I heard someone say something several years ago. They said, "To the degree that your identity rests on anything other than the fact that God loves you, you are to that degree insecure." I think most people would agree with that in theory, but it took moving overseas for me to realize what that actually looks like in real life.
I've lost it on people twice in the last few days, over the most trivial things. A few days ago I was playing dominoes with a friend at a coffee shop. At the end of the game I was counting up the score. I usually try to count the score out loud in Arabic for the sake of my friends. I can do the math a lot faster if I do it in English, but nobody else will understand anything. So I do it in Arabic. Simple math takes a little longer when you're translating while you're doing it. Anyway, some guy apparently thought I was taking too long, so he came and took the dominoes from me and started counting. And I snapped! I stood up, got in his face, and told him in no uncertain terms that I didn't want or need any help. He started laughing, so I just turned and walked off. I haven't been back there for a couple of days. Did I mention that the guy I yelled at is the owner of the coffee shop? Yikes!
Then today I was walking through the neighborhood, and stopped at a shop to get something for breakfast. I stop at this shop all the time, and the people who work there know me. This morning there was another guy shopping at the store too. I was waiting for him to finish so I could pay. While I was standing there he turned around and told me in English how much each thing cost. I told him quite rudely that I knew how much things cost, and didn't need his help. He was a little shocked, so I went on to tell him that I was insulted that he thought I was a tourist just because I'm white. I went on for quite a bit longer than was necessary, and he was quite apologetic by the end. He was probably just trying to be helpful.
Then I paid and walked away . . . feeling like a total jerk. I decided that since I'd snapped on people twice now with very little provocation, that's a good indication that there's probably something going on in my heart. I spent some time praying and thinking about it this morning, and I realized something. When you live overseas, you're very limited in what you're able to do. My language skills are still pretty limited, and there's a lot of things I don't know how to say. I feel like an idiot a lot of the time here because I just don't know how to express myself. I know what I want to say, I just don't know how to get it out in Arabic. And Egyptians are fond of telling you how much better at things they are than you. And after a while, you get tired of it. Because there's not a whole lot I can do, I get pretty militant about the things that I can do. If I don't need help, I certainly don't want it.
I don't know whether I'm trying to prove to myself or the Egyptians that I'm a capable person. But I've realized something. It's not a big stretch for me to believe that God loves me. I can tell you all the verses and sing all the songs. The real crux of the issue is this; "is that enough?" If that really is all I've got going for me, can I be content with that? If my Arabic never gets any better, if I don't have any friends that aren't trying to use me to get something, if nothing else goes right, can I honestly be content with the knowledge that God loves me?
I know what the right answer is, believe me. But when you're in a place where you don't have much else to stroke your ego, you find out just how "enough" the love of God really is for you. If the last few days are any indication of the state of my heart, there's quite a bit of work left to be done.