Living in Japan has changed many things about me.
I eat different food. (Who would have ever thought I’d eat tangerines and mushrooms on a daily basis and deliberately have black tea…)
Onsens are a regular part of my life. (Like, being naked with that many other people totally doesn’t phase me anymore…)
Things that I used to find quirky (paying health insurance, the amount of 7-11s, having a vending machine on every street, electronically-advanced-toilet-seats, supermarkets not opening until 10am…) are now normal to me.
Living in Japan has also strengthened parts of my personality that were already there.
I still write songs and paint pictures and love worship and prayer. If anything, I do more of that here.
I still drink about 8 cups of earl grey a day. In fact, once autumn set in, I drank more…
I still wear colourful clothes.
Now, if you’ve met me… Or in fact, forget the meeting… If you’ve seen me… You will have realised that I really like colour. And pattern. And the reality of wearing as many combinations of said colours and patterns at one time as if often feasibly possible.
When I’m in the UK, it gets a few comments.
I get asked a lot if I’m a vegetarian (For the record, I’m not… I mean, when I was about 8 years old I think I tried that for about a year until I missed steak pie too much), and when I inquire as to why people would automatically presume I am a vegetarian, I get the answer of… ‘Well, you dress kind of wacky/quirky/colourful.. And the two normally go together’.
In Japan, it also gets a few comments.
People are a little more complimentary. Actually, in the UK people used to break a smile, but here random people actually come and engage in clothing/jewellery related conversation. I don’t know if it’s just an English word that Sapporo people seem to like and know, but the word bohemian gets thrown around a lot. (I kinda prefer ‘bohemian’ to ‘wacky’!)
I also still get asked if I’m a vegetarian…
Anyway, yesterday I wore I pretty spectacular (if I do say so myself) combination.
A friend once told me he thought I was wearing ALL of the patterns in the world in one go… Yesterday I considered that I had potentially fulfilled this claim.
So, there are things Japan has changed about me and there are things it has affirmed about me.
But as I was reflecting on this, it led me to think about the things that Holy Spirit is continually changing in me.
In this best-possible-ever-process of change.
I was reflecting on the love of God. On the overflowing, deep, ocean-like, love of God. And the way in which it changes us. And the way in which we can’t keep it inside. Because it’s just so boundless. His love changes everything. And we are never the same.
We wear it about us and in us and on us and it shines and radiates in all the brightness and vibrancy of Holy Spirit. It changes us, but it was never meant to stop there, this love of God. Because He brings resurrection to so much more.
He colours us in ways that are unconventional to this world.
You know, because I keep getting calling ‘bohemian’ so much, I thought I’d actually look up the meaning.
I love this.
I love it so much.
a socially unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts.
You know, I think Holy Spirit makes us bohemian.
He transforms us into those who of socially unconventional in the eyes of the world.
He changes us to affirm and call out the good, and prune away the bad.
And with that… I was reading Romans this morning, and Paul’s reflections in chapter 7 are my closing thought. Praise Jesus that He is the One who rescues us and changes us and makes us colourful from the inside out. He colours us holy. He colours us love. He colours us beautiful.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.