There are so many things my American self had to get over living overseas. So many. So many times I had to squelch an eye roll and sigh silently to myself. So many times I had to remember that different doesn’t equal wrong or crazy.
For example, ice in drinks. A totally normal and complete way of life for us Americans is seen as a sure fire way to make you sick in other countries. If I had a forint or a crown or a euro for every time a citizen from one of those countries told me that ice in my drink would make me sick, I would be very wealthy in three separate currencies. Every time that phrase was uttered, I said something along the lines of, “Oh, I’ll be ok.”
I never said what I actually thought. I never actually said, “Seriously? I’ve been drinking ice in drinks my whole life. I guarantee you it won’t make me sick. In fact, the whole country of the USA puts ice in their drinks and no one gets sick. In fact, we even have different kinds of ice: cubes, crushed or Sonic which has ice that’s made in heaven and shipped to America on angels’ wings.”
Nope. Never said that.
Overcoming my American self meant overcoming my sense of entitlement. Recognizing areas of entitlement in my life did not happen until I moved overseas and I had to begin living without claim to much at all. From the insignificant moments like being chastised for my normal practice of putting ice in my drink to the bigger ones like expecting a certain level of emergency room care for my child only to realize that idea was Not-An-Option.
Entitlement is the silent enemy of overseas workers. It creeps in slowly like dusk and then envelops you in its darkening clutches.
I’ve seen overseas workers leave the field for no other reason than entitlement.
I am entitled to a car.
I am entitled to better medical care.
I am entitled to more square feet of living space.
I am entitled to live without the headache of . . .
I am entitled to raise my children according to my disciplinary rules and not the rules of the country in which I live.
There is but one way to overcome this fallacious attitude. And that is to remember that the only thing I am truly entitled to is death. We must remember that there is no one righteous, no not one, there is no one who seeks God. We must look at ourselves through the stained lens of the blood of Jesus, only then will we see with a level of clarity that gives us the strength to overcome our entitlements. And overcome we must, as women who follow Jesus striving to overcome is not an option. We must overcome anything that attempts to separate us from loving and serving Christ fully.
I started my eleven years of overseas life in Hungary and it was Hungary that began to open my eyes to my vast sense of entitlement. In my experience, serving overseas is akin to holding up a mirror that reflects every single fault within ourselves. We all know things become magnified overseas. I believe this to be true of our faults as well. Sinful attitudes become magnified. But I say that is a blessing. For it is a blessing to shed the sins that entangle us, and shedding is easier if our awareness is keener.
Overcoming is a common theme in scripture. And it all begins with overcoming ourselves, our flesh that wanders and dives headfirst into a dark sea of sin and entitlement. One of the keys that opens the door to successful ministry overseas is overcoming our entitlements and inviting Christ to work marvelous ministry in us during the process.
If you want to see how God worked a miracle in a young woman overseas you can read my book Stepping Stone: Finding Life and Love in a Foreign Land.
And if you want to rid yourself of pressing entitlement, precious servant, pray to the One who holds you in His hand and ask Him to begin removing the layers. He is faithful and to be trusted during the process.
Have you already begun this process?
Or are you willing to?