In Praise of the Struggle

I’ve already heard time and time again—things take longer in China. I think it’s hard to fully understand what this means unless you’re here—and obviously I haven’t really grasped the gravity of this, especially in my current hotel dwelling.  Yet, it has still been evident. Last night, I went with a group of fellow teachers to a Chinese tea house for a cultural show.  It ended and we thought we’d take a cab home.  After about 20 minutes of trying to navigate how to get to the street around a series of fences preventing us from getting there, at last we reach the street, and very unsuccessfully attempt to hail a cab. Finally, realizing we could have been halfway home on the subway, we give up.  Then we navigate some more fences to arrive at the subway.  And eventually about an hour later we are back at our “home.”

On our way home, my friend and I began to talk about values…and how when life gets easier it does not always translate to better.  Or at least better for our lives, our friendships, our souls. Even in my short time in China, I have more of an awareness, an appreciation for many things that can easily be taken for granted at home.

I am also reminded how often when everything is relatively easy and within reach we can lose sight of our dependence on one who is greater.  On our interdependence on one another.

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We’ve oft heard the quote: “anything worthwhile takes time.”  But I wonder how often we miss out on the reward because we don’t want to take part in the inevitable struggle.  But perhaps what is worthwhile is not only the outcome, but also the character produced from the journey.

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What’s that?

Anna and Mack slide

As I prepare to leave for China, I can’t help but think of the world’s cutest child–my only niece Mackenzie. (And no,  I am not at all bias.)  At a little over 2, she is currently at the “what’s that?” stage of life.  Whether it be a plug in the wall or a ladder on the dock, she is curious about the names and functions of the all of these objects in her world. Her mom has said that she is sure what will be next, the inevitable question of, “why?” When I think of her curiosity, something that is does not hold judgment or prejudice, but simple childlike wonder, it challenges me as I enter into a new world. In this new world, I’m sure there will be many times when I’m sure I will ask the question–what’s that? And many times, I will be tempted to not adopt a childlike posture when I ask that question. I might even realize that I have never asked the question, “why?” in determining why I do things the way that I do…I have simply answered the question as parents sometimes do, “just because that’s the way it is.”  I hope that as I leave for China, I will learn from the childlike wonder and curiosity of Mackenzie–that I will be able to ask questions without being blinded by my own ideas…and be willing to not only hear the what, but also learn the why.