“にほんごの べんきょうしています、でも まだ うまく はなせいません。”
“Nihongono benkyoushiteimasu, demo mada umaku hanaseimasen.”
“I’m currently studying Japanese, but I can’t speak well yet.”
It helps me to write this out and remember that two months ago, I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what any of this meant. I did, however, know how to ask simple questions of the grocery clerk. I also knew how to rent a movie, how to get all around the city I called home, and how to ask mothers at the park how old their children were. The simple things of life have gotten me down lately, remembering the ease with which I moved through daily tasks and interactions back in Nebraska. It’s difficult not to feel like I’ve regressed in relocating to a place where I am little more than a baby and often feel more like a nuisance than an asset. Oh Lord, did I really have to come this far to learn these things? Did I really have to leave family and all that I know?
My soul has been waging war lately: half of me understands, really understands, why I am here — the other pictures home and simply cannot believe it to be so far away and completely out-of-reach. Will it really be two years before I see in person the places and people that daily play in my mind’s eye? Honestly, I just can’t understand it — its almost as if its too painful a realization that I am so far from home, everything I have known and loved and enjoyed. It simply cannot be. Then there are moments when I do understand that, for an undetermined amount of time, I will not see my daffodils by the front porch or hug this person at church or take Jones to the park to run around with neighbors or talk to friends at Food Net or get coffee at 11th & G or make a run to Target or call this friend up to hang out on a whim — a million different things — and my gut sinks and I feel as if I have never known a loss such as this. I have yet to experience to death of a loved one, and perhaps that is why, but this is a death of something else: it’s the death of my desires. I want all of those things, and yet I will not get them, and it is this that is so difficult for me to comprehend.
There are simple ways to absolve the sting: shut it out of my mind, tell myself it’s not that bad or could be worse, try to think of the bad things about home, ignore the pain — all of which call for the hardening of my heart. How, then, do I go on wanting, knowing the wants will not be fulfilled? Truly this must be one of the best schools for self-denial. There are people who would believe that self-denial requires shutting off desire, carving out the wishes and hopes and dreams so that all is hollow and can be “filled with Christ.” I think, however, that I must be aware of my desires so that I might offer them at the feet of Christ. This is self-denial, to fully know what my heart craves and be willingly to let it go.
Right now, I am stuck — I HAVE to let these go, and I’m not doing so willingly, which creates more pain. I REALLY WANT to be home. I want to see, taste, talk, touch, experience, and I can’t believe that I won’t. I am at a crossroads. This passage has been helpful.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived and carried out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-7)