Tuesday, October 4, 2011

coping mechanisms

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a foreign land?
I dreamed of living in a foreign land from the time I was young. I envisioned myself in a dusty village with grass huts and red dirt roads. I imagined myself carrying baskets on my head and wrapped in colorful sarongs.
But, that is not exactly where I have found myself. Instead, I live in a dusty city with thousands of motorbikes, cars, tuk tuks, and the occasional ox cart battling for space on the roads plagued with giant pot holes. I do not carry baskets on my head, but I do often have a backpack strapped on my shoulders. I can more often be found in jeans and flip flops than in colorful sarongs (ok, let's be honest...I never wear sarongs, though some women do).
It is not what I expected, but I love it. I have grown and changed so much as I have lived in a foreign land that no longer feels so foreign. I have learned to live here, and live here well.
And, one thing I have learned is new coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms are things we use to handle stress and difficult situations. When I was living in America, I had a myriad of coping mechanisms that I employed when life was stressful. I remember coming home many times after a stressful day at work and making a beeline toward my running shoes. After a 3 or 4 mile run, the world was a better place. Or, when my mind was filled with thoughts and questions, I could get into my car, crank up the radio, and roll down the windows, and even if answers did not come, life was happier. And, I have also been known to aimlessly walk about bookstores or Target or dollar stores and pick up various items I don't need and then circle the store placing all the unnecessary items back on the shelves and leave with nothing. Why? I don't know. Sometimes I just like looking at things and thinking and dreaming and not having to talk to anyone.
But, none of those things are options here. It is dangerous to run in the afternoons with the crazy traffic. While I love driving my motorbike, there is not a whole lot of open road on which to drive. And, well, stores are just different here...and people follow you around the store (literally follow about 3 feet behind you). So, I have had to learn some new coping mechanisms, and in the process, I have found that I have become a much more patient, more tolerant, more loving person. I have become slower to anger, more relaxed. I have become more dependent on the Lord because I realize how much is entirely out of my control.
So, what are my new coping mechanisms? I think they are continually changing, but I would probably place early (like 5:15am) morning runs, coffee (there are worse things, right?), and much to my chagrin...facebook. However, I find that above all other things I am daily realizing my need to be vitally united to Christ, to seek Him in all things, to glorify Him with the way I live wherever I live.

"I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from the vital union with Me] you can do nothing." John 15:5

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