Last Saturday marked six months of marriage for Ray and I. After going to an arcade and spending two hours playing video games, we spent some time reflecting on our challenges and triumphs thus far and decided to share a few of them with you in a co-blog.
Challenge # 1: Pride
Ray: Having been raised in a culture where women have had no voice for many years has had a great impact on my understanding of marriage. Though I have been raised to believe that a man is the head of the house, especially in relation to providing food and shelter, there are other beliefs, like who makes decisions for the family, that we have had to work through. Here, men go for bank loans to buy expensive cars without consulting their wives. When everything backfires, the whole family shares in the sorrow. I have also seen men spend their family's savings on new overnight business ventures, only for the children to become guests at the neighbors' around meal time. Just recently our parliament even passed a bill into law that allows a man to marry a second wife without even consulting their first wife. You can call it whatever you like, but I call it PRIDE.
I knew marrying a person from the other side of the ocean, where stern legislation has been passed in favor of women was going to be a challenge. I knew it would be hard for me especially for the fact that we were going to start our lives in Kenya where shared decision making would not be normal. A woman trying to correct her husband in public or trying to share an opinion amidst African men is unheard of. But I still made that decision because I knew it was not about what people say, but about what my purpose as a husband is: to love my wife as Christ loved the church. When God gave Eve to Adam as a helper, it was not just to help Adam in the "gardenhold" chores, but to partner with him in other areas, especially decision making. All I can say is I haven't gotten this far with my wife on my own. It has taken Jesus, and I'm still looking to Him to see what He has in store.
Sam: Just as Ray mentioned, because I come from a culture where women are given equal rights to men (for the most part), I have really struggled with submission not just to my husband, but to other men. There was a day we were speaking with an older gentleman and I started goofing around with Ray, poking and teasing him. He kind of stiffened and gave me that "now is not the time" look. Later in the house he informed me that culturally it's disrespectful for me to speak in the presence of an elder unless spoken to. Apparently the expectation was for me to sit quietly and wait until I was dismissed. It is very easy for me to become offended at situations like that, but there's not much I can do to combat it, especially with the older generation. They're not too keen on a young American girl who wants to shake things up. I've just had to learn to humble myself... like really humble myself, and do as the culture warrants. Ray is no where near being as closed off as most men are here, but as he said, he still grapples with a lot of ideas he's learned about women and he's working on reconciling them to the fiery American woman he married. It's definitely a work in progress.
Triumph # 1: A Solid Commitment to Bible Study
Sam: I must confess that I was one of those single girls in college with the list. You know what I'm talking about? That illustrious list of attributes you want your husband to have. It's not bad to have desires, but it's probably not wise to compose that list when you have nothing but superficial ideas swimming in your head and then you make two copies, one sealed copy for yourself and another for a friend who can hold you accountable so you don't get into a relationship with anyone who is missing anything on your list. Yeah, that was me. Funny enough, Ray came into my life and broke every single expectation I thought I had for a husband. In a good way, of course. I wanted to marry a musician so we could go on tour and give birth to our very own Von Trapp family, but he wasn't that. At that time I was only attracted to white men; Ray is African... you can't get much further away than that. I also wanted a strong spiritual leader. It appears I didn't really have an appropriate grid for what that looks like within marriage before I met Ray. I expected to marry someone who had been leading Bible studies since he was a toddler or at least who could debate any biblical scholar to the point of concession. Ray wasn't that, but he had something I had missed on my list. He had a teachable spirit and a desire to grow, even if it meant that I would be the one teaching. From the first day of our marriage to today, he has initiated a Bible study with me every weekday. We read a chapter a day and discuss, sharing what we've discovered, asking questions, and so on. It has been amazing to watch my husband grow in the Word and to see how much this has helped our marriage. Even if we're tired or fighting or whatever, we know that our Bible study time isn't optional. Not because we're legalistic about it, but because we know that the one day we skip will be the beginning of a series of excuses for why we should continue to skip it. Sticking to this commitment has really helped us grow together the past six months.
Ray: When I was praying and asking God for a wife, "God-fearing, singing ability, beauty, and spiritual maturity" were some of the things that were on top of my prayer list. I thank God because He answered my prayers and not only did I get what I wanted, but they came in double portion. When I said I wanted a singer, I was thinking more on a Kenyan level. God gave me an international singer. If you haven't heard her sing, you're missing out on a lot. You can click her picture on the sidebar to check out her music. As far as spiritual matters are concerned, I can proudly say that I am not the spiritual leader yet. I know I can choose to pretend and act as if I know the Word, but what good will it do me? My wife has challenged me to want to know God more. At first I was like, "Let me read the Bible more so that I can be the head," but when I got into it, I realized it was more than that. I know that since I've been raised with a strong Christian background one would think that things like spiritual maturity come by default, but that's not the case. That's why we made a commitment to read the Word of God on weekdays, and I can proudly say we have honored that. I believe that this has kept us going even on stormy days.
Speaking of stormy days, those are the times I believe I gain even more from the Bible, because sometimes my baby is so upset with me that she doesn't feel like talking, so I end up breaking down the Word all by myself. Sometimes it's a blessing in disguise.
Challenge #2: Time Commitments
Sam: I have alluded to this issue previously, but the fact that it's surfacing again here should indicate that it's something we're still dealing with, though I can say it has gotten a lot better than it used to be, and I have no doubt that when we review our marriage in another six months, it won't be as big of an issue.
The first week we lived here, this surely wasn't the case. I couldn't see any issue as big or as damaging as the issue of time management. One day Ray left in the morning to run an errand and said he'd be back in two hours. Because of Nairobi traffic and people he bumped into that needed his attention (he had been in the States away from work for two months and he had the African wedding to help plan), he didn't come home for twelve hours. I literally had a nervous breakdown. At that time I hadn't gotten a cell phone yet, so I had no idea where he was or what was happening. When he came home, we both ended up crying, and we resolved to do the best we could to keep time from getting away from us like that ever again. Even with all of the resolve we muster to combat this issue, there are just so many variables that are out of our control. I'll let Ray explain some of the challenges he faces when he promises me he'll be home at a particular time...
Ray: I try so hard to keep my word, but in the world we live, this is far from possible. So many factors influence time. Taking a matatu home from work takes me like an hour when there is no heavy traffic. This can change if it rains heavily, if the matatu guys are on strike due to some new regulation introduced by the government, if our 'dear' president is either going to the airport or leaving the airport, and so on. I believe my wife has shared with you guys about TIA. (If you haven't read that, you will have to check it out somewhere down this page.) Being in a third world country, one has to work extra hard to make money. I know God provides, but does that mean we have to sit there and wait without putting our hands to work? I doubt. For that reason I have to commit to be in the office more than my wife would like. Sometimes a client will promise to come to my work place at two in the afternoon, but because TIA, he will show up at four. In Kenya when someone promises you a job, missing meeting them means you miss out on the job. In such cases, which don't happen on the regular, I can decide to follow my wife's request and go home without meeting the client, only for her to ask me what we are having for dinner and since I have no money I suggest we just pray and sleep, but trust me, that night I might be forced to sleep on the couch. (Just kidding. That has never happened.)
Sam: Dealing with these factors, sometimes all at once, has not been a leisurely stroll through the grasslands. Ray had grown accustomed to a life with various interruptions, but he wasn't used to facing these interruptions and coming home to a wife who has a bad habit of wielding a skillet whenever he's even slightly late. I was used to delays of no more than fifteen minutes, only permissible if accompanied by profuse apologies. We've both had to change our actions and expectations. Ray does his best to leave the office by three so he can beat the rush hour traffic, and I try to give him a warm reception and pleasant attitude, even if he is a few minutes (or hours) late. Neither of us has perfected these goals, but we're working on it!
Triumph #2: Communication & Honesty
Sam: Ray and I talk about everything, and I mean every-thang. Whether the topic of conversation is something trivial or intense, we share freely. At times there can be a backlash.. I don't like to hear that my husband had to "bounce" his eyes when a particular girl walked by, and my feelings can get hurt, but I know that when you face temptation and don't verbalize it, that gives it power. You can end up undergoing a serious struggle within yourself, and your spouse has no idea that you've been enduring heavy spiritual fire. When Ray tells me his struggles and I tell him mine, we can help each other guard ourselves from falling prey to that particular temptation. In matters of personal expectations that were dashed or offenses we received from one another, our catchphrases have become "You need to verbalize" or "What did you hear me say?" (The second one we learned from our friends Paris and Akeia.. this one has helped us clarify the difference between what was meant and what was felt.) It is very rare for us to let the sun go down without communicating what's bugging us. If we do allow that to happen, it's because of stupid pride (a.k.a. Wasike enemy #1), and most often... okay, all often, it's my pride. Regardless, the following day we end up straightening things out.
Ray: I thank God because my wife has really improved on this. By now I believe you all know she is an introvert, so when we first started this journey it was so hard for me to read her because she would always go quiet to "process". There was a time in the States we went out for breakfast with some friends, and out of nowhere she developed this attitude (at least that's what I thought it was). Of course this made me go into deep thoughts, trying to analyze my actions from the moment we walked into the restaurant, but I just couldn't figure it out. Later on I asked her about it and she said that something I said was kinda demeaning to women. I didn't mean it the way she took it, but the damage was already done.
Sam: That would be one of those moments when Ray would say, "You need to verbalize" or "What did you hear me say?" Short questions, but very powerful.
Six months seems like such a small milestone to celebrate when comparing it to the many years that we'll be together, but evaluating our progress and taking time at such points in our life journey to make sacrificial altars before the Lord and worship Him for His perfecting work in us is a great reminder that the best is yet to come.
Last Saturday marked six months of marriage for Ray and I. After going to an arcade and spending two hours playing video games, we spent some time reflecting on our challenges and triumphs thus far and decided to share a few of them with you in a co-blog.
Having house help in the states is a luxury that not many can afford. Having house help in Kenya is a basic necessity for most families.
She's got high hopes
Before I moved here and had any semblance of a clue of what life is really like for the typical Kenyan wife, I scoffed at the thought of needing a house girl to help me take care of my home. It would just be the two of us, how hard could it be?
My resolution was further solidified during a visit to Maryland (our future home when we return to the States *woot woot*), when my Aunt Kathy passed on some advice from my late grandmother. My grandma used to get up really early with my grandpa to cook him breakfast before he went to work. Her reasoning: "If I don't cook for my husband, Sally down the street will." There's so much truth to that statement here, it's scary.
The problem with house girls
House girls generally come from financially struggling homes with the hopes of making money to help the family or to become less of a burden to their parents. They're generally teens or young adults and lack formal education. Some work at your home during the day and then go home. Others take on the role of the mother, almost entirely in some cases, and live in the home.
When you allow another woman to care for your children, your home, and your husband, lines start to blur. The husband usually begins to take interest in the woman who is always there taking care of him, and the house girl starts to feel like she has a right to talk back to his wife. It's no surprise then that house girls turn up pregnant all the time and house girl bureaus have to advertise that their girls are "honest".
I trust my husband totally, but I don't want any temptation of blurred lines in my home and I don't need to deal with the suspicions of whether or not her intentions are pure. Truth be told, since I'm home all day and Ray doesn't come home until the evening, I could hire someone part-time, but I'm too dang stubborn. I want to prove to my husband that I can do what Kenyan wives do, so I try to do it all on my own. I'm not sure that this will last forever, especially when we have kids, but for now I'll keep working out my housewife muscles.
The life of a Kenyan housewife
So you're probably wondering what is so difficult about being a housewife here that makes people feel the need to outsource. I'll share some of the things that I've either experienced or seen:
There's a lot more, of course, but I'm sure you'll hear me mention them in upcoming blogs and whatnot. Oh, one more thing... I stay at home so I can focus on writing, but other women typically have some kind of job or side business that they tend to on top of these things. Having a house girl is pretty much essential in their cases.
Creating our own cultural expectations
When we lived in the states for a few months, I knew that my days of lying in bed, eating junk food, and letting dishes pile up would soon become a distant memory. Natural expectations of being a wife required that I keep the house clean, cook meals regularly, and spend my free time with my husband. Living in Kenya has tremendously heightened the expectations I face.
To save us from being over-run by disillusionment, one of our mentors gave us this piece of advice: create your own culture within your home. This is probably the best advice anyone has ever given us and it has helped us adjust to one another regardless of the setting. People around us may expect us to act a different way (I feel the pressure to be a "Kenyan" wife all the time), but my husband never puts that yoke on me. In fact, he does what most Kenyan men would never do. He helps me with laundry when it becomes too much for me and he cooks over the weekend so I can have a break. That's become part of our culture. Adjusting here has happened quite fast for me, and it's really because of him. He truly is a blessing. Some day I'll be able to do a full load of laundry without complaining or quitting halfway through, but until then, I'm so thankful for the grace of God and my husband.
First impressions tell you a lot about people, and from the first time Christ introduced me to Patience, I knew we'd be on rocky terms. Patience is like the house guest that never gets your hints that you have other things to do and can't do them until she leaves. She just makes herself right at home, never ceasing to add her two cents to every conundrum I face, always offering the same annoying advice... "I think you should wait." Well I think, no, I know that I have things under control, but she always seems to know better. Pushing her out of my house and slamming the door in her face would give me the sweetest satisfaction, but how can I dare do such a thing when she is always accompanied into my home by Jesus, who insists that I make nice with her? I really wish I could see in her what Jesus does.
Let's try this once more
We all have lessons in life that make us feel like God has put His finger on the repeat button and forgotten to remove it. Frequently I find myself asking Him, "Didn't I already show you that I learned this? Why are we doing this again?"
As a former teacher, I know that when I teach a concept I must first introduce it to the students, reinforce it with supplemental activities, and then allow them to demonstrate mastery through some appropriate means of assessment. Because there are a myriad of concepts to be covered in the school year, students must demonstrate mastery in a short amount of time so that the next concept can follow suit. The students will likely forget what they've mastered within the year, but for the means of testing, it's a viable strategy. Apparently such methods don't exist when the teacher is a deity that exists outside of time and is more concerned with the total transformation of the student than a passed test.
Introducing the concept
Have you ever rushed a potty training toddler off of the toilet only to discover an ominous looking puddle on the carpet a few minutes later? I have. Have you ever sped to reach a particular event on time only to be stopped by a cop with sloth-like tendencies who causes you to lose all the precious time you had gained? I have. Have you ever been in a matatu that is stuck in traffic for an hour and begun hyperventilating because you are certain the hot, clammy steel cage with you and fifteen other people in it will become the source of your demise? No? Well, I have.
The American culture is known for being a culture that has issues with waiting. Some of you may even be familiar with the nickname we have as the microwave culture. Whatever we want, we want it fast and we want it now. If we don't get it when we want it, we'll find something else to suit our needs. In response, the framework of our society has adapted to this perspective. Pizza joints, mail services, and internet providers vie to have the fastest product. When everyone around you is catering to your "I need it now" demand, it's very easy to become complacent in a lifestyle that is counter-cultural to the way of the kingdom.
We know that patience is a virtue and that anyone who houses the Spirit of God should demonstrate its fruit, but what does that actually mean?
Patience is the endurance of difficult or strenuous circumstances without complaint. It's waiting without letting people know how much you're being inconvenienced. That also counts the grumbling and complaining we do in our heads, by the way. I've fooled a lot of people into thinking that I'm patient because of my quietness, but God knows the unmentionable things I scream in my head. He knows that I'm impatient. Patience is more than something we're encouraged to have, it's a character trait that every Christian must demonstrate. It's an identifier to those around us that we come from a breed of people that can remain unperturbed even in the most dire situations.
Reinforcing the concept
Most people wouldn't call a wedding a dire situation, but you couldn't convince me otherwise when we had our African wedding. As much as I hate to admit it, the reason my face doesn't appear in many of the wedding pictures is because it was very rare for me to not have a look of utter frustration on my face in most of the pictures. No one had prepared me for a wedding where waiting is the order of the day. The ceremony was delayed two hours while we waited, fully clothed in wedding garb, for all of the wedding party and family members to arrive; once we arrived at the church, I had to stay hidden in a hot car while the wedding party took thirty minutes to proceed into the church. (I'm not exaggerating either. African processionals have been known to last for an hour or two. Lots and lots of dancing and baby steps.) I could go on and on about how the wedding tested my patience, but I don't want to sound ungrateful. Ray's family put together a beautiful cultural celebration, and I learned so much and had fun in those moments directly following a deep breath. Even so, the wedding was undoubtedly my biggest challenge of patience since I've been here. If it was a test for mastery, I failed miserably, which explains why I've had to go back into reinforcement mode all over again.
I could tell plenty of stories of how this culture has tested my patience, almost all of which other American missionaries I've spoken to here can identify with, but I think you get the point. Patience is not a virtue I possess, and the Lord will continue reinforcing this concept until I can claim otherwise.
Mastering the concept
At this point, there's not much I can say about achieving mastery in this area. One day I'll be able to share some sage advice I've gleaned from my time overseas, but as of now, that is not the case. I can share a bit of hope in the meantime though. Instead of asking God to help me be more patient, I've been asking Him to teach me to love. When people attend weddings here, they are willing to wait for hours upon hours because their love for the couple outweighs their desire to keep their makeup from melting off their face. I'm discovering that if I truly possess the kind of love Christ desires of me, patience will come a lot easier. I talk more about this concept in my "Jesus, Love Through Me" post on The Spark Mag, so I won't get into it here, but it's all a work in progress. The incredibly assuring factor in the slow progress I'm making is the fact that Christ will not stop teaching me until He has completed the good work that He began. One day I'll get there, I've just got to be patient as I wait for that day to arrive.
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. ― Mark Twain
If clothes truly make the man, it feels like I'm undergoing a serious makeover. As a teen, my favorite episodes of any talk show would be the makeover specials. Watching ordinary women turn into super models fascinated me... probably because I was strictly forbidden from wearing makeup and the majority of my clothes were secondhand. Living vicariously through the lucky makeover recipients was the next best thing as far as I was concerned, but I couldn't wait until the day that I could be my own boss and give myself a total makeover.
A dream unrealized
Following the stereotypical course of most college students, I left my parents and set off to find myself. Several piercings, tattoos, hair color and wardrobe changes later, I came to the conclusion that makeovers are fun until you're broke. Eventually I went back to what I was used to. Little to no makeup and secondhand clothes. Plain Jane all the way, baby.
Years of maintaining a wardrobe of sweatpants, shorts, short (but not too short) dresses, and cut up t-shirts became the norm for me, and I was fairly comfortable with the self that I had found. I was never on trend, but I was modest and comfortable. That's all I really cared about.
Once again, place me in a culture that runs perpendicular to mine, and I find that I'm not what I thought I was, at least not by their standards. Apparently most of the clothing I brought with me isn't very modest. From my first week of arrival until today, this has been a point of contention for Ray and me. Yes, you did read that right. Ray and I fight about clothes... a lot. Mark Twain wasn't kidding. Clothes make the man, and you don't realize how much your identity is wrapped up in your clothing until you are forced to change.
Here capris are considered shorts, actual shorts are out of the question, my knee-length dresses are too short, and no one wears sweatpants in public (I am most heartbroken about that). Now don't get me wrong. It's not just Ray that questions my wardrobe. Sometimes it's other people that mention it to him and then he has to be the one to deal with my resulting tantrum and pleas of, "I don't care! Just let me be myself! I'm an American, not a Kenyan!" (If I believed in using more than one exclamation point at a time, I would put three on that last statement.)
Matters of conscience
I'm sure some of you would probably agree with my response, and I would still be on the bandwagon with you, if it wasn't for a recent conviction I got from some Scriptures Ray and I read together a few weeks ago.
1 Corinthians 8 describes Paul's stance on matters of conscience. He poses the example of eating animals that had been sacrificed for the purposes of idol worship. Because idols were nothing but pieces of stone, not real deities of any sort, Paul knew that there was no spiritual or supernatural issue with eating meat meant for the blocks of rock. Even so, there were others that just couldn't get over the principle of the matter. If food had been sacrificed in the name of an idol, it was defiled. No question. Shut the book; don't open it again. Regardless of what Paul knew to be true, he refused to do what he knew was okay if it came at the expense of someone else's conscience. He also exhorted the Corinthians/us to do the same:
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (vs. 9)
A stumbling block to the weak
As Ray and I read this, I realized that yes, as an American, I have the right to wear whatever I want, but within the bounds of this culture I'm sending a very different message. Just a few chapters after the one that made me eat my foot, Paul makes what has become a controversial command in our modern world. He tells women to keep their heads covered when they pray or prophesy in the church. Maybe that's a bit weird in our culture, but in that particular culture, women who were considered loose or promiscuous went around with their heads uncovered. Paul was just trying to keep the women from giving off the wrong cultural message. Likewise, my husband is simply trying to keep me from becoming a stumbling block to some of the men around here.
Searching for some answers
So this is where you lovely people come in. Even though I know that I need to adjust to cultural expectations so that I keep others from stumbling and whatnot, I feel like I can't dress like myself. How would you suggest we go about this issue as a couple? How can I honor my husband and his culture, yet maintain my identity?
Have any of you mothers ever gone to a parent-teacher conference expecting to get praised on your superb parenting skills only to hear that little Billy doesn't play well with the other children?
"Billy has trouble sharing, Mrs. Doe. He hoards toys, hits the other children when they try to play with 'his' cars, and it appears that I am unable to increase his vocabulary beyond 'No' and 'Mine.'"
"Oh my! He's not like that at home... I don't know what could have gotten into him."
Not like this at home
Since I've been in Kenya, I've had a few conferences with the Lord with similar results...
As far as I was concerned, I was fairly generous in my pre-Kenya days. Whenever I had money or opportunity, I did what I could to help anyone whether I knew them or not. Of course I was sometimes accused of being stingy with my time - I often preferred solace over social gatherings - and I've held a grudge or two over people eating food I had set aside for myself, but I don't think the typical person would have used the word selfish when describing me... at least it wouldn't have been the first word that came to mind. Like most mothers would say of their children, in my home turf, I was a good kid.
Enter communal living
Ray and I have been married for three months and living in Kenya for about two months now, and cultural issues are brought up on the daily. Being careful not to blame everything on culture, we have learned to take whatever we're arguing about and put it through the "culture lens" before we start blaming problems on each others' character. As I've mentioned in a previous post, you don't really notice how much culture drives the way you live and the choices you make until you're in the middle of a culture that operates in a different manner.
Up until this point, Ray and I have been staying with various family members in Bungoma and Nairobi. Culturally, Kenyans are extremely accommodating. I don't use the adverb extremely lightly either. If a relative comes to your home and needs to stay for a undetermined amount of time, you feed them and give them shelter until the day they decide to leave. What's yours is theirs, no question. Of course as the guest you pitch in where you can and do your best to help the family cover your living expenses and upkeep, but it is generally the family's honor to serve you in their home. Being on the receiving end of such generosity has done wonders in transforming my perspective on hospitality, but it has also revealed how differently my culture has taught me to treat people.
Material czar in a material world
From day one of my arrival in Kenya, I've been quite protective of my things. If anyone wanted to touch my iPhone, I watched them like a hawk until their five minute time limit was up, including my husband. If anyone wanted to play with my guitar, I practically got ulcers worrying about what I would do if they broke it and I even put a sign on it asking people not to touch it unless I was around. If Ray and I bought laundry soap, I wanted to keep it in our room so no one else used it. And those are just a few examples. I have plenty more, but my husband has requested that I keep the self-criticisms to a minimum. (Good edit, babe.)
Anyway, there have been times in the past few months when I've realized how selfish I've been and felt the need to apologize. Do you know what response I hear the most? "It's okay, you're American. Most Americans are like that when they're here." As much as hearing that makes me feel better about myself and the fact that I'm not that screwed up, it makes me feel bad that such behavior is the norm back at home.
Eliminating "mine" from my vocabulary
Though culture plays a big role in my selfish behavior, there is an even bigger factor at play. I never really got it until today when I was reading through my Call to Die devotional by David Nasser. I've done this book about three times in my life, and every time I go through it, God highlights something new in my life that needs to die. Let me share a few quotes, first from David Nasser:
"When we realize all our possessions are a gift from God, we are much more openhanded and generous with them."
"The modern preoccupation with my this and my that has no place in the life of a person who has been redeemed by the blood of the Savior."
And another from missionary Jim Elliot:
"Father, let me be weak that I might loose my clutch on everything temporal. My life, my reputation, my possessions, Lord, let me loose the tension of the grasping hand. Even, Father, would I lose the love of fondling. How often I have released a grasp only to retain what I prized by 'harmless' longing, the fondling touch. Rather, open my hand to receive the nail of Calvary, as Christ's was opened - that I, releasing all, might be released, unleashed from all that binds me now."
Adopting a heavenly culture
Though I feel the struggle to change from one nation's culture to another, I need to remember that I'm actually not of this world, therefore my transition should be more vertical than horizontal. As my spiritual forefathers acknowledged themselves, I am an alien and stranger on this earth representing a kingdom that's not of this world. Because of this truth, the issue I'm facing is not "when in Rome, do as the Romans do", but it's a matter of demonstrating the character and nature of Christ in all that I do. It's a matter of submitting not just my life to God, but everything I own, with the knowledge that none of the things I believe are mine actually belong to me. It's a matter of truly loving my neighbor more than I love myself.
This is not going to be an easy transition, especially since it's a lifestyle I've been trained to live from childhood, but it's good to know that as I daily submit all that I am and have to Christ's lordship, He will take my feeble offering and transform it into something beautiful.