Home. I guess if you know anything about me, or if you’ve ever even met me, within the first few conversations I’ll tell you my home is in India. If you don’t know me or have never met me now you know. Kolkata, India. My heart starts longing for it just at the name. Whenever I see Indian people in the grocery store I want to go hug them….I might also stalk them a little bit and happen to end up in the aisle with foreign food in hopes I’ll run into them again. But that’s beside the point, point is its home and I miss it a lot.
I’ve been to India four times now. Three times now I’ve travelled to Kolkata, with a fourth trip this summer, and one trip to New Delhi. I love it more than I can express with words. I felt a calling to go when I was 14 to work with girls and women and children and I fell deeply and madly in love. I fell in love with the girls we worked with; I fell in love with the people selling food and flowers on the streets. I fell in love with the culture; with the colors and noise….I even grew to miss the smells…well, just a little. I’ve been going every year since that 14 year old girl got her heartstrings tugged a little bit. Sure, it was scary. Most new things are, but if we never step out in faith we’ll never know what all we’re missing out on!
I just graduated high school and am now saving up and making plans to move to Kolkata in January for a bit longer than the two week mission trips we take once a year. I’m planning to stay about 4-5 months at the moment. Wow, that’s scary and while there’s so much I’m nervous about I can’t wait to go. I was talking to my translator on Skype who’s become a good friend of mine and she said something about being yourself and the pressure society can put on you that I wanted to share with you. It kind of perfectly describes how I feel about India and what makes it home to me.
“It’s funny, there are no rules really…or at least nobody follows them. You don’t have to walk a certain way or talk a certain way. Be whatever you want and be completely yourself and that’s what people love you for. Just be yourself. That’s what India’s all about.”
I loved that. Golly. I really love that. I always tell my close friends that I wish I could be here in Texas the person I am in India. I wish I always felt the freedom to be that spirited and compassionate, that I could always be unashamedly me. But there really is so much pressure this day and age that I’ve given into. It’s posted on every magazine. It’s hidden in every TV show and movie. It’s walking the halls of every high school even and whispered in the church pews. It’s saying that YOU are never good enough, that something about you isn’t quite right. The sad thing is, we believe it. I’ve believed it. I spend so much time trying to get back to India and talking about how much better India is and who I am in India because I love who I get to be in India…ME. How foolish I’ve been, while yes, I am called to India and will still continue to go and I can’t wait to grow and fall even more in love with it, I could have had all that here this whole time. Why didn’t I listen to who God said I was here at home in Houston? Why do we all care so much?
It wasn’t India that made me be completely me. It wasn’t the people there or the silly games we played all over. It wasn’t the stage I sung on. It was me being completely dependent on God. I needed him there desperately. I was scared some days, I was always exhausted and he gave me joy and strength every morning. Our leader would always say to us on the days we were most tired, “I know you’re tired and exhausted but you’re at your best because you can do absolutely nothing. These are the days you have to be completely dependent on Christ and he can work through you.” She was right! Those were our best ministry days! We have that here. In our homes…locally! I’m a very mission minded person so I’ve had to train my mind to think this way. But I can be the person I love being…myself, when I let God work through me. I don’t have to travel the world to have that. How foolish and how selfish I’ve been.
Let me challenge you this week to think of what’s holding you back from being completely yourself; from being joyful and honest. It might not be a bad thing, I’m definitely not asking you to eradicate it but I’m asking you to ask God to shine through you and make you dependent on him. I’m asking you to find your identity in Christ first, not in a place, a person, a phrase, an activity, or even a ministry. Why keep waiting for that something when God has had his arm outstretched, offering you this freedom all along?