During one furlough I was helping a friend clean the church. She and I each had vacuums. She plugged in her vacuum and started to sweep when she saw me standing and looking at my vacuum. She asked what was wrong and I bashfully responded that I didn’t know how to use a vacuum. She looked at me like I was crazy, “Abby, have you never used a vacuum before? Don’t you ever help clean the house?”
Funny stories like this are still happening to me. A few weeks ago, I was at home alone during a massive snow storm. I woke up to find almost a foot of snow in the driveway. I grabbed a shovel and began to clear the driveway. But, about thirty minutes later I had to phone my dad for help because I- at twenty years old- had never shoveled a driveway before. My family was getting ready for bed in Cambodia, but together we laughed at my snow shoveling efforts.
I could go on with more funny stories: the time I didn’t know which way to turn the faucet for hot water and cold water, the time I didn’t know how to tie my own shoes (that was embarrassing), or the time I argued with a cashier because I thought a US dollar equaled sixty cents. (I’d prefer not to tell you just how recent the last one was…)
I remember coming back to the States and being overwhelmed in Sunday school because as an eighteen-year old I didn’t know the simplest Bible verses. I didn’t know how to drive. I didn’t know any of the ‘normal’ church hymns. I didn’t know how to use a credit card. I didn’t know how to get gas. I didn’t even know my own address or phone number.
I felt overwhelmed and wrote in my journal, “I feel like a failure: I can’t drive, I can’t work, I don’t know the basics about American life… What has seventeen years of life in Cambodia taught me?????”
I felt inexperienced, inadequate, amateur, and incompetent about living in the U.S. I still struggle with these feelings even after living here for two years. I’ve had to realize, though, that I will always be making practical and social blunders. Despite these blunders, I can still be secure in knowing who I am: a child of Jesus. I’m not perfect at figuring out how to live life and I will never be.
Running to Jesus when I feel inadequate always works, because He is perfectly enough. He is enough when I don’t get the approval I want from man. He is enough when I have to say, ‘I don’t know how’. He is enough when I just don’t understand why something happens the way it does.
He is enough, and I can rest in that fact.
His plans for me are enough. He knew what He was doing when He had me grow up in Cambodia. My childhood perfectly prepared me. After seventeen years of life in Cambodia I might not have known how to fill up a gas tank or state the seven days of creation, but I knew how to relate across cultures and how to work hard. I quickly saw those two skills come in handy. There was a reason why I spent my teenage years picking bloody leeches off my feet instead of going on youth group activities. He knows what those reasons are.
No, I might not have known how to use a vacuum. But I know how to use a toothbrush to get grime out of grout in between tiles. I might not know how to shovel snow, but I can harvest rice. I might not know how many U.S. cents are in a dollar, but I can tell you how many Khmer Riel, or Korean Won, or Thai Baht are in a dollar. Despite all of this, though, my worth is not found in how much I ‘know’ something, whether it be something in Cambodia or in the U.S. My worth is found in the fact that I know the person who does know everything. My worth is found in the fact that He is enough.