I was walking around the market in Segovia on Thursday when I met a local named Felipe. He noticed that I didn’t seem like I was from around here, so he asked me where I was from.
I gave him the typical spiel about studying Spanish and being from the land of Colonel Sanders. And then he told me that he’s studying English! So of course we started trying to speak the language of the other. And honestly, he wasn’t half bad.
But what surprised me even more than his English skills was how familiar this guy seemed to me. He started talking about American pop culture and asked how the party scene was in America.
We chatted some more and religion eventually came up. He told me that Christianity was a list of rules of do’s and don’ts and that his parents were too strict and he wanted to be able to have sex when he wanted and drink however much he wished.
At first, I wrote him off as just another one of the countless youth in Europe that have basically lost all faith. The longer I stay here, the more isolated I feel by that fact.
But then I realized something.
I never had to travel overseas to meet this guy. I suddenly knew why he was so familiar.
I was him, just a few years ago. He is the same guy I can still meet at a typical frat party on a Thursday night. He is your study buddy in History class. Or he’s the captain of the football team. He might even be the girl who is the leader of your workplace’s volunteer week, who pours herself into helping others because that where she feels most alive and most useful.
No hope. No direction. No cause. Even in the best covers (like volunteering at homeless shelters), we are often times just trying to do life the best way we can and soak up as much happiness as we can attain for ourselves.
That’s not a Felipe thing. That’s not even a Spain thing. That’s a heart thing. And if we’re all honest, we’ve been there.
C.S. Lewis puts it like this:
“If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the only thing that satisfies.
Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?”
As I reflect, I feel just as isolated in the states as I do here. Most people just always seem different than me. And though I’m tempted to pin that on Spanish culture or mainstream American culture or whatever label is in fashion, it’s really so much more than that.
It’s because I was never meant to be part of this world. And you weren’t either. Jesus died so that we don’t have to make up for our sins or soak up every moment of happiness we can. We already have eternal joy in knowing that our God loves us unfailingly, unswervingly, and unceasingly.
It is totally undeserved, despite our best efforts and our poorest attempts.
Let’s hear what Paul has to say on this subject in Philippians 3:18-21:
18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you don’t feel like you belong where you are sometimes, you must belong somewhere else…