These days I often find myself stuck in the middle. In between two extremes, not wanting either to pull me completely to their side. Because if they did, I'd feel like I was betraying a part of myself. I don't want to be defined by someone's made-up labels telling me what I should believe. I feel like the man in this comic, "sitting on the fence."
I am stuck between Ecuadorian and American traditions and lifestyles.
I am stuck between liberal and conservative beliefs about how our government should contribute to social and economic issues.
I am stuck between experiencing God through contemporary versus traditional worship services.
I am stuck between an intentionally simplistic lifestyle and an inherited middle-class wealth.
I am stuck between wanting to help people, and wanting to empower them to help themselves.
I am stuck between two worlds, left wondering how I can live honoring both cultures, being true to my beliefs and values, while also respecting people who believe the opposite from me. How do I get the "best of both worlds" and at the same time not leave myself isolated from the culture I'm living in? The truth is, not matter where I am geographically now, I will never truly fit into one culture the same way I did before.
Being in Ecuador changed me. The Becky who left the United States in 2012 is not the same Becky who returned in 2014. I am realizing this more and more as I begin living in my own culture after so long away from it. No matter how much I may wish to go back to the person I used to be, I will never achieve it. And ultimately, I don't want that. I don't want the naivety, the sheltered contentment that I had as the young, college-aged version of me. What I want is to use what I have learned through my experiences, both abroad and at home. To be able to act on the convictions I developed, to interact with my community and surroundings differently because of the way I see the world.
At this point in my life, so many experiences have shaped me. I have been in groups of people where I am the most extreme (on both ends). I lived in Costa Rica with a group of passionate evangelical Christians who were trying their best to spread God's word and love to the world. I am now a part of a group of on-fire young adults focused on social justice issues and how to bring God's kingdom to earth through holistic ministry. Both of these communities brought me life and challenged me in different ways. I also have struggled with identifying with some individuals in all of the places I have lived (Indiana, Michigan, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and now Alabama).
So I guess the answer to my question is this: it's okay to not choose sides. I don't have to put myself in a box to fit the expectations of society, government, or modern culture. I am who I am, and God created me that way. I am a unique person, and although I may be "stuck in the middle", that's an okay place to be when I know where I stand.