So after my confession of “bitterness”, repenting before the Lord and asking for His deliverance, forgiving those that I perceived had wronged me, and moving forward into a renewed state of mind… my attitude has totally shifted. Life has felt so much lighter and I feel so much more at peace, even despite a lot of situational chaos and drama going on around me.

The past two weeks have been very busy, full of new experiences and perspectives. I’ve been at my “new” job for about 6 weeks now. I’m finally starting to settle into my different roles at work, as well as my new living space. Additionally, the place where I work hires a lot of international college students for the summer. So I’ve been surrounded by a variety of cultures, with their own set of personalities, languages, religions, and value systems.

It’s not only been highly entertaining and exciting to observe and take in so many unique individuals, but it’s been challenging me as an individual as well. I grew up fairly nomadic, so I experienced a lot of different lifestyles and people from various parts of the United States. It broadened my horizons tremendously, while simultaneously keeping me sensitive to the differences of others and grounded in who I am as an individual.

Yet for the most part, all these “different” people I encountered throughout my nomadic youth, spoke the same language as me. We could pretty much relate on a few different levels and our thought processes were similar. Now, there are not only language barriers that bring a set of challenges, but I also don’t often speak the same “mental” or “spiritual” language.

It’s interesting what something as simple as a language barrier surfaces in a human. There is a lot of curiosity surrounding our interactions, with a bit of uncertainty mixed in. It’s interesting how each has to learn to find common ground when you can’t fully understand the language, but add on to that – trying to understand how another person functions or thinks outside of your own culture. I’ve had to adjust to explaining basic English words or phrases, as well as explain concepts that are not easily explainable to people who understand my own language, much less someone where it’s their second or even third language.

It’s quite fascinating and beautiful, these various interactions. Though we’re each so different, we all share a common need for interaction/socialization… relationship. Why is that? Hmm… I already know why, but that’s rhetorical and I’ll leave that up for personal reflection.

I can’t help but ask a lot of new questions lately, as so many new and unique questions are asked of me.

At one point during orientation, we were supposed to state a phrase or word of what we would want most in life, what we want to be remembered by, or what we wanted to do in this lifetime. There were various things stated around my table which were thought provoking to hear. When it got to my turn to say something, I wasn’t quite sure how to sum up what I wanted to be remembered by, but I ended up stating it in two parts: “to love every person unconditionally” and “to bring hope to the broken-hearted”.

My first phrase “to love every person unconditionally” was questioned by the Russian guy sitting next to me. He looked at me and stated “unconditionally?” I wasn’t sure if he didn’t understand the word itself or what he was asking, so I did my best to explain what “unconditional love” was by its English definition of the word itself. Then he was correcting me a little bit and still attempting to wrap his mind around it and said ‘so you meet someone and you just love them?’

These are the types of interactions that are causing me to pause, reflect, and learn how to state my values and what I believe. I’m learning the importance of not only understanding my worldview for myself, and what I believe about life, love and Jesus Christ… but how to actually explain and express it in such a way to someone who doesn’t speak the same “language” as me or who believes differently. It’s challenging, and it’s good. It’s what I need, I think… because it actually helps solidify what I know in my heart and brings conviction when I have to express things outwardly.

I think that’s why the common theme with humans is relationship… we need each other. God created us as relational beings because He wanted a relationship with us, and He wanted us to experience relationship. Relationships help us grow. They are beautiful and painful. They are awkward and comforting. Relationships take us outside of ourselves… they sharpen us, and we learn to get over ourselves, if we’re open to that. They teach us how to love and serve someone else. They teach us what to value. They challenge our false perceptions. They humble us.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:3-11