What Is Reality?

Jonathan and I have begun to feel the stirrings of homesickness. Everyday life (especially with kids) has its routines and doesn’t allow for a lot of sitting around and contemplating. You just do it. Of course you speak Chinese if you go out in public. Of course you walk half a mile to the market in the alleyway to get the best deal on vegetables. Of course you breathe in the heady scent of cherry blossoms and revel in the shocking green of spring, and also earn a dozen or so mosquito bites whenever you step outside. Of course we provide entertainment to dozens of people on the MRT (metro), either because we are wearing only one layer of clothing in the winter, or because the baby is toppling over from belly laughing at an impromptu game of peekaboo.

Of course. But then I remember the old “of courses,” and I recall that life is a little different now. Mainly I miss the friends and churches we love, but I even feel a yearning for things I never thought were special, like driving to H.E.B. to buy whatever groceries we crave. It’s in those moments that it hits me: we moved to a new country. What on earth? What were we thinking??

It’s not that I don’t like it here. I love our new home with all my heart, not because I have a naïve view of it, but because God made this land and people and they are lovely. It’s ok to feel the paradox of loving two places, without forgetting our previous home of decades. Thankfully we can keep up with our loved ones from a distance, but I know that what used to be home to us will never be the same. People will move, or move on, and our lives will not intertwine in exactly the same way. We’ll miss their special times and they’ll miss ours.

The good thing about this tension is that it forces me to face Reality, the Reality that’s so easy to forget when we are comfortable: We aren’t meant to spend our lives honing a system of maximum pleasure and comfort. We are meant to spend our very selves for God’s kingdom. We are here not because we have calculated that settling in Taiwan will give us the best possible life. We are here in answer to God’s call: as beggars who have been given bread, eager to share this bread with anyone we can, in a place where most people are living and dying without Christ. We are here to be a small part of God’s plan, watching in awe as He expands His kingdom to include every tribe, every tongue, every nation.

Kathleen Shumate and her husband Jonathan are serving with MTW at Christ’s College in Taiwan. You can follow Kathleen on her blog at www.adventurersarewe.com/blog

Kathleen Shumate in Taipei CC Taiwan Reflection on Apr 20, 2015

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