Since coming abroad, I have realized how much of a homebody I actually am.
Anyone reading that sentence is likely to be shocked, since I am not a homebody in the traditional sense of the word. I am always out exploring, adventuring, and traveling. Homebodies, by definition, prefer to stay at home and are perceived as unadventurous.
Let me explain.
I used to say that I am most comfortable in a room where no one knows me, and that I almost always prefer new places and faces to old ones. My favorite friend used to always be my most recent acquaintance. I have come to realize that this was because I deeply desired a clean slate in order to be able to recreate myself and prove myself and enter into relationships with no past mistakes or hardships. I also had a tendency to idolize the consumption of experiences, and thought the more I experienced the more whole or fulfilled I would be.
I was so comfortable and confident in rooms where no one knew me because I could be the center of attention and hide simultaneously. I would hide behind my mask of perfection and accomplishment and goodness, and no one would have any grounds not to believe me. Ha. Had ‘em right where I wanted ‘em. I could be whoever I wanted.
As relationships go on, they get harder. My image of perfection is slowly replaced with a more accurate picture that includes my weaknesses, brokenness, and sin. I mess up. My selfishness shows through my silly façade of perfection, and my pride becomes evident despite my angelic image.
I used to hate this. Like reaaaaaally hate it. I felt like after people saw me for who I truly am, they would only see the bad parts of me for the rest of eternity.
Before leaving for Spain, I feared that my decision to go abroad stemmed from this continual desire for a clean slate in order to appear like I had it all together. If not that, then from a belief that the more I experienced the more whole I would be as a person. Abroad seemed to be the perfect setting to indulge both these weaknesses, and yet, it has taught me much.
I am coming to grips with the fact that I am a broken human with a deep need for a Savior, and the only good in me is due to Christ’s redeeming work on my heart. I have not earned or deserved any of the titles, accomplishments, or positions I possess. If this is true, then comparison is truly laughable, as is portrayal of oneself as “good” or “better” than anyone else. No amount of experience will heal my brokenness, I cannot save myself. Quantities of experience are irrelevant unless they are done with an intention to love deeply and glorify the Lord.
Instead of going out and continually desiring to meet new people and consume all the experiences I can in a new place, I now prefer to connect to a few people deeply. I believe that every person desires to be fully known and fully loved; despite their flaws and imperfections. I used to try to preserve too many relationships, and thus, I was not able to give to anyone, nor was I able to truly know and be known. People rarely saw beyond the mask I hid behind because my calendar was always full and I was afraid of my own pride and brokenness.
I have now come to fully embrace my homebodiness. Madrid is wonderful, but I long to return to my family and community in Virginia and North Carolina, and just sit with the people I love.
Today, I am spending Halloween at the home of some family friends in Barcelona and savoring family life here.
I am more than content to teach this family how to carve pumpkins, listen to their stories, learn about their traditions, and allow them to know me in all of my faults and brokenness. I think slowing down is the most important part of life, and let me tell you, Spaniards know how to do it. There are about 324892369 things that “every tourist needs to do” in Barcelona that I will leave here without experiencing, but that’s okay. I will leave with a few important relationships strengthened, and a feeling of rejuvenation from time spent in a loving home. This is what I have been given this weekend, and what I get to look forward to returning to in the United States.
Life is most beautiful when we take off our masks, empty our calendars, and sit with the few we love the most in the places we love the most.