By Kristen Lim
Arriving at the airport, tired from a day-long journey, I stepped into Malaysia for the second time but for the first time I would call it my new “home.” This was a whole new experience for me, I had just graduated from college and made the decision to move to Malaysia leaving all comfort and routine behind me. The few true supports I felt I had in Malaysia were my soon-to-be husband and best friend, family, and God. I would walk into a new life with new challenges, new comforts and a new perspective on change.
Coming from America to live in Malaysia has had its ups, downs and challenges along the way. The people are different, the culture is different, the languages are different, and the weather is different. As I went through every day in a new environment, I found myself searching for something familiar, something that I could grasp onto. I found that comfort in my husband, his family, his church and ultimately in God. Although it was hard at first, being away from my homeland and all of my family members, I found myself less worried and less alone. Slowly, over time, I became a bit more accustomed to a new way of life here in Malaysia.
Although the United States of America is a land full of many cultures, it’s important to know that I have always been seen as a normal, average white person, nothing particularly special about that. After coming here, I was intimidated by stares and attention that I was constantly receiving in public. I thought, “I’m just a person, what is so interesting?” Even more so, as I held my husband’s hand in public, we often were a topic of interest. People wouldn’t even try to hide looks of shock or curiosity as we would receive points and whispers in our direction. In the States it’s considered rude and often uncommon to stare, so imagine my reaction when it continuously happened to me. It was hard for me to accept the situation.
I felt like I didn’t belong, like a fish out of water. I was kept grounded by the support of my husband, those who understood me, and in God. It took a while for me to accept that I’m different here, and that’s just a fact. Over time, I would eventually learn to ignore the stares and instead, focus on whatever I was doing, who I was with and the faith I had in God.
“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
After living in Malaysia for 10 months, I still get stares. The difference between when I first arrived and now is that I forget that I’m different. I think, “Why are they staring? Oh yeah.. I’m a very pale, white American”. This is actually a really good sign from when I thought I wouldn’t be able to fit in to now when I forget that I’m any different from my new family here in Malaysia.
COMFORT IN THE CHANGE
Change can be hard, trust me this I know. Although change can be hard, that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing! It may be tough and you may not like it, but there is a reason for why we are put in a position of change. There is purpose for being stirred up and forced to adapt. Whether good or bad, we can learn from change. Think about it; once we were just little babies comfortable at home and then one day we were told that we had to go to school. This change excited or scared us but in the end we gained an education and learned so much along the way. That’s the important aspect of change – the journey. Although we may struggle through our journey we should hold fast to the fact that the God we serve and the God who loves us is never changing. God is our constant in the midst of chaos.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)
I believe God uses events of challenges and change in our lives to continue moulding and shaping us into the people He hopes us to be. Think about Saul and his journey. Saul’s entire way of thinking was challenged and changed for the better. Even Saul’s name was changed for the shaping of the person God planned him to be. The journey of Saul to Paul to the apostle and missionary was an important one. Saul became Paul, a different man and a new adaptation to life; a true servant of God.
Like Saul, we are not perfect; we are ever changing in the hands of God. I found comfort and still find comfort daily in the fact that I have God on my side. No matter the circumstance we should look at all changes through the eyes of our father in Heaven. Find comfort in knowing that God is the one who has a plan for you. He is there for us throughout our many journeys, challenges and changes in our lives, all we have to do is follow Him.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)