I have feared the inability to understand my own emotions. One experience in particular stands out among these puzzling periods. One day, we quickly drove past a man walking who from behind appeared to be naked from the waist down. “Surely he just has brown pants on,” I thought, however naively. Before I knew what I was doing, I glanced in the rearview mirror to confirm my assumption. I was wrong.
I quickly averted my eyes and made a half Nepali joke. “That’s a naked manchhe” I said, with an uncomfortable laugh. From afar, we saw people pass him nonchalantly. Later, my husband asked his friend what the police do about this behavior. He shrugged, “Maybe just tell him to button up his shirt.” Sure enough, Paul passed the naked manchhe along the road again and a couple buttons were fastened but he wasn’t in a much more appropriate state.
At home, I carried on my responsibilities but the sick feeling in my stomach lingered. I felt irritable, distracted, and on the verge of tears. Perhaps this was my first major culture shock moment, though we had been here for a few months already.
Later that night I felt like I should explain to Paul why I had been acting so strangely. Though he had seen it too, I assumed he wasn’t feeling quite as “icky” as I was. Reluctantly and a little ashamedly, I told how my stomach felt queazy, my head felt cloudy, and I just couldn’t shake this near-tears feeling.
Thankfully, my sweet man affirmed my feelings. That this reality flies in the face of everything we know to be right and decent culturally and spiritually. Like me, that day, he wanted to scream “What is wrong with you people? Does anyone see this? Why isn’t anyone doing anything?”
For me, it was, possibly, the first time I came to grips with the darkness within which I raise my family, kind of like my “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” moment. This is the world I have to wake up to every day. A new dependency on the Lord was awakened in my heart. After a good night sleep and much prayer, the heaviness lifted. Though I pray that I or my family never have to witness such things again, I am thankful we have been brought here to be a light in this dark place.
I know that these times of not understanding my emotions will come again as I am faced with realities of life in this country. While my husband may not always be able to affirm my feelings as he did in this scenario, I know that the God who made me and knows all my inner-workings is not shocked by my thoughts. Though they may manifest from a heart of sin and doubt, He can turn them into something beautiful through His Holy Spirit’s work in my life. Something that can change lives and enlist workers for His kingdom.
Have you ever come to grips with your confusing emotions with the Lord’s help?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!