Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day Twenty-Five: Orang Asing

Before we get started, I just want to show you this picture of our jack-o-lantern because that's how I felt yesterday. I wanted to include that picture with yesterday's post but by the time I got around to blogging, it was pitch black outside. Today, I was smart and got out there before dinner. Even though, it's nine o'clock and I'm just now finishing up my post. Again.

It's actually molding.

Anyway, moving on, haha, you know the hard thing about for real moving? It always reminds me of something that I already know: I don't fit here, and I never have.

Incidentally, this is also the great thing about moving (even if it's sometimes a hard pill to swallow).

But let me back up a bit. I think we need some context for this.

Story One. A few days ago, the kids and I stopped at the neighborhood mailbox to pick up our mail. As I was unlocking our box, one of our neighbors (whom I haven't met) walked by, pushing a stroller. I smiled cheerily and quickly apologized for blocking her way with our behemoth of a stroller and the accompanying crowd of biker boys, and immediately maneuvered the twins out of the way. She gave me a slight grimace that could have been a smile (benefit of the doubt) and walked past us briskly. I briefly considered moving (again) so that I would never have to see her again or possibly inconvenience her in any way.

Tiny's otherness manifests itself
in his awesome bike riding skills.

Story Two. I grew up in Indonesia, where the people are adorably brown and tiny. I love it there. But I am neither brown nor tiny, though sometimes adorable. Where most of the people cleared somewhere around five feet, I hovered just south of six. Where black hair and brown skin was the norm, I was strikingly blonde and white enough to be mistaken for Lot's wife after she was turned into a pillar of salt. There was one specific instance when I came home during college and my mom and I went out to the village to visit some friends of hers who had never met me. The entire visit the conversation revolved around how much I looked like Barbie. It was awkward.

Lest you think I exaggerate.

Now that we have context, let's get back to where we were: the never fitting. I didn't fit in Indonesia. And yet, I also don't fit here. There are still American norms that I'm learning though I've lived here for 10 years now. I ask a lot of questions. That's healthy, right?

Last night, I asked our guests if it was a normal American tradition to give guests a tour of the house. My mom always did it and I never knew if it was just that our guests wanted to see our crazy Indo-American mash up home and she was assuaging their curiosity or if it was a legitimate American thing to do.

But it's a good thing knowing that I don't necessarily fit in one place or another.

Pajamas and hats indoors.
The twins rock their differences.

I realize that sounds odd, but there are a few reasons that I say that.

One, it makes me more sensitive towards and aware of those others who also may not fit. I always try to remind myself when I'm in social situations where I feel uncomfortable that someone else is probably feeling the same way, so I just need to look for them and be a friend to them.

Two, it reminds me that I'm supposed to be different, and I'm not really supposed to fit.

A fellow Indonesia lover explained it to me this way once. The Indonesian phrase for "foreigner" is "orang asing", but the interesting thing about the word "asing" ("orang" means "person") is that its roots tie to the words "separate" or "set apart". Essentially, the foreigner is set apart from the locals by their differences.

My friend then tied the phrase "set apart" to our word "holy", which means to be set apart for God. I thought this was a fascinating idea. The thought that my discomfort can remind me that I've been set apart for God's purposes never ceases to encourage me.

Who wants to be normal?

So I've been trying to remind myself of these things as I've occasionally felt like a square peg in a round hole.

If I'm feeling like a misfit, someone else might be too, and wouldn't it be more fun to be misfits together?

And if I'm feeling like a foreigner, maybe it's because I am. I've been set apart for God and that means allowing my otherness to shine through for his joy.

More about moving!
And other things...

1 comment:

  1. Great cozy twin pictures. Also--in several episodes of Gilmore Girls, various people in various times and places are asked if they want a tour of the house that they are visiting, so I think that it's a thing. I don't know why though. Maybe ask Mom.