I leaned back and pressed forward into the door again while turning the key. I turned it right. I turned it left then right then tried again. It still didn’t open. “Oh come on” I thought to myself. “I’m hungry and tired. I just want to get into this house.” I put my heavy bag of groceries on the ground, took a deep breath and tried the key again. Still no luck. The sun felt particularly heavy as it streamed through the glass door behind me.
I tried the bottom lock. It didn’t work. Maybe I should call Carla?*she did say I could give her a ring if I needed anything. I spent about 3 minutes just starring at my phone. Not wanting to call her. I didn’t want to have a stupid question about the house after I just moved in. Yet, here I was locked out of my own house not because I did not have a key but because I could not figure out how to open the dang door. I told myself that I needed to just get used to looking dumb and asking questions then begrudgingly gave my housemate a ring. It went to her answering machine. I hung up and put my phone in back pocket. Okay, think really hard. She showed you how to unlock the door. Just try to remember. She said something about the locks. What was it again? I thought to myself. I tried again. I put the key on the bottom lock and heard a series of clicks then tried the top lock and turned the key to the left. Still nothing. I’m ashamed to say that this went on for about 10 more minutes and then it hit me. Wait! The top lock is only locked, the bottom is always unlocked. You need to turn the key to the right to unlock it not to the left. I remembered. I put the lock in the bottom one and turned it so it was unlocked then I went to the top lock and turned it right. The door popped open. I breathed a sigh of relief, grabbed my groceries off the ground and headed inside.
This is just one of the many mistakes that I have made since I have moved here. I have said things I should not have said because over here they do not mean the same thing as they mean in America. (If you ever visit, let me know so I can give you heads up about what those things are and save you from the embarrassment :) ) I have forgotten to bring enough reusable bags to SuperValu and have found myself trying to stuff as many groceries as possible in one bag all the while trying to appear composed and calm as a box of cereal and bags of rocket/lettuce topple out over the top.
I have never felt so self-conscious in my life. I am one that likes to blend in. I like to go unnoticed out in public and I like not feeling slightly embarrassed in grocery stores. I don’t like wondering if the people on the dart think I’m tourist and then feeling this need to prove otherwise. I don’t like worrying constantly if I am going to say or do the right thing.
Someone told me once that the things that we let consume our thoughts the most are the things that we idolize the most. Within just one week of being more officially moved in, I found myself getting ready in the mornings thinking constantly about what I was wearing and if what I was wearing would help me blend in on my commute into town. I began comparing myself to some of the Irish girls in city centre. I would compare my appearance to theirs and think about how I would never measure up to them and I sure would never get any of the Irish guys to look twice at me if they are always surrounded by women that look like that. I know these things are awful and shallow but these are the thoughts that I found myself unexpectedly consumed by. Before I knew it I was idolizing what strangers thought of me. It’s one thing to worry if people you know will like you but here I was constantly worrying what complete strangers would think of me if they saw me or talked to me. I felt like I hit a whole new low.
I have to remind myself that the reality is that Iwas not born here and I am going to make loads of mistakes because I don’t know what’s expected without observing and asking questions. I can wear whatever I think will make me blend in the most but I'm still an American. I’m going to stick out and I am going to be asked time and time again if I am away on Holiday. I was reminded this past week that my identity is ultimately in Christ. My identity does not lie in whether or not I fit in or blend in the background. My identity does not lie in whether or not I have the approval of strangers. My identity does not lie in being an American either. My identity lies in being a daughter of God.
You would think that after 9 years of being a Christian I would understand that what matters is not how others see me but how Christ sees me. Unfortunately though I’m a forgetful daughter and need to be reminded time and time again of the things that really matter. Fortunately though, God doesn’t give up on his forgetful children. Instead, he is patient and gracious with them even when they don’t let him consume their thoughts, the way they should. He is constant and still there when I get off track and begin to idolize things I shouldn’t idolize. He reminds me my identity is in Christ when I place my identity in the wrong places. It is only with Christ that I can I put all these self-focused thoughts aside and focus on loving the people around me. It is only with Christ that I can care about the strangers I see and focus on how I can show Christ to them in some small way rather than worry if they think I’m good enough, pretty enough, city enough or not a tourist.
So if you find yourself consumed by selfish thoughts, idolizing approval or acceptance, remember whose you are and remember that you are made in the image of God. He has approved you. He has accepted you. Share with Him that you are wrestling with those things. He can help you focus outward instead of inward.
Have a great week!
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are!" -1 John 3:1