Lately I’ve really done a horrible job at updating my blog. For those four people that read it…I apologize ;-)
Life in Russia continues to be an adventure, full of ups and downs and little victories. The other day I bought a Pepsi light from the café across the street all by myself. It sounds slightly pathetic but I found enormous satisfaction in being able to answer every question and complete the entire transaction without having to pull out my favorite phrase, “yaneepannemayou” a.k.a. “I don’t understand.” While I thank God for the ability to get around my new home now without wanting someone to hold my hand every step of the way, I’ve also come to see the danger in it. Comfort breeds complacency. When I no longer have to pray my way through each moment of the day, it is easy for prayer to become that which I do when I have time. When I’m not constantly aware of my weakness, it isn’t hard to think I can get along just fine by my own strength. Lies can look a lot like truth when we want them to.
I’ve never really thought of myself as anything but ordinary. I'd say I’m average. Average in intelligence. Average in appearance. Average in abilities. I have no talents to impress you with, no knowledge to fascinate you with, and no charm to woo you with. I am me, and for quite some time, I've felt it never quite enough. Possibly if I lost a few pounds I’d be more attractive. Maybe if I took up a new hobby I could find something I’m exceptionally good at. Perhaps if I was more outgoing people would take notice. And each time I've tried to be a little different, that which I am not, becomes exponentially more obvious to me.
I’m not writing this so you’ll argue the validity of my self-image. Please don’t. I’m writing this because in the midst of my own complacency and laziness, I’ve realized something. Loving and obeying God is hard. Being a “Christian” isn’t so bad. I can go to church, say nice things to people (even if I don’t mean them), hang out with people who are just like me, and read my Bible with the best of them. But truly loving God is another story. It takes work. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes intentionality. It takes sacrifice. Sometimes even when we feel like we’ve given up enough for Him…our families, our friends, our homes, our comfort…He asks us to give more. He asks us to give up our greed and our lust. He wants our laziness, our selfishness, and our pride. (He is kind of greedy when it comes to sin). He asks us to give a little more than we think we have left to give and it’s hard. When I am honest with myself, I can say I’ve felt inadequate and average because I’ve wasted too much time focusing on that which could never change who I am. Maybe I am ordinary. And maybe that is okay. But if at the end of the day I can look back and say I did everything I could to love God with more intentionality, humility, authenticity, and purity than ever before…now that…that could be pretty extraordinary.