Coming to live in Sri Lanka surely wasn’t easy. While growing up, my family used to speak in Sinhala (the country’s main language) when they didn’t want me to understand what was going on. My system would simply shut down then – and even now. If I attempt to communicate somewhat, I need to strain myself to ensure this system doesn’t sleep! It was humiliating coming to Sri Lanka and not being able to communicate properly all the time, especially given my fluency in English as well as my mother tongue Tamil. Many laughed at my attempts to speak Sinhala which simply pushed me further into my shell.
Values in the West are more or less developed based on the modern trends of individualism and independence. Any sign of differences in gender is generally regarded as discrimination – as opposed to what the Biblical model of creation proposes. Living alone in the West wasn’t an issue so to speak as a result of it.
However coming here made me feel ‘handicapped’ rather more appropriately made me feel like an infant who couldn’t express her thoughts in words. Repetitively being cheated on the buses and perhaps even three wheeler ‘taxi’ services and not being able to be assertive isn’t a pleasant feeling. Being a female, being single and looking like a ‘foreigner’ (no, not many guess me to be of Sri Lankan heritage) makes one vulnerable, even in places where I can speak my mother tongue. I have to continually turn to people for help to get even what we would consider overseas a minor problem sorted out.
I found myself telling a friend of mine who is currently out of Colombo (the city where I live) that I need him. It just scared me that I had said that, let alone out loud. However, in an instant I realised what God has been doing these last few years. Through moving me out of my comfort zone and bringing me to a place where I would feel handicapped and vulnerable, God has moulded me more and more to be a woman of God – a woman who is not independent but rather a woman who depends on God and is interdependent on others. I don’t think I have ever said that I needed help from a man before. Even when I am able to humble myself a bit and ask help from others, I would always add, “if it’s okay with you and only if you have time” downplaying any urgency while highlighting that I would manage otherwise. It dawned on me with great surprise I must admit, that this is the point God wants a woman to be, to need her man. No, this guy isn’t my man – but the point is I am totally aware that now God has HUMBLED me to the point that I am ready to ‘need’ the man that God has ordained for me.
No man is an island – perhaps a ‘secular’ quote, but nonetheless God’s ways are for us to be a community, in fact to be accurate to be His Body. The Bible is very clear that God has given us different gifts and different roles to be brought together and function for the good of everyone, certainly NOT for selfish ambition or individual growth (the focus and over emphasis on biological family is included here) . Selfish ambition is clearly listed as an act of sinful nature alongside with (at par with) adultery and greed! When the Body of Christ functions in a healthy manner, God’s Kingdom automatically expands. People then clearly see God’s love in and through the Body. The more individualistic and independent we behave, the lesser other people see the work of God or even the need for God.
Now aware (I first typed fully aware but promptly deleted that, as how am I to know that God hasn’t done more than I can even begin to imagine?) of being refined and transformed more and more into His image, I can only stand with a thankful heart and with a grateful heart with tears of joy for what He has been doing in my life. It took me stepping out of my comfort zone so that I would grasp onto HIM with all my might.
“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s Will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)…
We need to change our perspective. The more we internalise the fact that EVERYTHING is made beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:7), the more we will be able to give thanks knowing that God will turn everything around for good to accomplish something awesome even if people mean harm (Genesis 50:21)… We will have faith that in ALL things God works for the good of those of us who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)!