So what are we doing at the moment? We are watching grass grow. Both literally and figuratively.
First, let’s talk about the literal viewing. A few months ago, we decided to get someone to help us plant some grass in our yard. It should take three days, we were told. Quick job, we thought. How very wrong we were.
Now, in Australia, if one wants to plant grass, one would usually either put down turf or scatter seed. The results may be different but even scattering seed produces grass fairly quickly.
Things don’t work like that here. The process is much slower. The initial change is obvious, from a yard overtaken by fast-growing weeds to carefully planted tufts of grass. But then we wait, day after day, week after week, for months, until it finally spreads and covers the ground like a green carpet. In the meantime, a daily battle is waged against insidious weeds that try to trick us into thinking they are the real thing. I have become really good at discerning the good from the fake. But I always lose the battle and have to call the gardener in again to help regain the upper hand.
A daily review of the grass’ growth status reveals little change. It can be so frustrating. But slowly, slowly it is growing and spreading. And there have been unexpected blessings. Like getting to know the gardener and her family, visiting their church and their home, practicing language with her, and being convicted by her strong work ethic and by the generosity she shows to our children.
Figuratively speaking, we also feel like we are watching grass grow in our day-to-day lives. When we first moved here, the initial changes were obvious and encouraging, with new discoveries and adventures to be had daily. But now the changes are more slight. Five months in, some things have lost their exciting newness; we don’t have the daily encouragement of conquering new things. The weeds of discouragement can grow quickly if they are not promptly removed. Many days here we are frustrated because we feel like we have done nothing worthwhile.
Herein lies the battle. We like quick results. I want instant deep relationships. I want to know my neighbours and converse with them. I want the school project to be fully funded, location determined… I want my kids to speak the local language already! But is being here about what I want?
We are learning that there is value in the waiting; in the slowing down. A subtle changing of priorities, a realisation that we are so incredibly results driven but that is not necessarily the best way, time to learn new ways, time to pray. And as I must be vigilant not to let the weeds win, to pull them out before they choke my new grass, so too, in my attitude, I must not let the weeds of discouragement and doubt win. I must continually pluck them out, through prayer, through conversation, even through this letter, so they do not fester and choke out the good. And instead, I must take the time to look for the positives.
The author is an Interserve On Tracker in South East Asia.