Ignorance and Bliss

If there's one thing I've learned after a week in Thailand, it's that I don't really know much at all.

I don't know how getting all my hair chopped off by a woman who didn't speak a word of English (okay, that's an exaggeration, she knew one word- "cut") could turn out to be such a wonderful expression of the freedom I have in Christ, and how God could continue to use it to challenge my standards of beauty and the things I often run after to feel like I'm enough. 

I don't know if I'll ever be able to transition back into wearing jeans after trying on Thai pants, which have to be the most comfy articles of clothing since the Snuggie.

I certainly don't know if Mr. Nibbles, the mouse that's decided it's my roommates' and my new best friend, will be paying us our usual evening visit, but I'd certainly like to find out before he chews on any more toes.

I don't know much about loving people, or listening to the Lord's voice, but I've seen that sometimes it means playing basketball with community college students to overcome language roadblocks (there are no communication barriers when you're on the court), and sometimes it means sitting in a Buddhist temple and listening to an Argentinean woman's story of nomadic searching, and just trying to understand.

I don't know what my purpose is here yet. I don't know if I'll form meaningful relationships with the women who work the many bars in Chiang Mai, including one next door to the coffeeshop I'm living above, or if I'm simply supposed to learn how to smile in a way that is genuine, that is respecting, and that is compassionate, in a Land full of Smiles that bury pain or rejoice in things that only mock true joy. I hope to be able to give that smile to each man I pass in the bar district.

I don't know if the pork kebab I ate tonight at the Sunday night market is going to make me sick during the hours of tomorrow morning, but it was SO good.

I don't know how I could feel so close to people I have known for such a short amount of time, how I could be filled with so much trust towards them, or how God could use them to encourage me to break down walls I never  knew could topple over. I don't think I yet know how free I am or how powerful my words are, but these girls on my team are helping me see with unclouded eyes.

I don't know how it could be that a nation of 69 million people hear the gospel so rarely, and I am struggling to see the goodness of God in a land that seems so foreign to the idea of him. Yet I also don't know yet which I prefer: a nation that is upfront about its idols or a nation that often takes the name of one God but is mired in apathy and doesn't recognize the things that it really worships. Perhaps one thing I am starting to recognize is that every culture has its own problems.

And while I often don't know the answer to those problems, I am starting to trust that God is resolving them. Because of everything that's happened.

Because I have almost no hair on my head. Because a mouse visited my bedroom. Because there's diversity everywhere, even in pant-wear. Because I could get food poisoning. Because I get to play basketball again. Because scary, beautiful, genuine community is forming from a group of strangers. Because I might not be focusing on the kind of ministry I thought I would be. And everything is still okay, everything is still so good. I've seen that when things don't go as I expected them to, when nothing looks like what I thought I knew, each day is still the day that the Lord has made. And though I'm in deep over my head, it's so hard not to feel joyful. I am with him, and having my mind blown by the creativity of the way he works each day is turning out to be far better than being comfortable in what I know. 

If this is week one, I cannot wait for week two.

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