Wednesday, November 26, 2008

another post about community disguised in another post about Europe

This past Sunday, I bought a spinach stuffed pizza and glanced around the food court to find a place to sit. It's rare for me to eat by myself in public, but in the midst of coat-shopping prior to meeting some friends at Eye Masters, I had no choice but to eat alone. In the midst of families and teenagers, I finally settled at an empty table next to a middle-aged white couple. I realized that not only did I feel awkward eating by myself, but I also felt a little uneasy. I regret to admit that as diverse as my classmates are, despite having taken two diversity/multicultural classes, and in spite of the dozens of minority individuals and families that I have volunteered with and counseled, there is still a white girl from the 'burbs inside of me who sometimes feels uncomfortable eating by herself in the food court of a diverse mall :/ I subconsciously elected to sit by the white middle-aged couple, and as I forked into my stuffed pizza, it became apparent why I had chosen to sit by them. This couple strongly reminded me of my dad and stepmom. The husband was even wearing a law enforcement polo that resembles one of my dad's!

Despite the familiar comfort of this couple nearby, I was still feeling a little uneasy when I realized that in 6 weeks, I'll be doing exactly this in another country. Bam. I suddenly felt very silly. Why was I so worried about eating alone? In 6 weeks, I'm going to hug my mom good-bye and hop on a plane by myself to go to Europe by myself. Granted, I'll meet a friend over there, but still, I'm going by myself. Gosh, at the very least, I can be fine eating at a food court in my own hometown by myself! It's strange how I can feel confident doing something in a different country that makes me feel awkward and nervous in my own backyard. But the truth is, the few times that I have traveled by myself, I feel confident. I feel at peace, I feel capable, I feel at ease, I feel courageous. This experience is going to be good for the little girl from the 'burbs who gets nervous at the food court. BTW, I'm now definitely going to Budapest thanks to the magic of Easyjet.

Later that day, as I was driving to church, I started praying a prayer that I sometimes offer when I'm headed to be with my church community. I prayed that I would show love to those at my church. I prayed that I would be able to give to them. When I go to church or comgroup, I often feel such a need for others that praying this way helps remind me that the need is mutual, that we should be interdependent, that I want to love this family and bless them and give to them, and not just take from them. And I often find that when I want something from another, I often leave the interaction somewhat dissatisfied, but when I want to give something to another, I generally walk away more fulfilled. As I was praying this, I realized how I'd spent the past few days primarily talking about Europe with others, trying to decide whether to go, and then sharing my excitement about the decision. I felt somewhat guilty for some of these one-sided conversations, but soon felt gratitude. I feel gratitude that I have so many close friends and caring adults in my life who support me, who encourage me to pursue my dreams, who listen to me, who speak wisdom into my life, who give love. I feel gratitude for having relationships with people who not only cup their hands to receive my tears, but who also open their arms to receive my excitement, joy, and triumphs! Sharing my excitement about Europe has reminded me of this. Though a few have responded with some type of jealously, most have responded with pure happiness for this opportunity. And I want to be this for others, I want to rejoice and celebrate with my friends and family members when they share their joyful experiences with me! I want to give the same gift to those I love that I have received this past week and many times before.

Happy Thanksgiving dear ones :) You are each a wonderful, precious blessing to me, and I receive so much from you. I care deeply about you and hope to give to you and share with you in the ways that you give to me. Thank you.


Amy Simpson said...

What a lovely, honest and encouraging post. Thank you.

Reading it was almost like hearing God speak Romans 12 directly into my heart.

Cara said...

I think going to Europe, especially being by yourself in Amsterdam before you meet up with said friend, will be great for you and future mall food court visits.

I used to feel the same uneasiness eating by myself in The Main before going to Spain. After Spain, sometimes I prefer to eat by myself, walk around by myself, go to movies and museums by myself. I blame Spain on my newfound introverted-ness! But I also sort of love it.

That's a really great prayer to pray, Kelly. I too have noticed that I leave social settings more fulfilled if I have prayed that my interactions would glorify God and not that I would have a great time and feel super comfortable.

Friendship is give and take. You, Kelly, are a giving friend who has been there for me over the years - wow, 4 and a half years! It is my joy to be there for you, to laugh with you and celebrate with you and cry with you because these are the ways you have been there for me. There are times when we need others, and this isn't sinful or selfish, but a way for others to take joy in serving you.

Blah blah, I love you.