I started this blog post probably about 8-9 months ago... wanting to take it as deep as I was feeling it, I left alone to come back to when I had more time, and had done more research into different people from the bible that are examples of this idea. However time went by, and I never got around to it. Until now. So I finally finished and so much of this idea filled my 2017, and retaught to me over and over again. So here you go!
Lately I have been thinking a lot about all the ways living in a small town of 15-20,000 the last 10 years prepared me for our move here to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a city of well over 2 million. God has definitely done things to prepare us for living here. There are so many things that culturally are similar, being able to talk and share life with people is important, here in Cambodia, to show people that you see them, care about them, and want to know them. I learned how to do this in Durango. The value of knowing and being known by people. This is just one example of how Durango prepared us for here. Sharing life with people is so valuable and hard, learning to do it as an adult is really hard. I am glad I was able to learn how with people who spoke the same language and similar cultural background. Now it is so much easier to reach out and work on building relationships here because we know how. (or at least where to start)
I can also see how He is using and will continue to use living here to shape me into who He created me to be. Often we focus so much on our strengths. We play to our strengths, and we see ourselves do well and God uses us to do things. However I truly believe that sometimes God pulls us into situations we feel ill equip or that we lack strengths in just to show us how awesome He is, and maybe reveal a new strength we didn't know we had. He may use us in a new way to use a strength He has given us. The cool part about this is then we know it is Him. It is Him because I could never do that. I think He does this too to help us combat our flesh and our sinful nature and lean in and trust Him more than we ever have before.
I often find myself stepping outside myself saying, "I can't believe I just did that." or "I can't believe this is normal for me now." See if you knew me in Durango you would know that I am a planner, I am cautious (but try not to be too cautious), I like feeling safe and secure, and I like sharing life with people, but I also like privacy. I worry about what others think, and how they perceive me. (sometimes to a point that things place a broken record or stuck dvd in my head wondering if I did the right thing, said the right thing, or acted the right way.)
Living here in Phnom Penh has made us have to be more open. Rely on more people, and trust people I wouldn't normally trust, I have to put myself out there more than I ever have before. I am often watched by the people who work here in our building, neighbors, vendors in the market...partly because I am a foreigner with two cute girls, and I think curiosity. Also we are in the city so even parenting, an area I think many parents are unsure of themselves in often happens (good and bad) in front of everyone.
God has used this to help me be more secure in who I am, more confident in who He made me to be, and who He is shaping me into. My confidence has increase because of this, but so many thing here in Cambodia do not play to my strengths. If I has approached living here based on my strengths, I am very confident I would have missed out on so many things God taught me, and that I now enjoy as a part of my daily life. Friendships would have been missed, blessing would have been missed, and opportunities missed.
Don't miss something because you are sure it isn't a strength of yours. Being willing to take the risk and operate in that weakness, and see where it leads you.
These pictures hit are from yesterday, playing in the street in front of our building. It is hard for me to go down and sit so they can play. But it is always so worth it. We played for almost 2 hours, and got to talk with many neighbors, collect rocks from the nearby potholes, and be totally covered in dust from head to toe by the time we came in. It was good. But in many ways was an example of God working in my weakness, in my discomfort... and revealing more important things and new strengths, and strengthening those weaknesses.