I remember back in high school hearing my home town being described as the “Kingwood Bubble.” I’ll admit that I too referred to it as such not only because in someways it was the thing preventing us from the real world but that everything seemed to be perfect. I can’t think of a time I felt unsafe during my years that I lived in Kingwood. It was like this image that as soon as you saw the giant wooden sign signifying that you had arrived into Kingwood that you felt safe. All you saw was suburb after suburb that contained homes with yards, joyful kids playing in the streets, community members going for an evening walk with their dog. There was just a sense of protection that one felt, at least that I felt. Sure, Kingwood had it’s problems but I would say to the average eye no one saw them. We lived in a bubble that was protecting us from the real world. In many ways I am incredibly thankful that I grew up in this context. I’m thankful that I have the feeling of what it is to be safe and protected. However, I will admit that I was excited to leave Kingwood and experience the real world once graduation came. I was ready to see what this real world was all about.
The funny thing is that I moved to a university that I quickly heard described as the “UMHB Bubble.” However, I didn’t mind because I was in a new place and that was exciting. It was a new world to me. So I spent the next four years living in a place that I once again felt safe in. I can’t remember a time where I worried about this or that, but just felt at home. I was comfortable. Everyone around me was so nice and was presumably a Christian. Once again I was surrounded by this imaginary bubble that seemed to be protecting me from this so called real world. I remember at moments thinking that life outside this bubble can’t be that bad. But then I would experience moments of realness and found myself looking forward to being once again surrounded by that bubble, a clear wall of protection that shielded me from the reality that existed outside. It was a nice place to be and I honestly enjoyed being comfortable.
I guess I say all that to say that figuratively that bubble has been popped. It was popped the time I was walking in downtown Bangkok and a man shoved a menu in my face that displayed the women he had for sale that night. It was popped when I was in Cambodia this past weekend and I saw with my own eyes a white male stop and make his selection of which young girl he wanted to ask to be his girl for the night. It was popped when four people were killed during one of the many political protests that are going on in Bangkok right now. It was popped when I saw those two young children asleep on the bus floor last week. That feeling of being safe has become unfamiliar because so much brokenness, darkness, and sickness is what surrounds me on a daily basis. I no longer am living in the quaint city of Belton, Texas or the quiet suburbs of Kingwood. I no longer can rely on a safe neighborhood, schooling system, crime rates, family, friends, or a Christian atmosphere to provide that safe bubble I enjoyed living in.
I’m now living in what I would call the real world. Those once thoughts that the real world wasn’t going to be “that” bad are gone and as much as I wish the world could all be like the bubbles I previously lived in, that’s just not the case. Since being here the way I viewed and thought about the world have drastically changed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m safe here but the world we live in is not. Perhaps this is something that you come to learn once you’re no longer a kid, but I think the sooner we learn this lesson the quicker we will gain a perspective of the world in which the way God see’s it. The world isn’t full of lush green front yards and churches on every street corner, it’s a dangerous place that is desperately in need of being introduced to Jesus Christ.
The bubble has been popped and here I stand. The only thing that I can truly rely on is my Lord Jesus Christ and the promises His word provides. Moving to Bangkok removed this invisible wall of protection from this dangerous world, but are there ways that you can begin removing that wall yourself? Challenge yourself to view the world realistically and then ask how you can respond.