Nearly three and a half months have passed since I set foot in Thailand. Just like it does for most people, the homesickness is fading as time goes by. And the “rubber band” is slowly but surely relaxing.
Yes, time plays a big factor. And getting to know people here contributes much too. Something else I’ve discovered, though, is outlook. How you choose to view life can change a lot of things.
Life has more than its fair share of unpleasant events. There are many evil things, sad things, frustrating things, in this world. Being attacked by a dog, to name one right off the bat. Living a whole ocean away from home and having to fend for myself in the game of life. Working long hours in a draining environment. Getting sick without my mom to give me medicine or cook rice porridge for me. Having no close friends and being lonely. Such are the unfortunate realities of sin (and these struggles don’t even yet compare to the evils which others have endured or are experiencing now).
But at the same time… life also contains beauty. It abounds with colorful dashes of joy, with moments that make us happy. There’s the pink, yellow, and purple bougainvillea flowers growing in our yard. There’s the tofu I finally succeeded in frying without it sticking to the pan. There’s the string of little white lights I spur-of-the-moment strung up for our outdoor Thanksgiving party. (All the SM’s here will tell you how much I love lights.) There’s the guava my housemate went out on a special trip just to buy for me (the SM’s will also tell you how much I love guava). There are the hilarious moments we shared while cutting out snowflakes to decorate our house. There are the beautiful people, the smiling students, the developing friendships. And above all of that, there is the amazing peace and freedom which comes with knowing a God who loves me and who is for me. Especially as a Christian, life is by no means devoid of good things.
So I’ve learned that optimism is not denying the evil and exaggerating the good.
Optimism is choosing to dwell on the good rather than on the evil.
See, I don’t believe in dismissing the fact that children are starving just because there are birds singing in the sky. It is necessary for our well-being to, rather than pretend and bottle everything up, acknowledge what upsets or saddens us and take care of things as necessary. But once we have acknowledged and dealt with the negative circumstances and emotions, it’s time to move on. We don’t need to constantly be meditating on the things that make us sad or frustrated. Instead, live life looking at the things which give us joy.
I can’t choose which circumstances come my way. But I can choose which ones to focus and dwell on. This outlook has helped me tremendously with my homesickness. It allowed me to create bonds with people and make friends. It helped me remedy issues in my environment. I feel so much happier, and I have regained the motivation to teach my students every day.
It is my hope that sharing my experience will benefit yours. Claim and utilize the power Christ gives us to rejoice in all things, and look for the beauty He paints into each day. As always, thank you for your loving support and prayers.