Sunday, November 11, 2012

Something Positive, Something to Keep Me Anchored

Day after day; one week fading into the next; seasons changing and years marching on... The longer I teach, the more the routine of the school-year turns time into an utter blur.  I love teaching, so it's a fast blur... but all the same, it is much too easy to get caught in the current and forget to enjoy the moment or even recognize the present.

I've learned that it is important to have a life outside of school; some anchor to keep me grounded in time and place while the school-year rushes on.  Having a planned disruption to the usual routine of CAJ life is most welcome and helpful in keeping time from getting away from me.

Church has provided me with this anchor.  I wrote a year ago about how I was hoping to become more involved at Grace City Church.  Due to a combination of shyness, lack of comfort with the Japanese language and frankly, laziness, it took me until April before I started attending weekly, and it wasn't until June that I started making friends.  Of course, I was away for the summer, but upon returning, I resolved to dive in.  I'm so glad I did.

My desire is to be helpful and to serve, and I have strived to assist regularly with set-up before church.  Today marked my first Sunday helping to lead worship by singing on the worship team.  I am so completely grateful to the pastors and leaders within the church for these opportunities to develop a role within this wonderful community.  I've made friends and I've also made mentors--those valuable folks who are just enough older than me to really speak wisdom and encouragement into my life, yet from a position that's not too far distant from mine.  I've had countless opportunities to meet new people, many of whom do not speak English.  This has required me to put to use the Japanese language training of summers past, and I have been able to maintain some of what I've learned, and I've been challenged to continue my language training in earnest.

Most of all, I'm being fed spiritually... really, for the first time since I moved to Japan.  When I was supervising JAM, I was trying to pour myself out, into the lives of my JAM leaders and the middle schoolers, but was not putting myself in a church situation where I would be fed and where I could grow.  I still struggle with the self-care that I think I should be engaging in given how often my job requires me to care for others, but the opportunity to worship and hear solid Biblical preaching regularly makes a big difference.

This feels like yet another step in the process of making myself at home in Japan for more than just the short-term.  I grew up hearing my parents talk about the value of church and the community we had in our small Wiser Lake Chapel congregation.  Last year, I heard my brother talk about the value of the church community he had while spending a year tutoring at a public school in Denver.  Only now that I've found and plugged into such a church community myself do I understand the value of which they spoke.

I'm ever-grateful for Grace City, for the pastors, and for the friends I've made and have yet to make, and  above all I am grateful to God who has allowed me to become part of a community outside of the routine of school.  Time still seems to be flowing at a dangerous clip, but I feel like I am able to withstand the current and enjoy the now that God is giving me.

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