I stood in the market and stared down at the dairy products. I was determined to buy milk instead of yogurt this time. The trick was figuring out which was which. I started shaking each jug at my ear, listening for the swish of liquid milk or the sludge of thin yogurt.
Aware of how ridiculous I looked, I quickly made my guess, purchased the jug, and then headed for home. With high hopes, I pulled a cup from the cupboard, opened the jug and poured.
I had picked the wrong one … again.
With a heavy sigh, I grabbed the yogurt and went across the hallway to my teammates’ apartment. It was time to give in and ask for help … again. Mentally I tallied the daily failures of my new foreign life. They were adding up.
I hesitated before knocking on their door.
Why, why did it grate against me so to have to come to them and ask for help?
After all, I had spent the last two years asking people to help me, to partner and give so that my husband and I could come and serve overseas. That had been easier for me. Why?
Cross-cultural workers are supposed to raise support. It’s expected. But then once I get overseas, I’m supposed to be able to figure out life. I expect to be able to do this, to handle this.
To find myself so dependent, or rather desperate, for the help of others went against every prideful bone in my body. Apparently I have a lot of prideful bones, because this whole process revealed in me my deep value of self-sufficiency.
I saw that my whole sense of self worth was tied to what I was able to do. When I am suddenly stripped of my ability to even speak or read or write, when I am surrounded by an environment in which I am more helpless than a child, what good am I?
Blow by blow, my pride began to crumble, and I learned to lean on others for help. It was better than living without milk.
I also learned to drop my pride to the floor like a stooge and try out all forms of my halting language ability, partnered with grand hand gestures and sweet, pleading smiles. Sometimes that worked too.
It was the beginning of a new way of life for me, a life where I couldn’t hide my inabilities, a life where I learned to say the words, “Could you help me?”
A self-sufficient life lacks the beauty and depth that comes only from opening up your vulnerable needs and allowing others to meet you in those tender places.
Humility is letting those needs be known.
Humility is knowing when you are not enough and being okay with that.
Humility is rejoicing in the strengths of others instead of comparing and berating your own weaknesses.
Humility is dropping the facades and experiencing the true friendship that springs from authenticity.
Humility is never forgetting what it is to feel lost, alone, afraid.
How has life overseas humbled you?
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