I hit my 8-month mark in Spain this week, but it really doesn’t feel like it. It feels like I lived here for 4 months and winter somehow became summer. Two months ago, Spain was the center of the pandemic and you could feel the fear and heaviness in the air. But now, as things start to open up and the anxiety seems to be lifting, the storm has transferred to my home country with full force. There’s the pandemic and all its side effects, the confusion, the horrifying racial injustice, the political turmoil. It’s hard to filter out what’s actually going on from afar through all of the biased sources, but it’s clear that people are suffering.
It’s funny, in a way. I grew up in a culture that subconsciously (and maybe self-righteously) defined missions as going from the place of privilege and security to the place of risk and need. And now I’m the one who finds myself in the place of relative stability, watching suffering and injustice from afar and feeling helpless. I feel guilty for being so far-removed, as well as whiplash as I try to reorient myself to the Spanish rhythm of life while also being heartbroken over the news from home.
What’s the balance there? How can I immerse myself in the culture and people here while still feeling strong responsibilities and ties to my home culture? I believe that it’s important to continue the conversation of injustice especially now and to try to do as much as I can from afar, but how can I do that without being pulled back into the American mindset when it already takes so much concentration to keep myself present in the Spanish one? And for that matter, how do I respond to the injustices and suffering that I see here as well?
Maybe this blog post is inconclusive, but this year so far has exposed more questions than answers for me. If anything, it reminds me that brokenness exists in every culture, and every place on earth is in desperate need of God’s redemption. As I take these questions to God, the answers often come back in the form of more questions: Who is in front of me that I can love right now? What do I actually have and not have control over? Am I putting my confidence in the systems of this world, or in his power over it?
Throughout my time here, I’m discovering more that living in the uncertainties creates new opportunities for growth. Acknowledging my own deficiencies and lack of wisdom points me back to my constant need for God and moves me from cynicism to a posture of learning. It’s through asking the questions that we push back against complacency, expose hard truths, and find out what we actually need to learn. Can we find peace with living through the questions?