Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I'm still in China, and I'm so glad I didn't pray about it

Well guys, I've officially lived in China for 1 year.

I can't even describe how good I feel about that. Moving here was so so SO the right decision. There is absolutely nowhere else I want to live.

When I got a job and moved to China, my contract was for 1 year. Now I've moved to a different city and switched jobs- still working as an English teacher though.

Staying in China was not a decision. I never thought for a second "well after my contract's up should I move back to the US or not?" Haha. Yeah right.

And moving to a different city- that was my decision. Really. Seriously. I did that because I wanted to.

I never prayed about it, and I never thought "hey maybe I should pray about this."

And man that feels good.

In the summer of 2010 I came to China on a mission trip, and it blew my mind. I was overwhelmed by how different China is from everything I'd ever known or imagined. And I started to wonder if maybe I could live here.

To be honest, I felt like my only options were to forget China existed, or to put all my energy into learning Chinese and trying to understand the culture. Because man, living in the US... if I told you there was a magical land where people get up in the morning and eat porridge and 油条 (yóu tiáo) which I will translate as "fried breadsticks" though I have never seen them in America and you would look at them and think "oooh are we having donuts?" but haha yeah right. Donuts. Keep dreaming.

(You can get donuts in China, but they're not as good as the real ones, and NOBODY is going to offer you one for breakfast.)

Could there really be a place where every random person on the street can read those ridiculously complex-looking Chinese characters? And people push and squeeze onto the public buses during rush hour? And white people are so rare that many people feel the need to stare and yell "HELLORRR" whenever they see one? And people eat with chopsticks? And when you go to a western restaurant for steak, it's served with a fried egg on the side? And people think "snacks" means dried squid and shrink-wrapped tofu and chicken feet? And birthday cakes are topped with fruit- including cherry tomatoes? And where people order eel at a fancy restaurant and when you try to figure out what it is, they swear up and down that it's not seafood and then you eat it and yeah that tastes like fish- but they stand by their whole "it's not seafood" claim because that eel came from a river, not the sea? And the restaurants will give you one menu for everyone at the table to share?

Can you imagine?

I got on that plane in Beijing in 2010, terrified that I would forget. With wild ideas about learning to speak Chinese and coming back to live in China.

And I prayed, "God, send me to China."

Part of me was sure I was crazy. People don't move to China. Come on, be realistic.

Could God understand? I had always assumed I'd grow up and graduate from college and get a house in the suburbs in the northern US, just like my parents. God had always assumed that too, right?

God didn't think I was supposed to go to China. Right?

And I signed up for Chinese 101 at college, and asked all the Chinese international students to help me practice speaking Chinese. Maybe I could sneakily learn the language and make myself totally equipped for living in China, and then God would have to send me there, right? Very sneaky.

It was so hard to live like that, wanting it so much, but afraid I wasn't being "realistic." I thought I needed God's permission. Because I thought people don't move to China- and by "people" I mean white Americans. And every time someone said something vaguely doubting my dream to live in China, I interpreted it as "you can NEVER live in China."

Stuff got a lot easier in early 2012 when I was visiting China again and made an official decision: Yes, after I finished my masters degree, I would move to China. No matter what, my future self would just trust that in that moment, I knew, I knew, I knew.

And finally it happened. I live in China. And it is so good.

So here I am. It's been 1 year, and there was no decision. It doesn't even feel right to say "of course I'm staying in China" because that makes it sound like the possibility of not staying is even worth acknowledging.

I didn't pray. And I didn't pray about switching jobs and moving to a different city either. And man, that just feels so so much better than all that begging I did back in America, when I thought I was supposed to live in the suburbs and have a dog and be surrounded by white people.

This idea that I can just do things because I want to do them, instead of torturing myself trying to figure out what God wants, is so new and crazy to me. But it feels good.

1 comment:

  1. Really good post. I feel the same. I actually was coming to China this year, but then got a funded offer for another MA, so I'm staying in North America one more year. I didn't pray, and I don't know if it was the best decision. But it was a decision, lol.