I went back to my ‘old’ neighbourhood and I was amazed at how noisy and congested it was. What a difference to my ‘new’ environment, which isn’t noise free obviously, but relatively it is serene. The sea view and the tangible experiences that come along with that makes me fall asleep early now. It makes me feel as if I’m actually vacationing at a resort. Yes of course the pros do have its cons as always – the tiles are always seeping so they now delight in showing off the marks of footprints and also the number of hair strands that fall of my head given its sticky nature taunting me to be cleaning at all times! (Oh gosh what a fight to know balance!!)
It all got me realising though, how I had somewhat got ‘used’ to the noise and traffic congestion while living in that environment but now that I have moved and when I head back in that direction to run an errand or to visit, I’m finding the experience terrifying or irritating. Yes one thing I hated before was crossing the roads given the congestion and of course lack of respect for the law and for women! No, this environment also sees much harassment on the roads for females too – as this is more uptown with workers from all over. I see men literally drooling at female pedestrians while they commute in their own vehicles. Disgusted? Of course! Saddened too that there is no place – whether upmarket or average neighbourhood where our average Sri Lankan man can exhibit some manners. (No, not all Sri Lankan guys are like these and I’m grateful I do know a number of solid gentleman too who don’t feel they need to ogle and drool over women!). Of course I have had some male friends tell me that I’m attractive so I just need to get used to it! Why should I? It’s not something I had to experience when being raised up and living in the West so I guess I’m conditioned to not be able to handle it – and I don’t want to change that as this makes me want to strive to somehow try to change our culture to respect women and not treat them like objects.
How often do we get conditioned though by our culture, by our upbringing, by our exposure, by our living environments? It’s so obvious we do in all areas of our lives but what I realised through this ‘experience’ is that it can be so SUBTLE too. We make choices consciously or subconsciously based on the lenses that we have developed and look through.
If this is so for life how much more will this affect our spiritual life?! We get used to, accustomed to, comfortable with certain ways of living that we don’t even feel or evaluate whether it’s ‘wrong’ or ‘not quite beneficial’ or whether its pleasing to God. We are so conditioned in it that we just go with the flow in the same stream of life with its benefits and dirtiness too!
Jesus tells us to GO.. The great commission doesn’t tell us to STAY PUT. The more we mingle and SHARE life with others who are outside our little wells, we understand that there may be better or more effective or more loving ways to ‘do’ life! We learn then to understand one another, what drives them, what ticks them off, how we can help in ways that they really need help with as opposed to how we PERCEIVE they need help. Of course I’m not denying the fact that looking in from the outside also has its advantages where we can see what they can’t see too as much as there are factors that they see but we can’t see. In any situation we need to be quick to hear and slow to speak, hearing them out before we splutter out strings and strings of advice because our words can be empty and even perhaps stinging words as a result.
Even in our words, may we take a moment to PAUSE and seek His discernment and wisdom acknowledging the fact that it is HE who gives us the RIGHT words in any given moment.
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed – Isaiah 50:4
Is our conditioning also inhibiting our walk with God? Is it draining out or competing with God’s voice? Is it feeding into the flesh or is it feeding into the spirit? Where is it leading us – more into the world or along God’s ways?
Let’s be AWARE and ACKNOWLEDGE the fact that we are conditioned by our surroundings and all that goes with it.. and that we do need to CONSCIOUSLY evaluate everything we think, say and do. Are we being hypocritical with contrasting words and actions? Our actions are a result of our thoughts while our words may be carefully schemed to conceal our true agendas. God isn’t fooled no matter what.
Our exposure by stepping out of our comfort zones will help with our conditioning, to ‘undo’ the old man and to ‘redo’ of being restored into His perfect image. May the voices and the noises and congestions of the world and flesh be filtered out of our lives so that we can hear God’s voice and be led along the narrow path of His perfect plan for each one of us. May we be transformed by the RENEWING of our minds and know His perfect and pleasing will.