Friday, May 22, 2009

The Space Between

I'm sure it sounds like a strange thing to say, but I was feeling particularly unMalaysian this week. So it was really nice to go to an event tonight where I was surrounded by Malaysians - the most Malaysians I've seen in one place in nearly 2 years if you don't count last year's Christmas hols when I was home. I went to hear a well-known Malaysian political figure speak - I won't mention his name right now, but you all know who he is. Even asked a question, which is rare for me since I'm usually silent at Q&A sessions since I never come up with anything good to ask. That hasn't changed - my question was pretty lousy and I wished I'd sharpened it up!

But I am in a strange place right now. I'm currently part of a British world, yet not part of it. Like something grafted on. There're so many things I just don't understand or am not comfortable with. But I'm going to need time to feel fully Malaysian again, I suspect. I remember just thinking about all the conversations I heard when I was back, and again when I (unintentionally!) eavesdropped on another conversation amongst Malaysians just a few days ago, and just being surprised at the content and manner of those conversations. I always knew that when I eventually come back, I'm going to have to deal with reverse culture shock but it's really been hammered home this year.

I think I really have a much better idea what missionaries go through compared to as recently as 6 months ago. And this is without even suffering a linguistic handicap! Sure I've read up a little on cross-cultural issues, but being immersed in a situation where I work alongside British colleagues and with (mainly) East Asian students, with virtually no contact with Malaysians, whew! Different ball game altogether.

But I know this is a good opportunity too, to just learn, learn to depend on God, learn what it really means to be part of the people of God, learn to expand my worldview, while I remain in this strange place. For one more year, God willing. It is really hard. Thankfully I know one person who is in a similar position to mine, and hopefully we'll get to have at least one time each month where we can share stuff, but in the day-to-day, it can be tiring not to have that resting place available to you. Or just as likely, I haven't learnt yet what it means to rest in God. There's an absolutely brilliant chapter on ambivalence in Dan Allender's book The Healing Path and here's a great line which I need to hear daily: "Faith that is founded on the memory of God's intrusion into my story and hope which is freed in the imagination of God's promise to shape my story for good combine to enable me to open my heart and live for love today."

Sorry, but outside this blog, wasn't sure where I else I could dump some of my ruminations... :)

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