Why Traveling Across the World Expands Our View of God’s Character

Photo by Nicole Harrington on Unsplash

I pinch myself as I feel my feet on the new terrain. The reality of literally walking on the ground of a land across the globe feels surreal. Though I will live in Sweden as an exchange student in college lasted for only three months, the experience will transform me for a lifetime.

Thirty-two years later, I find myself repeatedly connecting to the culture that became my brief home. It shapes my politics, my worldviews, my lifestyle, and my theology. But it wasn’t comfortable at first. Oh, the anticipation of adventure, a first plane ride (nineteen hours!), the quest for independence as a young adult and the wonder of landing in new soil fueled a racing rhythm in my heart. But, truthfully, those elements became a backdrop for the most profound changes that took place.

I was no longer in a comfortable place. It wasn’t familiar. I didn’t know my place in the social/political scene. How was I viewed as an American? Living in community with others who do not share any part of your country’s influential narrative, puts you in a vulnerable place.

But it’s a good place. A humbling place. I am dependent on someone else to show me the ropes. For everything. How do I find transportation? What if I can’t speak the language right (which happened and if the people that I addressed were laughing inside, they didn’t show it), We’re eating WHAT for breakfast? What’s the expected routine? In the midst of that rhythm of exchange between learner and teacher, a connection takes place. One that puts a face to the “them” who are not American. I recognize my only identity is as another human created in God’s image. Nothing else.

It is a blessing to share life, if even briefly, with those who live a world away. Yes, there are differences. But we need to be exposed to them. We need to hear diverse voices speaking into our lives. Because God created a vast world and a mosaic of people reflecting the Imago Dei. And one small perspective of our world does not give us a glimpse of the expansive character of God.

Where have you traveled that changed your life?

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2 thoughts on “Why Traveling Across the World Expands Our View of God’s Character

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Last night we spoke of whipped cream,
    my dear, sweet wife and I;
    And I mentioned how it tastes a dream
    when added to squirrel pie.
    “I wasn’t actually squirrel,” I said,
    though I might not have mentioned that.
    “The contents were of course quite dead,
    and consisted of fried rat.”
    To not offend the indigenous
    you have to sample their cuisine,
    though I didn’t anticipate the mess,
    and Barb’s lovely shade of green.
    If you’re a spouse, and you’re caring,
    perhaps there’s things not for sharing.

  2. Gayl

    I have not traveled outside the USA, but we have had exchange students in our home from several different countries. It was such a blessing to get to know them and to learn about other cultures. Yes, we are all human beings created in the image of God, and all beautiful. Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #FiveMinuteFriday.


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