Retrospection is an interesting thing. Often, when we look back at past experiences or conversations, we can see the different ways in which God was weaving together the journey He currently has us on. That has been the case with the journey God has been preparing me for in Japan. But other times, retrospection can dumbfound us in ways that do nothing else but cause frustration.
I’ve been in Japan for over a week now. I’ve unpacked, learned the routes to the closest convenience store and supermarket, and even managed to go on a few morning runs. But I still don’t feel settled.
I remember having conversations with all my closest friends and family during the months leading up to my departure, demonstrating my sobering — and wise — attitude regarding serving Christ in Japan.
Expect things to go wrong.
The honeymoon period will come and go.
Expect to struggle and not want to be there.
Those close to me were impressed at such honesty! I had engaged with enough people and resources to know how to appropriately set my expectations. That would surely help my transition, right? Knowing all this beforehand?
Then I woke up on my third day and was afraid to go outside. Here’s what I wrote on the experience on my blog:
|Hearing the store clerk speak a language I don’t understand, to respond by helplessly nodding. It’s a lonely feeling. But I went, and it happened, and the lonely feeling revealed itself, as expected. […] This morning I’m planning to do some shopping at the local supermarket. I’m expecting the same lonely feeling and the same reaction […] The fear to go out reveals the urge to stay in and cocoon.|
It doesn’t matter how much something is learned theoretically. Experiencing something practically cannot be fully prepared for…until the experience itself. And that’s okay. God has an almost-humorous way in using these experiences to show us His power and grace. Here’s how I finished that blog piece:
|The fear to go out reveals the urge to stay in and cocoon. But that’s not why I’m here. Somehow, some way, God’s grace is most powerful and present in this weakness of mine. So I’ll continue to not fake it, to struggle with it, and witness some divine grace, love, and power be made perfect.|
Part of His divine grace during my first full week has been very human: Hideki and Kayoko Nagahara. They’ve been Jesus’ hands and feet to me in practically every way thus far in Osakasayama. They’ve been the Body of Christ to me. They are my brother and sister in Christ, regardless of language barrier, age, culture.
In my weaknesses of experiencing what my retrospection tried to prepare me for, God is using His beautifully broken people to remind me that He is with me.