Friday, December 14, 2012

Most important thing I learned in Japan - doesn't make sense

 After living in Japan for a few years or so (you know, like 8) you start to get used to things.  But every now and then you still get these stop-you-in-your-tracks-scratching-your-head-"huh?" moments.

My latest "why?" moment came this week when I was on my way to work.  I'm rushing to catch my train and out of the corner of my eye, I see what I think is the Alamo.  I'm understandably confused.  Why would I see a significant Texas historical landmark in a train station in Japan?  Right?  So it must be something that merely resembles the Alamo, right?  Well, I didn't have time to verify right at that moment, but on the way home I checked, and sure enough, there were at least 3 large posters of the Alamo.

Merry Christmas from the Alamo.

Huh?  Why?

Apparently it's an advertisement for Japanese liquor.  Yep Japanese shochu.  Now of course Texans like alcohol.  But Texans drink things like beer, tequila, gin, whiskey, vodka, beer and beer.  But I'm guessing 90% of Texans don't know what shochu is.


I'll probably never know.

this is an extremely ugly apartment building.  Yeah, I don't know why either.
 And this I think is an important lesson I've learned from living in Japan.  I don't know everything, and not everything makes sense.

And that's life.

I don't understand Japanese perfectly.  I can't read half of what I see.  There are things that just don't make sense.  Logic is a lost art in this country.

I can choose to be frustrated, or I can learn to live with ignorance and confusion.  Trust me, you can get used to it after a while.

Recently, I've been dealing with frustration a lot.  I make mistakes, have bad days, and get ambushed by avalanches of "little things."  I spend a lot of time trying to convince myself that giving up is not an option, running away will only change the location of my problems, and God is in control.

I've discovered I'm not a very convincing person.  Note to self, never try to make a career in sales, you will fail.

I don't know what my future will be.  I'm frustrated with where I am in life, (or rather where I'm not, married with children.)  I curse "independence" as loneliness and "freedom" as slavery.  I desire to be bound to something other than myself, to a place or a person.  To be able to give up my identity as an individual for the sake of someone else.  I see friends who I used to be at the same place in life as seemingly jumping ahead while I'm stuck on the same level, aging.  I am not cheese.  I'm not getting better with age.  I long for something concrete to anchor me, yet I chafe because I'm not moving.  I feel trapped in darkness of my own making and circumstances out of my control.

I don't understand.  Things don't make sense.

I am frustrated.

I totally get why people can get so addicted to video games.  If you do everything the right way, make the right choices, do things in the correct sequence, have the right equipment, you can pass the level.

But life doesn't work that way.  Sometimes the people who make the wrong choices, pass the level.  Sometimes people who make the right choices get sent back a level.  Sometimes you never get off the level.

And there is no re-set button in real life.

I really, really wish there was sometimes.

I often find myself falling into the trap of trying to make my faith like a video game.  If I say this prayer the right way, then I will pass this level.  If I follow these rules, then I can level up.  If I'm not leveling up, then I must not be doing something right.  If I do the same things that person who leveled up did, then I should level up too, right?


Faith doesn't make sense.  What worked in one situation doesn't always work in another.  Following all the rules doesn't guarantee happiness.

Life doesn't make sense.

It's not fair.

And I'm wondering around with a permanent "huh?" etched into my face.

But that's ok.  I don't have to understand everything perfectly to keep moving.  I don't have to be perfect to be where I am supposed to be.  I don't have to understand Japanese fluently to live in Japan.  I don't have to understand children perfectly to be a teacher.  I don't have to know what is coming to live.  It's ok if I'm just barely treading water.

That's faith.

If I knew all the answers, and followed all the formulas, that is not faith.

Faith is being confused out of your mind, but still trusting.

Faith is believing that God is good, even when you are frustrated and want to quit.

Faith is trusting that even if I don't have all the correct rules and traditions to follow, Jesus will still love me.

Faith is knowing it's ok to fall down, even in the dark when you can't see what you are falling into.

Faith is not beating yourself up as a failure when things don't work out, because God has already accepted you.

Faith is bigger than things making sense.

So I guess I'm doing a little bit of faith training right now.

Merry Christmas from the land of "huh?"!  I have faith God is working in your life too, even if we don't understand what He's doing.  I bet Mary and Joseph felt the same way many many times.

It doesn't make sense.  But it doesn't have to.

1 comment:

Genevieve Scheele said...

Such a beautiful post!! I've had your blog bookmarked for a while, but like most bookmarks forget to read. I "accidentally" clicked the link just now, and it caught my eye.

I too am in Japan currently, and my current state of mind is similar to yours. It's amazing to find that God is moving in different people in the same ways. He's cool like that.

Thank you for the beautiful post, really!!! God Bless and Merry Christmas!!! <3