Not Lot’s Wife

Gate near Yanlord Town Apartments. Pudong, Shanghai.

Every day I stare into the horizon and battle the yearning to go back. But I am not Lot’s wife.

When we first moved to Shanghai, my sister emailed me this talk about Lot’s wife. At the time, I was bombarded, constantly, with waves of homesickness, for people, places, conveniences, culture. Being treated as a second-class citizen did not endear China to me. (Neither did the public nose picking or loogie hawking.) Six weeks spent in the U.S. was a soul-reviving refuge and I didn’t want to get on that plane. But I returned, bound by the commitment to my husband and for the love of my children. Temptation beckoned me and The Circus to stay behind. And it would have been so easy…

Life here is different and difficult. It’s hard to get around. People are rude, unless your skin is white. It’s crowded and often times smelly and filthy. (Much worse than the urine/Orange Glo smells of L.A. parking lot stairwells.) I miss the conveniences and luxuries of the United States. I miss the friendliness. And the cleanliness. I fight natural feelings of depression, bitterness and resentment. Especially when The Hubs travels, which is frequent, and which he rather enjoys. Despite all of this, I feel gratitude for my blessings and try to count them each day. I have a home, I have my children who can attend an amazing school and a hard working husband who has employment and provides for us; I have food on my table, and clothes on my back, I have health and happiness. And I have Skype.

Back to Lot’s wife. Her sin lay not merely in the act of looking back, but in her heart’s yearning to go back. As Jeffrey Holland clarifies, “So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently, she thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as what she was leaving behind.” Hmmmm…

So I strive to have courage and face my trials with dignity and grace, as I diligently press on, one foot in front of the other, sidestepping the loogies and progressing forward with faith that God has a purpose for me here in China.

Because, I am not Lot’s wife.

{Here’s to the new adventures headed our way. Although, I am mourning Target all over again. What can I say. Sometimes, I am still a pillar of salt.}

7 thoughts on “Not Lot’s Wife

  1. CM,
    Glad to see that you are back “Bloging”! One might say, “How are you gonna get them to Shanghai once they been to Orem”. Hang in there CM, we are the house of McLellan are pulling for ya!

  2. You can do hard things, Karen! That is often my mantra as I do something new, challenging, or scary. How about weekend in Hong Kong? We don’t have target, but we do have a temple and lots of friendly western people :) We are all proud of you and impressed that you have handled this change so well!

    • Thanks, Betsey. I swear, I would’ve turned into salt a thousand times over, by now! :) HK sounds great. We will definitely take a trip out to see you guys. (So glad you are acclimating well, too!)

  3. Karen, I love this. I sat in my Asian Humanities class today and thought of you–and thought of how I will handle all of these things if we move too. My teacher said we need to all be ethnologists. She said to become an ethnologist you have to be able to step back and dispell judgment–and in doing so–we can see more clearly their perspective. I love this concept. The teacher said this skill will make you a better wife, and mother, and human being.

    As she was speaking, I thought of you and how hard it must really be to try to do when you are trying to be a mom and wife at the same time.

    I wish you were here. Jeremy turns eighteen tomorrow–and he FINISHED HIS EAGLE PROJECT! We will be celebrating.

    • Amy,
      I miss you more than words can describe. Even as I type, I hear your laughter mingled with mine over the incidents and experiences flowing forth, from my mind to my finger tips. Congratulations and Happy Birthday to Jeremy. Wish I could be there to make some Chinese food for your family and celebrate.

  4. “Despite all of this, I feel gratitude for my blessings and try to count them each day. I have a home, I have my children who can attend an amazing school and a hard working husband who has employment and provides for us; I have food on my table, and clothes on my back, I have health and happiness.”

    You said it. Always count your blessings. The fact that your husband has a job in this lousy economy is a big deal. I know too many people struggling to find work. One of my former bosses from the past – a brilliant man with an incredible resume, work ethic, and personality – took 6 months to find a new job.

    And your kids are getting a great education: both within those school walls and without. They are getting a world-exposure experience that you could never pay for.

    Our family (except my Dad, who loved being stationed back in Germany) felt EXACTLY the way you do when we had to move to Germany. My mom had the hardest time and we would sometimes catch her holding back tears or crying sometimes. And we kids whined and complained constantly about things that I now realize were just silly. But after a good year plus, after gaining some new friends, getting used to the cultural and language differences, going through the seasons, etc. I guess we just got used to it. Or we simply understood the cultural variances better. Regardless of why, the important thing is we started to LIKE being there.

    I was just talking to my colleague over lunch today about Europe, traveling, etc. and I was talking about Rome, Paris, Florence, Bern, etc. He stopped me and asked “do you realize how incredibly fortunate you are to have had that experience at a young age”.

    Yes, I replied. I do.

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