Jerky from Wray & Gwen: always a welcome package to find on our doorstep.

Michael and I spent the week before last in Houston with my family. As expected, it was a bittersweet time for me. You can never spend enough time with those you love before you say goodbye.

A month from tomorrow we will be moving to India. I have to stop when I say that because it’s still so incredible to me. When I look back on my life I don’t believe I ever once entertained the idea of living in another country — let alone India.

Backpacking through Europe? You bet. Moving to India for a year or more? Not even on the radar.

But Westerners have always been drawn to the East. We have these caricatures of entire societies made up of belly dancing girls, snake charmers, elephant-riding sultans, endless varieties of exotic spices, and all other lures of the orient.

And I guess those ideas aren’t created in a vacuum. But popping in and out of a culture for a few experiential trinkets is a lot different that setting your down roots in one.

I think there is a lot of room for romanticizing and setting up false expectations (it is India we’re talking about after all). When you watch shows like “House Hunter’s International” you get excited for these couples moving to Bulgaria, Rome, South Africa, or wherever. But you never get to see if ten years down the road their investment paid off. You only get to see their initial experiences.

The difference in moving to another culture for an experience verses going to make an investment simply boils down to the difference between a contractual mindset verses a covenantal mindset. Or to put it not-so-nicely: Moving for selfish reasons verses moving for selfless reasons.

Really, if you think about it, whether it’s a new box of markers or a new romance, anything new is exciting to us. But ‘new’ inevitable becomes ‘old’ and it’s at that point the immature and superficial leave. The mature and steady will push through and remain.

A contractual mindset thinks in terms of conditions and (usually) personal conveniences:

  • “If he cheats on me, I’ll divorce him.” 
  • “If I have to write a twenty-five page paper for this class, I’ll drop it.”
  • “If I don’t get that raise, I’m quitting.”
  • “If I get tired of India, I’ll just move back home.”

But a covenant mindset has no terms or limitations; it completely negates the “if” in the equation:

  • “No matter if cheats me, I’ll get help, but I will stand by his side until the end.”
  • “No matter if I have to write a twenty-five page paper for this class, I will give it my best and complete the task.” 
  • “No matter if I don’t get that raise, I will continue to perform my responsibilities as well as, if not better, than before.”
  • “No matter if I get tired of India, I will remember I’m not here for me, I’m here for a purpose that is yet to be accomplished.”

My own “work and creativity zone”.

In short, a contractual mindset doesn’t have to cost you anything. But a a covenant mindset will always cost you something, if not eventually everything.

There is a lot of novelty to India…. but there’s a lot to be frustrated by also. If we want to endure things for the long haul, we have to look at India as an investment. Just like in financial markets, there will be losses in our emotional, spiritual and physical “markets”, but the long-term yields eternal dividends.
It’s exciting to think about finding a flat in Delhi and romanticize the expatriate life. But what will we do six months into it when the routine sets in? What happens when we wake up homesick and realize things break, the food tastes bad, and the traffic sucks?
We’ll remember that India is more than just a temporal experience. India is an eternal investment.

India is God’s investment, and God’s credit is good. God is so sure this investment will pay off that he’s given us his Son’s inheritance in advance. What a rich and generous a Father we have!

Do you catch yourself jumping from one “high” to the next? Which mindset (contractual or covenantal) do you think is the most prevalent here in America?

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