Today was filled with private victories. Perhaps to some, the events today would have been considered mundane and have come and gone with the wind, but it is these small, personal victories that bolster my self-confidence.
Why did I feel victorious today?
1. These past couple days have been overwhelming spiritually. One of my personal goals while in Japan is to deepen my faith through self-education and evangelization by simply trying my best to live an exemplary, holy life. But while thinking of people in my own life who are model examples of Roman Catholicism, I began to feel small. How do I measure up to them? In addition, what exactly does He want me to know and learn? Sometimes, I feel like I’m not enough or I’m not doing enough or I don’t know enough. In the intensity of my plea to God to reveal what He wants me to do, I heard God gently say this:
“Don’t be afraid in not knowing. Start with the books you brought. Start with scripture; the catechism. TRUST. Things will slowly unravel. Don’t preoccupy yourself with other people’s spiritual journeys, I’m using them for something else. This is YOUR journey. I’m using you in your own special way. Be yourself. Give your best. Explore what interests you, and learn that. The faith, after all, is a rich, lush forrest of knowledge. No one can learn everything in a lifetime. But they can certainly master something. That is all there is to it. This way, you add your own dimension as a witness to the gospels- you become a unique example of the faith- not by trying to be someone else, but by being YOURSELF. Don’t worry my child. Learn from others. Don’t strive to BE others. I always see you, I know your heart. As long as you remain faithful to me and you, then you bear witness to my good news and WILL make disciples of nations even if you don’t see it. Even if you don’t know it. You will. Believe me.”
Of course I teared up and started to sniffle on the bus – I always do when I hear God; I tried to mask it, but I think I failed because the old, Japanese women in front of me started staring. Embarrassed, I contained myself rather quickly. The inner me suddenly grinned. Strange creature, they must have thought.
2. My first day of teaching by myself went relatively well. One of the girls in my class started crying and I couldn’t figure out why. It startled me at first, but I remembered what my friend and experienced teacher told me – do NOT take it personally – so I was able to quickly shrug off my insecurity; after, I simply tried my best to console her while maintaining the learning atmosphere of the class. The other classes were mostly well-behaved, and the kids were so receptive and eager to learn. A girl named Yukari, who receives private lessons, learned that I enjoy snowboarding; thus, she invited me to go snowboarding with her and her friends up north. I almost forgot it snowed in Japan since Okayama has been mostly sunny with a little rain here and there, but she said there are excellent slopes where she snowboards. “Perhaps in the near future,” I replied, but I must admit that her invitation felt…good. I also got more acquainted with the Japanese teacher at today’s school. She is very friendly and told me about her extensive travels. We connected on our mutual passion for travel. She told me that if I ever wanted to visit Malaysia, she could set me up with people to stay with and show me around. She’s an avid visitor of this country and proclaims its beauty and my need to see it. I was very touched by her invitation and kindness, and became excited about this possibility. She also suggested she show me around her hometown – Kurashiki in the Okayama prefecture – one day soon as she loves to drive. Humbled, I said that I would love that.
3. All my public transit went smoothly today, despite the potential hiccups I encountered. When I finished teaching and arrived at the train station around 10pm, I decided to take a taxi for the first time. Initially I was just going to walk home – a 35-minute-long trek – since I feared getting scolded or rejected, but then I thought, how would I know if I didn’t try? So I did and it was fine.
In conclusion, I felt victorious today. I know, small things, but they really were personally big. Today, I asked this a million times to the kids “How are you.” Most of them said “happy” because they either spoke the truth or it was all they knew how to say; so, I couldn’t help but ask myself: “Monica, how are you?” to which I responded, “happy.” I was pleased to know that that was the truth.