot, it varies. Some think its insane to have an electric bill as high as $22; others think it’s ridiculous I won’t purchase chocolate chips because they are too expensive, and compassionately buy some for Stephen on occasion. To other Partners staff, we live in a hole, and it’s ridiculous that we wouldn’t replace that squatty potty with a proper Western sitter!
And then you have our friends and family from the West–some who can’t understand why we would live in this neighborhood; others who can’t believe we have a two-bedroom place.
Or take just last week: Stephen & I went to Chiang Mai for a few days vacation. We stayed at a guesthouse costing $16 per night. It worked for us.
Some thought it extravagant that we would get a guesthouse. Another asked, “You came for vacation and stayed where?!”
I know its true around the world, but I find it more apparent here. Everyone will not be pleased.
Instead, I am learning to be confident in each decision we make.
May we pray, may we think it through, may we do the best we can to have pure motives, wise steps, and love in all we do. And then, may we go forward with confidence: confidence that God is good, that he loves us, that we tried.
And ultimately, that His grace is sufficient for the fact that the best I have to offer is mere rags.
…I think there’s a step further to this, though.
I want to extend this grace to others.
I know how discouraging other’s judgments are. I know when I feel insufficient, foolish, wasteful, cheap, or frivolous.
And I know that can be particularly painful when I’ve invested myself in that decision by praying, analyzing, and wrestling; or maybe when I’m just trying to stay afloat.
And I simply wish they’d extend grace to me: grace that I tried, and that I’m just a kid! Grace that this might be hard, or maybe they don’t know the whole picture; grace that I might be wrong, but they probably have been before, too.
And in order to hope for this grace from others, I think I should begin by giving it. I don’t know what its like in their shoes. I don’t know what they’ve been through this week, year, or lifetime; I don’t know what God has been doing in them and through them. Maybe, just maybe, they have really prayed and wrestled, too; maybe they are just doing the best they can, trying to keep their head above water.
We’re not so different, really. We all live in a fallen world, and we’re all aching and hoping for glorious redemption.
So that’s all, really–I’m just learning.
I’m learning to rest confidently in God’s grace. And I’m in the very early stages of attempting, oh-so-simply attempting, to give grace as I wish to receive it.