This is part two in a four-part series on Living for More. Today we'll look at what it means to live for more Outside the Door.
You’d think by now I would have mastered this art of balancing plates, removing shoes, holding my kids, and shaking hands—all somehow expected in the same moment.
Throughout my six years in this country, I’ve certainly been to enough of these acaras. These Indonesian parties have different hosts, different income levels, different purposes—weddings, birthday parties, baby celebrations, religious holidays—but that look about the same to me.
The guest arrives, is urged to fill their plate and their kids’ plates with rice and vegetables and meat buffet-style, remove all the shoes, enter their house, sit on the floor and eat and chat. The plates are always made of glass, and I focus on not dropping the full plate, or the baby in my arms—though if I had to choose, I suppose I should let the plate fall.
I rarely have to do this on my own, though, as people emerge to help remove kids’ shoes and hold the baby. And I eventually find myself on a colorful rug eating ginger-traced food on my sticky rice.
Last week, I attended a “Baby Swing” ceremony which involves special Arabic prayers, a first hair-cutting, and the placing and removing and placing and removing of the baby in a swing decorated with bananas and coconut leaves. Everything has a meaning, even if everyone doesn’t know what the meanings are.
I was busy interacting with my friend—the mother of the baby and feeding my daughter spoonfuls of rice. Evan didn’t want the rice, but liked the melon on my plate. When he’d eaten my two pieces, I encouraged him to go play with the other kids.
But the family crowded around, saw Evan’s liking for the melon and brought him the full plate of cut-up melon from the buffet table. Before I knew it, Evan had eaten half of the plate, and I urged him to stop eating.
“That’s enough.” I scolded him in my own language that I figured the others wouldn’t understand.
“More, more.” The women’s tones were reprimanding—toward me—as they urged Evan, handing him more pieces, not happy until Evan’s chin was dripping with a plateful of melon juice.
And I watched him eat it all—every last piece of the melon meant for dozens of guests.
This happens all the time here. I restrain myself from eating in the home of a poor friend, who I know just spent a months’ worth of salary on food for her guests. But they urge me on, not caring about leftovers or budgets or having enough for the next guest. I am the queen there, and I must consume enough food for dozens of guests or somehow I’ve insulted the host.
This responsible restraint versus all-out giving is east versus west at its core. And I open the gifts that living here offers. The treasure of valuing people more than cash. Of living with the moment’s memories instead the day’s schedules. Of seeking companionship over solitude.
Sometimes life feels like too much here—too much heat, too many words I still don’t know, too much attention, too many needs.
I want to look at this world and say, “that’s enough,” and turn away and live quietly and simply in the comfortable walls of my house. And sometimes I do say it to the fingers that pinch my kids’ cheeks or to the never-stopping requests to teach someone English.
But when I stick around and watch the needs that never go away be met by God’s abundance that never runs dry, I get to witness a love story that never ends.
And when I draw from His Fullness to cover the sacrifices from my own life and the complications in my own heart and the interruptions in my own schedule they become opportunities for more good things. More generosity from nothingness. More friendships from strangers. More bravery from fear.
And the amazing thing is that in the giving of His Love, I become the receiver of His Passion. And I can rest in the More Living instead of becoming frantic in the Falling Short.
I do not pursue a quiet, simple life, but seek a God who can turn my simple life into more than myself. And something amazing happens--both inside the door and out.
I become the plate of God’s sweetness and I urge others to take more and more. For this is the body of Christ, given for you.
photo credit, Aunt Owwee