I want to talk to you a bit more about myself and how I came to Japan.
When I first came to Japan, I didn’t expect to end up where I am now. Actually I had only planned to come for 6 months, become fluent in Japanese and then leave to go back to my own country. Either that or fall in love with some Japanese dude, get married and have lots of half Japanese babies. Actually none of these idealistic notions ever happened.
I didn’t become fluent in Japanese in 6 months, I didn’t get married and I didn’t leave the country either.
Instead, the best thing happened. I fell in love with Japan. I ended up staying here for a lot longer than 6 months and finally after going around and around in circles looking for direction in life, I found myself at Jesus LIfehouse Osaka. This was where I rededicated my life to Jesus, this was where I could really steam on ahead in life.
But let’s go back a few steps.
Thing’s haven’t always been so hunky dory!
I grew up in a Christian home, I accepted Jesus love for me in to my life when I was 13 and I really wanted to live for him, but by the time I reached 18, parties, boys and the list of 1001 things I hadn’t done in my life arrived at my door… Suddenly I wasn’t so sure if following Jesus was the way forward in life for me.
So I took a gamble, I decided a different route, the ‘Laura route’. I went down my own road, all by myself and it often ended up in a lot of trouble…
I was suddenly compelled to rebel. The foundation I had in Christianity wasn’t based on God, it was based on my families’ moral values and beliefs and it was against them, that I suddenly found the need to fight back.
I found myself breaking away from Christianity easily, and crashing into a
whirl wind romance with life, everyday leading to some new exciting venture and every morning to a hangover from hell, topped with a plague of guilt that I wasn’t following my dreams and I wasn’t living up to the person I imagined I would be. In fact I wasn’t living for anything, but myself.
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, but more than that, I didn’t think I needed HIm in my life. There wasn’t any ROOM for God in my life anymore. What could God give me that I couldn’t get myself? I had been introduced to alcohol and freedom, I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was allowed to lose control and was encouraged to do so, my friends acknowledge that this ‘Party Laura’ was so much fun. The more they acknowledged it, the more I wanted to live up to the gregarious name I had set up for myself. I totally forgot about God. I had totally left him behind.
Actually I was just running away. Running away from life.
But no matter how far you run, how fast you are running,
or even what running shoes you’re wearing, you can’t run away from life.
Although I hadn’t quite come to terms with it, I knew this so I decided I needed a change, a big change in life – I was looking for something more, so I decided to run even further away from everything – to
When I arrived here I had every intention of making something of my life, leaving behind my selfish ways and taking up a challenge that would give me a new direction.
But when I stepped off that plane
wooaaaa…….. It was like someone had pressed the pause button on my “Journey to ‘life'” I was stuck in commercial mode. A crazy, constantly moving, commercial.
Life in Japan didn’t stop. There were lights and food and customs I was totally unused to. Karaoke, Izakaya’s, boy’s – people just wanted to talk to me all the time, I was the interesting white Gaijin, I loved it.
For the first 6 months I lived it up, it was all a novelty, I got lost in the commercial island that Japan had marked in my life. Gismo’s galore. It was great, it was fun, it was everything I wanted Japan to be.
But after a while things started to take a negative turn. The small things about Japan started to irritate me, I became down about living here, but it wasn’t just about Japan – I was down with life.
I had no purpose, no goals, I had a deep longing to be something more, to live more than just me, but all I was left with was a deep un-satisfaction with what I had.
I didn’t know where to turn, or what to about it, so I just carried on how I was living – in a mess. I gave up in away.
At this point in my life it reminds me a lot of a story in the bible that Jesus told, about a son who decided to leave home with his father’s money and go off and find his own life. He lived it up, he had a blast, until his money ran out and he found himself feeding pigs. He realised even his father’s servants were living a lot better off than he was. He couldn’t do it by himself.
Luke 15 v 11-19
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
-Luke 15:11-19 (NLT)
Granted, I wasn’t exactly feeding pigs, but I was totally lost in life, I thought I could do it all by myself, but I couldn’t even take care of how I was feeling inside. I was a long way from home and alone.
At first, I had blamed Japan for how I felt. But it wasn’t Japan’s fault I felt this way, it wasn’t Japan’s fault that I couldn’t get more from life, it wasn’t Japan that was making me empty inside.
And although I didn’t realise it at the time, my frustration wasn’t at Japan it was at myself. I thought I needed to leave the country and explore somewhere new to find the answer. But running away is never the answer. I had runaway to Japan I couldn’t run away from it.
I had to sort me out here.
So I did. Even at this low point in my life, I knew what was missing, I knew what my heart was longing for….