When you stay long enough in one place, no matter how foreign the country when you arrive, life happens. Coming and visiting for only a week or two or three, everything remains strange and new. Your senses and mind are constantly stimulated. But the longer I stay in India, the more I wear familiar tracks through the culture, the more the commonness of the human heart begins to show through. Underneath the food, the clothes, methods of bathing, wearing hair, or washing laundry, I find we are more same than different.
Mothers worry about their children. Children need to be kept from shirking their homework or being disrespectful. Money needs to be spent wisely. Neighbors enjoy chatting and sharing life, their children running the neighborhood streets in their play. Students feel insecure about presenting their work. Parents smile proudly and take pictures of their children’s performances. Those who are popular ostracize those who are less. Any form of organized religion struggles with bureaucracy. People try to use guilt as a motivational tool. Hearts grumble at what they consider an inconvenience.
No matter where we come from, we all have reasons to laugh, reasons to cry. We all struggle with fears, insecurities. We can all choose to be discontent or grateful. We all feel the pain of losing a loved one. We all dream, have things we want out of life. And whether we know it or not, we all have a need for God. Essentially, we are all human.
There are moments I forget that I am in India. Tonight I was at a children’s program that could’ve happened in America… almost. But the differences are becoming so familiar I only barely notice. Ironically, it is usually when I see another foreigner with white skin that I am reminded the rich brown tones of skin surrounding me are not the ‘normal’ I was born seeing. It makes me wish I could lie out in the sun long enough that my skin would also retain such warmth and color.
The sameness of human needs presses me to remember the steadfast presence of my God. As I look towards leaving India in only four short weeks, I can only find comfort in reminding myself that there is nothing about Indian culture that can make the sweetness of God’s presence in my life any more or any less. He will be the same wherever my feet are lead to journey, whatever season he carries me towards. As long as there are human hearts there will always be needs. There will always be life pressing forward. The only thing to keep me from finding it will be myself if I allow my heart to grumble.