“So, do you like it here?”
About a month ago, I was hanging out with a group of women and was talking with one in particular who had just arrived in Chiang Mai 1.5 weeks before. In the midst of our conversation she asked the question,
“So, do you like it here?”
Umm, do I what? Like it here? This may not seem like that difficult of a question, but I don’t think anyone has asked me that since I moved here. I’ve been asked many things, but not that question in particular. And you know what? I didn’t know what to say. I had to stop and think. Even after doing so, I gave some kind of feeble answer because it was a question that was actually bigger than I knew how to process at the time.
To be honest, even after 5 months of living here, I’m still somewhat in “survival mode.” Survival mode is the place where you feel fairly incompetent at most things and a high level of baseline stress is palpably present on more days than not. It’s the place where you spend a lot of time figuring out things like how to make tasty but cost-effective meals using local ingredients and how to get your clothes clean and mildew-free even though it’s rainy season and you don’t have hot water in your washer. It’s the season when you engage hard questions such as, “How do I continue to care well for those around me when my own world has been so rocked?” While I’ve learned a lot about living here in the past 5 months, the overall learning curve continues to be high and I have no idea when it will level out (or does it?). I definitely enjoy and find joy in many things here. However, when so consumed with relearning how to complete everyday responsibilities, working through my own personal struggle, and caring for my family and home, it’s hard to think about whether or not I like it here.
But, I can think of multiple things I like as a byproduct of living here:
- I “like” that I have to walk by faith in Jesus during everyday life here on a more consistent basis than ever before. This is the kind of “like” that is painful, but good. Wow.
- I like that I’m encountering people and a culture very different than what I’ve always known. My world is being opened in incredible ways and I doubt (and hope) I’ll ever be the same because of it.
- I like that my kids are becoming good friends, possibly because they only have each other as consistent playmates. This does my mother’s heart incredibly good.
- (Somewhat related to the first one I shared) I like that I am, by God’s grace, learning to do hard things. I am facing fears and learning to see struggle not as the enemy, but something that must be walked through with God and seen through a biblical lens. I’m learning this struggle is something through which I can be changed in really big ways. Do I like this process? Not so much most of the time, but I’m learning to be more comfortable with it.
- I like that our family is doing this together and all the things that brings along with it.
- I like that I have met some great people who are teaching me about living in community even when you haven’t known each other that long.
- I like that I get to drive a motorbike. Hey, does this all need to be so heavy?
I’m glad we’re here (most days). I like much of what’s happening in our lives because we’re here. And someday, I look forward to being at the place where I can better engage the question of whether or not I like it here.
Someday, but not today.