I had a lovely Skype session earlier this evening with my good friend and former roommate, Megan. Megan is on the journey of a lifetime, going to eleven countries in eleven months through The World Race program. Basically, she’s living my dream of serving and loving on people while seeing and experiencing the world, and to be honest, I’m a tad bit jealous. One day, I hope to do something similar to the World Race wherein I go to a bunch of different countries in a ridiculous amount of time. (:
While I was talking with Megan, she pointed out that she keeps seeing my photos on Instagram and Facebook and it looks like I’m having so much fun in Cambodia. We laughed, because I am having so much fun. Cambodia is a fun place. I get to ride my moto all over the city, to the bat cave, down by the river, just outside of town, etc. I get to go to Siem Reap on a whim, if that’s what I want. I have a hammock that I can pull out under the big, beautiful shady trees when the breeze is blowing just right and the sun is shining. I have a bicycle with a semi-comfortable seat that I can pedal around town. I’m learning a new language, and I’m not completely awful at it! I’m making new friends every way I turn, and the food is so dang good, you guys. I have air conditioning in my apartment, and a whole queen size bed to myself! I have badminton racquets and the perfect front yard for hitting the birdie back and forth with Lily. I have a neighbor, and I love being her friend! I get to walk across the street and hang out with my friends at Rapha whenever I want to; I can play games with them, I can dance with them, I can sing with them, I can sit with them.
I am having so. much. fun.
And I feel guilty for it.
I feel like there is this unspoken rule that missionaries have to have difficult, sweaty, messy lives when they live in another country. There’s this sense of obligation to a hard life that has settled on my shoulders and I can’t quite shake it. When I catch myself laughing too hard, or enjoying something too much, I pause and try and reel myself in. I find myself constantly questioning what I am “allowed” to do and what I am “forbidden” to do, simply because I carry this weird title of “missionary.” (Which, oddly enough, I never even gave myself; I have always just identified as “volunteer” or “intern” for Rapha House, never an actual “missionary.”)
My egg-shell walking, side-stepping, self-checks stem from a place of deep fear and worry. Not that I’m doing something wrong, but more that I’m not necessarily doing anything right. Over the past nine months or so, I have been consumed with this concern that I may, in some way, be letting down the individuals and families that have sent me here.
This week, I bought a guitar. For artistic expression. I’m a writer by nature, but dang it, sometimes words just don’t form in my brain and I have no way to get out my emotions. So I bought a guitar, because I’ve wanted one for years, have taught myself a few different times chords or songs, and legitimately enjoy sitting with a guitar and figuring it out.
One of the things I had to wrestle with in the decision to buy this guitar was whether or not it would be using support money in a wise way. Am I throwing money around because I have it to do so with, or is this something that is actually going to a) be beneficial and b) would my supporters be okay with me investing in this sort of thing? Would people see it as a flippant purchase, or would they understand the emotional and spiritual aspect of playing the guitar? It wasn’t expensive. It was a whopping $75 for the guitar, case, capo, stand, and chord book. I had that in my own savings account prior to sponsor support (part of my justification for the purchase).
Do you see what I mean, now, though? To a certain extent, there is validity to the egg-shelled, self-checked, side-stepping dance I’ve been doing. Obviously I need to be a good steward with the things that the Lord and His people have blessed me with.
But when I avoid things out of fear of disappointing or letting others down, that’s when I need to take a moment to step back and observe my emotions and my thought processing. And I’m learning to do those things, and one example where I worked through those fears and came to the conclusion that I was being silly is when I picked up the guitar and said, “I’ll take it.”
Because sometimes, it’s okay to laugh too hard and to smile too big; it’s okay to learn new chords and find my voice and sing a few songs. Sometimes, it’s okay to do something purely for my spiritual and emotional well-being.
I’m not going crazy. I’m watching the budget, and I’m finding a nice balance between work and fun, and I’m finding out that work and fun can also be grouped together.
Because, you guys, Cambodia is fun. Rapha House is fun. It is hard and tedious and demanding, but it is rewarding and exciting and fun.